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Moms' stories about breastfeeding and working stresses and barriers

These notes from my work with breastfeeding mothers in WIC show the difficulties, concerns, fears, and disappointments that so many mothers experience as they return to work outside the home when their young babies are still breastfeeding frequently and fully reliant on breastfeeding for all their nutrition! It’s so sad that American moms do not receive the same type of support most other countries in the world give to their mothers and children by allowing them to stay at home with their young babies and receive the needed social support of paid family leave. They are caring for and feeding our future citizens—so why do we not have paid family leave in America?! Below are some of their stories and concerns from my work notes with names removed.

….is interested in breastfeeding. She did not breastfeed her others due to returning to work, but she won’t be returning to work after this baby is born. She said she didn’t feel working and breastfeeding was possible and she is sorry she didn’t try.

….is planning on weaning from breastfeeding due to returning to work. Pumping is too time consuming, she states, and she can’t take regular breaks to pump in her job. She plans to wean by next appointment and wants to get more formula to supplement.

…is mostly breastfeeding … but does give some formula also even though she has enough expressed breastmilk as she wants her baby to get used to the taste of formula since she worries she will eventually not have enough expressed breastmilk. She is returning to full-time high school and a weekend job soon and will be separated from her baby often. She wants to save some of her expressed breastmilk for later so he will have some continued immune protection after she loses her milk supply, she states.

...states she can’t pump any milk at all and she has tried pumps from friends. I encouraged her to come in to see me to get a better pump and flange fit assessed, as that can affect pumping output. She is worried about returning to work and wants to start her stash of expressed breast milk. I encouraged her to focus on direct breastfeeding now when she is home with baby as that will stimulate her milk supply better than any pump.

….states she went back to full-time work and received a double electric pump from her insurance company but couldn’t pump enough milk so she started supplementing with formula at 1 month of age. Then her baby started to get fussy at breastfeeds after getting regular bottles so she lost her milk supply and had to wean to complete formula feeding by the time he was 2 months old. She states she is disappointed, as her breastfeeding goal was for 6 months. She said working and breastfeeding was harder than she thought it would be.

….is currently fully breastfeeding and she states her baby does not like bottles so she is worried about her going hungry at daycare.

….continues to fully breastfeed and states she loves breastfeeding but has concerns about pumping enough milk when she returns to work.

… fully breastfeeding her baby. Her baby is not accepting bottles yet. We discussed her return to work and she states she is fearful of her baby being fussy and crying when she is gone and the day care workers being abusive to her baby because she is fussy.

…is trying to re-lactate but has been working a lot and is separated from her baby. She stated, “I know it is important to breastfeed but now my baby is refusing to stay at breast for a feed. I guess she prefers the bottle now because she gets so many of them since I have been working a lot of hours.”

Few states cover any paid leave in America, and usually it is only for 6–12 weeks. We desperately need a National Paid Family Leave In America for at least 6 months! Is that too much to ask to support our parents and their children—our future workers in America?

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