Boardrooms & Boobs: Making Breastfeeding Work at Work


By: Sarah McClanahan

Before we get into how to feed babies with your boobs (after all, that’s why we have them), let me first say that I give props to all moms, especially those with babies. It’s ridiculously challenging to keep them (mostly) happy and healthy. If you choose formula from day one or use it when nursing doesn’t work out, whether you work in or out of the home, being a mom is hard work – wonderful, rewarding and hard.

With that out of the way, let’s get pumped up!

I work full time out of the home and have managed to breastfeed Sweet Baby Ethan for seven months as of this week. And I love it. I’ll spare you the gushy details about how nursing my children has forged a bond with them that literally makes my heart ache, but I will say that I know that I’m truly blessed to have been able to care for my children in this way.

There are so many roadblocks that nursing moms have to overcome, especially if they work out of the home. Keeping up your milk supply is no joke. It makes me really appreciate whoever invented the double electric breast pump. Thanks, dude. Totally nailed it.

I’m not going to lie. Pumping sucks. Literally. It’s one thing to pump for relief from engorgement or to start a small freezer stash, but it’s a whole other thing to pump regularly while juggling your work responsibilities – every day, several times a day.

Here’s how I keep my supply up and craziness down.

I go with the concept of nursing/pumping about every three hours. I’m blessed beyond words to work for an organization with on-site childcare. I only have to pump twice a day and can nurse Sweet Baby Ethan on my lunch break. WIN!

I do my best to never skip a pumping session. It would spell disaster for my supply. To that end, here’s tip #1. Block times on your calendar to avoid scheduling meetings or projects that would cause you to miss a session.

Here’s a typical daytime schedule:

7:00 a.m. – Nurse Sweet Baby Ethan before work

9:30 a.m. – First pumping session

11:45 p.m. – Nurse Sweet Baby Ethan

3:30 p.m. – Second pumping session

7:00 p.m. – Nurse Sweet Baby Ethan to bed

Armed with my super-awesome double electric pump, each session lasts 20 minutes. I pump more in the mornings (10-12 oz) and less in the afternoons (5-7 oz).

breastfeeding at work

Right now, I average 8 oz per session, which gives me about 16 oz per day. Sweet Baby Ethan takes 14 oz each day, so we we’re able to boost our stash by at least 10 oz a week. I also pump once in the morning on the weekends since I have a lot of milk in the mornings. So far, we have around 135 bags of breast milk in our stash. It’s a little more than 650 oz! See… dairy cow.

breastfeeding for working moms

If you’ve ever pumped, then you know. The numbers game is brutal if you aren’t matching baby 1:1. Brutal. I remember pumping for Super Colin and watching the numbers dwindle toward the end of our breastfeeding journey. It’s happened with Sweet Baby Ethan during growth spurts, and naturally, I panicked.

But there are things you can do to increase your supply. For me, it’s drinking water, and when I think I’ve had enough, I drink more water. I also eat oatmeal every day.

It’s important to remember that what you pump does NOT reflect how much milk you’re actually producing. Your body was created to feed a person, not a machine. So don’t think you have zero milk in your body if you only can get out a few ounces at a time.

breastfeeding tips

There are also a lot of logistics to consider when you’re a working mom with a nursling. Where can I pump? How do I clean my pump parts? Where can I store my milk?

And these questions are just the ones to consider when going back to work. You also need to think about what kind of pump you should get. When should you start pumping? When do you introduce the bottle?

Find out what I did to make the transition to nursing working mom in my next post.



Boardrooms & Boobs: Making Breastfeeding Work at Work

By: Sarah McClanahan

Making Breastfeeding Work at WorkDISCLAIMER: These posts will talk a lot about my boobs. That’s how you breastfeed, by the way. With your boobs. If you’re not interested in boobs, or breastfeeding, you may want to read something else.

Jodi Picoult once wrote, “24/7. Once you sign on to be a mother, that’s the only shift they offer.” And it’s true. Motherhood is a full time job.

I’m the proud mother of two little boys. Super Colin turned 4 in February, and Sweet Baby Ethan is 6-1/2 months old. As if that wasn’t crazy enough, my husband and I both work full time. Oh, and I’m breastfeeding.

Feeding a baby is a full time job in itself. Most of the time, I feel as if I work three jobs. There’s my professional job, the one where I parent two kids and run a household with my husband, and the one where I’m the human equivalent of a dairy cow.

How do I do it? I have no idea. When you’re sleep-deprived and juggling a slew of deadlines, things can get a little fuzzy. What I do know is that it’s not easy being a nursing mother, let alone one who works outside the home. There are times when it’s frustrating, exhausting and downright comical, but it has always been worth it.

It’s funny. Before I became a mother, I never thought I’d breastfeed my children. It just wasn’t for me. When I became pregnant with Super Colin, I figured that I’d give it a shot. After all, I worked at a hospital and knew the spiel. If it worked out, great. If not, that was OK, too.

Little did I know how natural breastfeeding would be for me, and how much I would love it. No latch issues, no infections. With Colin, I went back to work full time after an eight-week maternity leave, and I managed to exclusively breastfeed him for nine months, supplemented for another month and made the switch to formula at 10 months.

Making Breastfeeding Work at WorkI went from completely disinterested in breastfeeding to “breast is best” within hours of meeting my firstborn. I loved nursing Super Colin, and when I became pregnant with Sweet Baby Ethan, I knew that we would do everything possible to make breast best again.

And so far, it is. We’ve been exclusively breastfeeding for a little more than six months and Ethan is thriving on Mommy’s milk.

By no means am I an expert on breastfeeding, but I hope that these posts will help expectant and new families as they figure out how they want to feed their children. Whether it’s with your boobs, formula or some combination of the two, or you stay at home or work out of the home, we’re all doing the best we can for our kids.

Find out how we’ve made breast best for us in my next post!