Let’s face it – bringing my pump back and forth every day, plus cooler bag, bottles and icepack, not to mention having to tear myself from work every so often, washing, sterilising, refrigerating – frankly, nursing at work is a chore. No wonder the average duration of breastfeeding in Singapore is just 13 weeks.
A few weeks ago, my work schedule intensified and I didn’t have the time to express properly. As a result, my milk supply dipped precipitously. I was close to buying Aramis his first tin of formula.
Then I recalled what my lactation nurse had told me all those years back – to pump regularly every 3 hours to stimulate supply. So I did. It was slow-going at first, and the more frustrated I got the worse it went. But I persevered. I even got up in the middle of the night to express what Aramis didn’t consume.
I’m thankful to be breastfeeding Aramis 5 months down the road. But I totally sympathise with women who want to give up once they get back to work. I’ve been close to giving up a number of times (most recently last week….)
Here are some things that have helped:
- A supportive work environment – Physically, we have spare rooms that can be used for nursing, and a pantry with a freezer and sink. There is at least one other nursing mother, and my colleagues have been nothing but understanding.
- Nursing-friendly clothes – An absolute necessity. I have some nursing wear, but front-buttoned blouses and stretchy wrinkle-proof shirts work just as well.
- Portable equipment – I use the Medela Mini-Electric, which is small and light enough to be carried back and forth, though the suction is not as strong as I’d like. I’ve used the Medela Pump-In-Style which is expensive, bulky, but very effective. If you can afford it, get a pump just for the office.
- Breastfeed baby as much as possible – nothing like the real thing! On weekends, I try to breastfeed exclusively, which helps with the supply.
Also, here are some website that are really helpful:
- Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group – A local group with an information-rich website and even a hotline.
- La Leche League – an international non-profit. Their website was a reassuring resource for me when I was struggling with breastfeeding Athos.
- Breastfeeding.com – a US site with a particularly good section on working moms.