If you’re breastfeeding and headed back to work- then you probably have pumping on the brain! What policies here in the U.S. help protect moms who need to schedule pumping breaks throughout the day? And what happens if you have a job where you can’t take standard pumping breaks? What are your options? We have some amazing mamas on this episode to give you some insight on what worked for them!
The Boob Group
Back To Work: Break Times for Nursing Moms
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PRIYA NEMBHARD: When we think about nursing moms going back to work, the first image that comes to mind is office setting and women in business suits. You never hear of moms in positions where break times to breast-pump or nurse, if you are lucky, can be a challenge. Today we are discussing break times for nursing moms in our Back To Work series with extra-ordinary jobs. We are The Boob Group!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Welcome to The Boob Group! We're here to support all moms wanting to provide breast milk to their babies. I am your host – Priya Nembhard. I am also the founder of the “Moms Pump Here” nursing locator app which helps moms all over the world to find great places to pump and breastfeed their babies. If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to download the New Mommy Media Network app which gives you easy access to all our episodes. You can also subscribe to our podcast through iTunes so our latest episodes download directly to your mobile device automatically. And if you are on iTunes, please leave us a review, so other moms can learn about us. Let’s meet the mamas joining our conversation today! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family!
MARSHA: Hi, everybody, my name is Marsha, and I am a mom for the second time around after a twenty and a half year break, so it is a very large gap. What I knew this time around after, you know, being a mom for the second time, was that I definitely wanted to breastfeed. And do whatever it takes to provide that, you know, nutrition, for my son Major. So that’s what I’ve been doing.
LORI GERMAN: Hi, my name is Lori German and I am a mom of two daughters, twelve and fourteen. I am also a firefighter and I’ve been a firefighter for twenty years, and I was the first firefighter in our department to actually give a birth to a baby while they were on the line. So, both of my daughters have a very special place in their hearts and we had to deal with some pretty special challenges when it came to a nursing mom in a fire station.
SUNNY GAULT: Hi, everyone! I am Sunny. I am producing today’s show. And I have four kids. But as far as jobs are concerned and breastfeeding my kids, because I breastfed all of them, and I pumped, and I supplemented, all that good stuff, and I don’t think podcast and producer is that extra-ordinary.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: It is-you are not in an office.
SUNNY GAULT: I am not in an office. And actually I was able to…in a lot of our episodes, my babies were actually nursing, because that’s life, and that’s what I needed to do. But as far as being a big challenge, I haven’t had to deal with that. Real excited though to hear everyone’s stories, because I know a lot of moms going back to work are struggling with this.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: And I am your host, Priya. So, I have three kids. My oldest if fourteen, my middle is twelve and my youngest son, William, is eight. I breastfed, and breast-pumped, and supplemented for all three of them, Liam, I breastfed him for three years. And I guess, you could say I didn’t have extra-ordinary jobs either. I’ve had tons of nine to five and I am also an entrepreneur, so it’s been a little bit of both. I’ve been both on my own flexible schedule, and having to add here to, you know, my supervisor, or whatever my supervisor wanted. I am so looking forward to this conversation. I think it is going to be a wonderful discussion. Especially since we have two moms on here that have extra-ordinary jobs.
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SUNNY GAULT: Alright, so before we dive into our episode today and talk about these jobs, and how moms are going back to work, I have a segment that is actually is very much work related. So we have a segment called Mama Hacks, and it is where you, our listeners, submit whether it is breastfeeding or pumping, your favourite hacks that help you accomplish it, and do it easier, right, and more efficiently. And so, I am actually going to read two today. Usually I just do one. But one was kind of short, so, I am combining them. So, this first hack comes from one of our listeners, Danny, and she makes a really good point about pumps and the type of pumps to use. So, she says:
A low quality pump can make your supply go down. If you are going to use it every day, invest in a hospital rental, or a really good brand or model.
I started with a cheap pump and it took me a really long time to get my supply back up.
So, I have experienced this a little bit, you know. Actually it wasn’t even a cheap pump. It just…the suction really wasn’t working for me. And I had to dip in supplies as well. So, yeah, pumps are really important. You need to feel comfortable with them and you know, you got to have a good suction and stuff. Anyone else experienced anything like that?
LORI GERMAN: My first daughter has a down Syndrome and she also had a heart defect when she was born, which made nursing a challenge. And I actually, when she was less than six weeks old, I was told that I was going to have to supplement her nursing because she wasn’t thriving. So, I actually was pumping and was having to supplement that with formula as well in order to get a huge calorie dose for her. She would nurse probably as half as much as a typical kid. So, it was a pretty big struggle for me. In addition, I had to go back to work in twelve weeks. As I had mentioned before that I was the first female that actually had a baby, so they expected me to be back in twelve weeks, post c-section, still breastfeeding. So, I actually had to invest in a rental pump as well, because the small, battery operated models just didn’t work.
SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, I had a lot of frustration with that too. But let’s move on to the second one. I want to get Julie in here. Julie emailed us as well with a Mama Hack. And I thought that was a good one related to work as well. She says:
Set up a pumping space when you get to work, so you don’t have to set it all up when it is time to pump.
And first when she wrote this, I was thinking does that mean like a designated area, like… This is obviously for people who have more like a desk job type of thing. I think of it like a little pumping area that’s like always set up for that. But I think she means when you first get to work, set it up, you know what I mean? And then just like let it be until you need it, as opposed to getting it all out. I think you can only do this if you have like a designated office and area for this, right?
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So, that sounds like a smart tip, but it is not…It was never my first thought when I had an office and I had to pump, way back when. It was never my thought oh, when I get here, I have to make sure I set it up. It was just like it is in my bag, I pull it out when I need it.
SUNNY GAULT: I’ll get to it when I get to it!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Exactly!
SUNNY GAULT: Right! Maybe she was thinking about the time that it would take, but I guess you are spending the time regardless.
MARSHA: I definitely like the whole set up idea! I pump on my way to work and then…I have an hour drive to work. So, I usually, you know, I do at least one boob on route to work and then once I get there, I’ll do the other one. I have like a little fridge, I have extra spare parts in my classroom, and my principal is just really great about allowing me to have that space. All I have to do is lock my door and cover like the little piece of glass with a piece of chart paper, and I am pumping away pretty much naked in my classroom. From the waist up, of course! And that’s how I get it done. But I find…because it is a forty minute period, when I am usually off, and in that forty minutes I don’t want to waste any time, so I have everything just set up and ready to go.
SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, that’s right! I think that’s what Julie was referring to. It is like get it set up at the beginning and then, you know, you can be in and out kind of thing, you know, when you take your breaks, so… Well, hopefully those tips were helpful for you guys! If you have a Mama Hack and you want to share it with us, again, it doesn’t have to be pumping related, it can be related to breastfeeding as well, but it goes along really well with our Back To Work series that we are doing right now. So, if you have any of those tips, you can email us, or you can post something on our Facebook page and we can grab it from there.
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PRIYA NEMBHARD: Today we are continuing our series Back To Work by talking about break times for nursing moms. Many of the moms who are listening to The Boob Group are nursing moms who have to go back to work or are working out of their home and have to manoeuvre break times to express milk with their employer. So, both of you have unique situations. And I, you know, I can’t imagine how you manoeuvre work in your professions. But first, let’s talk about what you guys do. Lori, you are firefighter and Marsha, you are a teacher, tell us more about your professions.
LORI GERMAN: Well, I am a firefighter. I’ve been with the fire department for twenty years and actually I was just promoted at the beginning of the year battalion chief. And so, I’ve created a lot of firsts in our department. I was the first female firefighter that ever had a baby and I was the actual individual that created the light-duty policy for firefighters and the maternity leave policy for firefighters.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Оh! I didn’t know that!
LORI GERMAN: Yeah!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: How cool is that!
LORI GERMAN: Yeah, when I started we didn’t really have any kind of anything in place. There were only two females, me being one of them that was working for the department when I got hired. And so, when I decided that I wanted to have babies, I went to them and they kind of looked at me like, you know, I had ten heads. And they didn’t really know how to handle it and they kind of, you know, guys being guys, said some pretty silly things. So, I took it upon myself. I created the policy, I created a light-duty policy. I created a family medically policy for maternity leave for the female firefighters. And then within a couple of years I actually put it to the test. And it was definitely a very interesting ride being around all those guys and being pregnant.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: I can imagine! And what about you, Marsha?
MARSHA: Well, with me at work, I can honestly say I have a good situation because the fact that my principal was also a nursing mom. And she is all about liquid gold, liquid golds. And in my school there are not too many classrooms that aren’t occupied when teachers are off. I guess I should explain how it works. There are 40 periods in a teaching week. It is eight periods a day, times the five days. But we only teach for twenty-five of them and then five of them are our lunch period bringing us to thirty. And then there’s another ten periods where we are like prepping, and grading papers, and in meeting, and stuff like that. So, on the periods when most teachers are off, their rooms are occupied by other teachers. She set it up so that my room was available when I am off. So, all I have to do was lock my door and cover the little glass partition, and then boobs come out. So, pretty much I pump at work three-four times a day, sitting right at my desk. If only the kids knew what was going on in there. Yeah, that’s it! So, that’s I’m able to do that. It is not easy, definitely not easy, but I get it done, you know, that’s how he eats, so…
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So, Lori, I can’t imagine… You can’t just wipe out your boobs like Marsha at your desk and pump! What is the culture like in your work place when it comes to nursing moms? You talked about creating the new policies, but what was it like when you had your first child?
LORI GERMAN: Well, when I came back to work, like I said, Emily was only twelve weeks old and she was four weeks post open-heart surgery also. And the other challenge is that I work a typical twenty-four hour shift. So, I start at 7:30 in the morning and I leave the next morning at 7:30.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Well, you haven’t even gone to sleep yet! So, Lori just finished her shift this morning before the podcast.
LORI GERMAN: Yeah! So, but yeah, there was definitely a lot of challenges. You know, I came back to work with a brand new baby that was having issues nursing, she’s had surgery, and I come back to a very physical… Oh, and I also had a Caesarian section too. So, I had to work really hard to get back into shape so that I can come back to work and be able to lift patience and carry my gear. And so, coming back to work was definitely a struggle. So, when it came time for pumping, I was lucky, because actually I have a bedroom there, at work, and it is a little bed with… But it’s only separated by a curtain. And so, I would go in there several times a day and I would sit on my bed and I would pump. And it was… None of the guys minded it, but you know, they could come back there and they could actually hear the pump running. And they would, you know, you could hear them, they would come in and they are all making noise and laughing, and coming in and then they stop and go wait…oh, God, she’s pumping, let’s get out! And they would… Yeah, they would leave like, you know, like they were really creeped out, you know, and stuff. And then I would come out and I’d have my little bottle, and I would put the lid on, and I would walk over to the fridge, and I would put in the fridge, and I would look at them and they were all just… I would smile at them and walk out of there, and they would really kind of look at me like oh, God, she just put breastmilk in the refrigerator!
SUNNY GAULT:Oh, my Gosh!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So, the privacy that you had, did all of the firefighters have that same privacy, or was it just you?
LORI GERMAN: Oh, no! All the firefighters were afforded that same privacy as well. So, that really wasn’t an issue with them trying to make a special place for me. In addition, the station that I was at, was also part of the administration office and they had absolutely no problem forfeiting an office for, you know, the ten/fifteen/twenty minutes that took. I expressed milk in the conference room, I expressed milk in the fire room, in the fire chief’s office. So, you know, if there was…if you ended up in a pinch where you couldn’t actually go back there and do it back there, then I would just really kind of commandeer any place that I could, other than the bathroom.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: And what about you, Marsha? What was the culture like?
MARSHA: When I first got back to work, I came back to work this year, my immediate supervisor in a man, and I said to him…because I didn’t know where my classroom was going to be at that point. And I said to him, you know, so, where am I going to pump? He was like is the bathroom okay? And I was No! It is not okay! I said would you eat in the bathroom? Or cook in the bathroom? So, I was like absolutely not! He was like: okay, okay, okay, I don’t know, I was just asking. So, yeah, I had told him that wasn’t an option. You know, he said he didn’t know, it is fine. And then from there, he came to me later on that same day and was like, you know, we’ve made arrangements for you to be able to do it in your room. And I am able to have like a mini little fridge in there, so I can… I store like the pump parts in there between sessions since I don’t have an access to sink right then, so I’ll just wipe them and store them in the fridge, and then I am able to just, you know, get my little twenty/thirty minutes sessions at least four times a day at work. Just really quick between classes.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So, how was the perception of moms in your industry affected you? So, I know for teachers it might be a little different, because it is mostly women who are teachers, right? So, how was the perception of moms affected you within your school, in your industry?
MARSHA: Well, I know a lot other teachers are like wow, I can’t believe, you know, you are always pumping or still pumping, because couple of us went out towards the end of the school year and they said they stopped when they came back. And you know, I just explain this as something I did’t get the chance to do with my first son, because I was so young, and just not informed about all the benefits and everything, I just… It was something I really value and just the way I am with everything that goes in my mouth. So, it is really hard and… But I have a lot of support, I must say, at work. Same deal, because when the custodians come around to clean and then they hear the sound of the pump, they are like okay, we’ll come back. So, it is kind of like that, you know, everyone kind of works with me.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Lori, you too, so, how are the perception of moms in your industry affected you?
LORI GERMAN: Ah, well, when I started… I started with the fire department in 1996 and women in the fire service were less that 1%. And there weren’t many women out there. There weren’t many moms out there. And like I said, when I started, the perception was that, you know, we were there to do the job just like one of the guys, and they expected us to be one of the guys. And when the topic of having babies and you know, God forbid, even nursing or pumping, came into play, it was met with a lot of wide eyes. It wasn’t that there was outright defiance or anybody saying that we were not going to cooperate. It just seemed like they just… like deer in the headlights. They just looked at us like, you know, like oh, no!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yeah, like: Are we really going to deal with this?
LORI GERMAN: Right! You know, it was almost like it was… I likened when I had to go on and tell my battalion chief that I was pregnant, I almost looked… It almost was like you are going in and telling him that I started my period too. He was like I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want to hear it! I am like: it’s a baby, I’m having a baby. He's like: we can’t talk about that! We are not going to talk about that right now!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: He really said that?
LORI GERMAN: Yeah!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Oh, wow!
LORI GERMAN: He’s like: I don’t want to talk about this right now! So, he left for a little bit, you know, when we went on and did our business and then it sort of sunk in, you know. You, the other thing is that, like I said, when I, you know, when I was there, there was only one other female firefighter there and she had left within a couple of years, so I was the only girl for probably better than nine years, I was the only girl. So, of course, they looked at me as if I’m their sister. So, now here I come and I am telling them I am pregnant and you know, they are like oh, boy! You know, it was sort of like telling your big brother that you are pregnant, you know.
But, you know, in terms of perception, it’s changed a lot! We have about 7% women in out department which is much higher than the nation standards. And they are all young ladies, and they are all having babies. We’ve got one that’s pregnant right now. We’ve got several that have had…that have babies that are less than a year old. And they are all nursing moms. And you know, you come into the station and you see them carrying their bags and they are carrying their little Medela bags, you know, and they go in and they put them down into their dormitory, their cubicle, you know.
As a supervisor I’ve had some of the female firefighters call me up and say… you know, they’ll call me on the phone or send me a text and say: hey, listen, we’ve been running calls all morning long, we’ve been out of the station for the last seven hours, I have to pump, you know, how can you help me with that? And so, what I’ll do is, you know, I’ll monitor the radio, monitor the calls, and I’ll give them twenty minutes to, you know, try to…you know, try to be able to make time for that. Because I know what it’s like to not pump and I know how it feels to not pump, and I know that you can…you ruin your clothes, your ruin your shirt. And you know, I can’t have my girls out there doing that.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Have you ever been in a situation where you are just…you are leaking all over the place and you are on a job? Like you are being called, there’s an emergency?
LORI GERMAN: Yes, yes! And at that point I put on my bunker coat. It will be 90degrees outside and I wear my bunker coat because the shirts that we wear are like sweatshirt grey.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: I’ve tried it on, I remember. Oh, wait, no those shirts! I’ve tried on your gear.
LORI GERMAN: Well, that’s what I put on. But, you know, our shirts are sweatshirt grey and you know, even with the nursing pads, you know, if it’s been several hours and now you are an hour late for pumping, you know those pads are not going to cover for anything. That’s, you know… You might as well not even bother. So, you know, you are there, and you know, you have to work. You look down and your shirt just look like… You know, your shirt is just soaking wet. And I would just go and put my bunker coat on, zip it up and do what I have to do. And of course, when I am done, I have to wash mu bunker coat too, because…
The other thing that we are learning now also is that our gear holds a lot of carcinogens in it because of all of the fires that we go into. And even though we are supposed to wash them after every fire, it doesn’t take out all the carcinogens. So then, once I put my coat on, I would have to go back and take a shower first to wash off all of the stuff that might have attached to me because of my gear, and then I can pump.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Oh, wow! So, you have to go the extra mile just to make sure you are doing everything safely and correctly. Okay, so, talking about breaks, I wanted to read the provisions to you that the federal government has laid out for nursing moms and then, when we come back, I want your opinion. So, okay. The president laid out provisions in the Affordable Care Act, section 4207 of the law and amends the Fair Labour Standards to require an employer to provide reasonable break-time for an employee to express breastmilk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth, each time such employee has needed to express milk. The employer is not required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time for any work time spent for that purpose. And the employer must also provide a space other than a bathroom for the employee to express their breastmilk. So, if these requirements impose undo heart-ship, an employer that employs fewer than fifty employees is not subject to these requirements and the federal requirements shall not preempt a state law that provides greater protections to employees. So, really, it just gives you a general overview.
Okay, so I want you guys to hold your thought. I now it is a mouthful. But when we come back, I want to hear about what you think about these provisions and what you recommend to other moms. We’ll be right back.
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PRIYA NEMBHARD: Welcome back! Today we’re talking break times for nursing moms. So, before our commercial break I read the provision that allows reasonable break times for nursing moms from the federal level. Let’s hear it from the moms today. So, what did you guys think of the provision when I read it?
LORI GERMAN: I actually… I think it’s a nice, I think it is a noble thing. I think that it makes it important for employers to realize that the importance of moms nursing their children needs to be accepted in the workplace. If I try to however apply that to my situation, my statement to that is: breaks? What breaks? You know, I mean… You know, I’ve been on fire scenes where we’ve been on there for four, five, six, seven hours. A couple weeks ago, I was on a propane gas leak that it started at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and it ran until 7:30 the next morning.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Oh my God! So, how do you get a break like that?
LORI GERMAN: I didn’t. I left for thirty minutes to go to the bathroom. They actually had to bring food out to the scene for us to eat, and I basically was, you know, I was awake for…I was awake for like 27 or 29hours straight. So, in a situation like that, there would be no time to express, you know. Being a female, and being a female supervisor, I am able to make accommodations for those that I know that are nursing or pumping. I can tell somebody hey, listen, go to the station, or come here, relieve this person so she could go back to the station and do what she needs to do and then come back, you know, and do just a person-to-a-person exchange. But otherwise, I say, you know, in most normal situations, I say that’s great. But in our situation I don’t know how they would be able to afford us break time.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Wow! What about you, Marsha?
MARSHA: I was just thinking when Lori was talking about going all those hours without pumping…I can’t even imagine only because of the pain you actually feel when you are engorged and the difficulties that that can lead to with clocked dugs and mastitis. It can get pretty crazy if you are not able to at least, you know, hand express really quick, or something, just to relieve some of the pressure on the milk ducks.
LORI GERMAN: Yeah, I was luck, I never had that problem, but yeah, I can imagine.
MARSHA: Because there are times when I am teaching like three or four periods in a row, and I feel like little daggers are literally in my bra, it has turned into like a torture device and I am just like…I can’t even concentrate. I’m just like what the… And I'm just like okay, I really need to just go like squeeze some of this out! So, I am just trying to think of five-six hours, it’d be crazy!
SUNNY GAULT: Marsha, what age do you teach? What grade do you teach?
MARSHA: I am middle school, seventh and eighth grade math, and I teach children with special needs and students with disabilities.
SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, I was thinking… I was like… I mean, of course, Lori would have this issue as well, but you are dealing with people that…you know, young kids…yeah, I consider these young kids, that like, you know, would think that, you know, anything that it has to do with femininity is funny to them and… You know what I mean? I was just kind of imagining you like having to go through periods of the day and like you said, you start feel like, you know, like the little tingling sensation in my mind not only is that uncomfortable, but I think oh, my Gosh, if I leak through, I will never hear the end of it! I will be around the school, posted on every locker. Do you know what I mean? So, there is so much pressure for both of you, ladies!
LORI GERMAN: Well, I think Marsha and I are actually kindred souls, because while she has middle schoolers, I have all men and it’s sort of the same thing!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Same thing!
LORI GERMAN: I always worry like oh, my Gosh, if I start leaking and these guys see it, I’m never going to hear the end of it! It will be all over the fire-station in just a few minutes!
MARSHA: No, I have a trick, I have a trick! I drink from a water bottle and let some kind of drip down and like oh, my Gosh, look what happened!
SUNNY GAULT: That is awesome! That’s funny! That’s a good one! I like that, Marsha!
MARSHA: It’s happened. When you subconsciously reach up and touch your boobs because of the pressure and stuff, and you are like oh, am I like touching myself? And so you got to kind of play it off and star picking off lent.
SUNNY GAULT: Right! I think we’ve all been in that position where we are used to touching ourselves at home and we are like oh, wait, I am in public now!
LORI GERMAN: It’s actually funny, because, you know, the guys at work, they’ll notice that. And they’ll say to me like: do you have to touch those right now in public? And I am like: oh, sorry, I forgot I am in mixed company, I didn’t mean to embarrass anybody.
SUNNY GAULT: Well, we view them as, you know, something to feed our babies, like, you know what I mean? Other people that are not used to this are viewing it, you know, more sexual, simply because that’s what our society trains us to think. So I get it, but I’ve been in that position before too, it’s funny.
LORI GERMAN: Yeah.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Oh, this is actually a question for Marsha. So, Marsha, and you all, the Affordable Care Act it does have some stipulations in there regarding a part-time employees, specifically substitute teachers not being compensated because they are part-time. I don’t know, have you ever heard of anything like this in your school? Have any nursing moms that are teachers in your school have to deal with this? Do they get compensated?
MARSHA: Because it’s just like set day we don’t get paid like hourly, we getting paid for the day and we are only, the teachers that I know that pump or nurse…oh, well, pump at work I should say, they are doing it on periods when they are normally off. So, the issue with me is now I find out I have more work to do at home. So, the stuff I used to be able to get done at work like grading and things, now I am bringing that home because I am pumping and when I pump and I am not focused on my son, I don’t have as much output, and I kind of need a hand to massage. So, I just can’t get as much done on a periods I am supposed to be. So, that’s the only issue with that. But in terms of pay wise no, nobody would be getting like…I don’t know, dogged or not compensated, because we get paid for the day that we are there.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So, what do you both recommend for moms going back to work considering your unique perspectives and you professions? Do you have any tips you can provide the moms listening?
MARSHA: Yes, definitely! To have spare pump parts at work or maybe in your car, cause you never know what you might forget. It’s overwhelming going back to work and all the things you have to do and think of, and so your mind is not quite there. My mind still isn’t there! I don’t know when I’ll get it back. But I know having extra parts in case you forget something. Definitely an extra nursing bra! I’ve had to make nursing bras out of like my bra to just to have the hands-free mechanism. So, definitely that part! And just being patient and kind to yourself definitely! It’s a lot of pressure being somebody’s food and having to work, but it can get done. You just got to be really patient and stay the course.
LORI GERMAN: Yeah, I think I agree with a lot of that. In our situation, like I said, we are there for a twenty-four hour shift and we basically live there. So, having those extra change of clothes, having the breast pump with the extra parts, all of that is kind of old hat for us, we do that regardless whether we are pumping or not. I do think that… well, actually, in our position as firefighters we actually have to have a return to duty clearance from the doctor. So, before we can actually come back to work, we actually have to have a doctor’s note that says that we are able to perform the duties as prescribed by a firefighter.
We don’t have any fitness for duty, tests or examinations, physical fitness test, I know that there’s a lot of departments out there that actually make women that are returning to the workforce do a physical fitness test to make sure that they can continue to do the job. But being that we are offered…most of the women are only offered twelve weeks than it becomes a non-point. But actually having that conversation with your employer is also a big deal.
And in our particular situation, we are a small department, so I think that there’s been so many women that have already paved the way for the being pregnant, the light duty, the maternity leave and coming back and still pumping, and sort of making that know amongst their co-workers. I think that they’ve paved the way for that. And then also in our situation we are very family oriented and we do look at each other as family, so I don’t really think that there would be any of us that would have anything negative to say about a fellow co-worker pumping or expressing their milk and taking that extra twenty/thirty minutes of time while everybody else is out working in their inside and they are doing what they need to do to take care of their baby.
MARSHA: So, are their twelve weeks paid like from your job, the leave? Because as educators we don’t get any paid leave, time off. In terms of maternity leave, we don’t get even an hour off. They figure with our schedules just plan your pregnancy. Or just lose the days. So, that’s interesting, I’ve seen teachers in my school come back in two weeks, you know. You do what you got to do. So, you know, if you do take more time it is like time coming out of your bank or out of your paycheck. There’s no paid leave for teachers at all. So, that’s hard for some people, they come back really soon.
LORI GERMAN: Yeah, I remember that lady that I think she was the CEO of Yahoo! and she had baby, and she came back to work in two days, or something like that.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Oh, Marissa Mayer?
SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, we’ve had about her. She had twins and I’m just like… Well, when you’ve got a nanny and stuff…
LORI GERMAN: Yeah…
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Well, she claimed a lot of those new rules that she came up with from the Google culture, because she came from Google. So, it’s interesting that she thought that that was okay and that that really happened at Google considering how liberal that company is, you know.
LORI GERMAN: Yeah… I needed my full twelve weeks. Like I said, I had a c-section and I had a c-section with both of my daughters. And I needed the twelve weeks for Emily, and I would have actually like to have taken longer, but I went back to work four weeks after she was post open-heart surgery. But with my second daughter, Sara, I went back in twelve weeks also. And I needed that twelve weeks in order to build my abdominal muscles and just feel like, you know, feel like I was strong enough to actually do the job. I think that the message that’s important to get out is that it’s nice that the government wants to assist nursing moms and make these accommodations, or make employers to make accommodations for us, but in the end I think that nursing moms and moms everywhere just do what we have to do. Unfortunately it is not perfect and it won’t ever be perfect, but we just have to do what we have to do. We have to make accommodations.
If it is in the car, driving to work, like what Marsha does, or if it’s going and finding some dark secret place other than a bathroom to go in and express milk, you know, we just got to do what we got to do. You know, the bigger picture is that we are doing this for our kids and not just for ourselves.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Alright! So, thank you so much to everyone for being part of today’s show and for sharing their experience! If you are a member of The Boob Group, then be sure to check out the bonus content for this episode where we’ll discuss awkward mommy moments at work.
SUNNY GAULT: Alright, so before we wrap up our show today, we do have a question from one of our listeners. And this comes from Chelsea. Chelsea sent us this via e-mail and she says:
My baby is thirty-eight days old and she was in the NICU for a week of her life born at 41.5 weeks, but she had some breathing problems. I wasn’t able to breastfeed right away because of it and she was bottle-fed before I could be released, we were in different hospitals at the time. I started pumping as soon as I could, my milk didn’t come in right away and even when it did, it was low and it’s still low. My question is: at thirty-eight days old, will she take the breast, or should I still bottle-feed her? Is it too late for her to take the breast? And will my milk supply increase?
HELEN ANDERSON: Hi, Chelsea! My name is Helen Anderson and I am a registered nurse and a certified lactation educator, and I am also one of the experts here, at New Mommy Media. First I want to thank you for your voicemail and congratulate you on your new baby! It sounds like your breastfeeding got off to a bumpy start, but you did everything right! You did what you could! You want to start pumping right away and give your body that signal that hey, I am going to breastfeed, start making milk! That’s wonderful! And as you want to transition your baby from the bottle to the breast, you want to put your baby to the breast at the beginning of each feeding session. If you starts to suck or the baby starts to move her mouth a little, that’s wonderful! She might lose a little bit of interest. At that point, you want to use breast compression to kind of hand-express some milk into her mouth, and then she’ll get the idea of oh, yeah, this is where food comes from, yes, I still have the bottle, but this is another feeding option.
And once your baby has kind of gotten buzz at the breast, maybe they don’t understand that they can eat or get food from the breast, then you can go ahead and transition to the bottle. But the breast should be introduced at the beginning of each feeding. Now, your milk supply. We now that a pump doesn’t empty the breast as well as the baby does. So, if you are exclusively pumping, you are at risk of a low milk supply. What I want you to do is go online and Google hands-on-pumping. There’s a great video from Stanford University and what you are going to see is women that use their pump and their hands-free bra to enable them to press on their breast with their hands to get even more milk from their breasts. And what we have is a more thoroughly emptied breast, and then, since we know lactation works on supply and demand, that their supply will then increase once their breast are empties more thoroughly and more frequently. Be sure you are getting enough rest. Be sure you are drinking enough fluids. And if you are doing all of these things, your milk supply should stay stable, if not increase. So, keep up the great work and congratulations, mom!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: That wraps up our show for today. Thanks for listening to The Boob Group!
Don’t forget to check out our sister show:
• Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• Newbies for newly postpartum moms
• Parent Savers for moms and dads with toddlers and
• Twin Talks for parents with multiples.
This is The Boob Group where moms know breast!
This has been a New Mommy Media production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. While such information and materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.
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