Pumping isn’t for the faint of heart…

Some of you may be expecting and planning to pump when you go back to work, or you could be on maternity leave and trying to figure out what to expect when you go back, or maybe you’re already back into work full swing and just feel like you need some help. I’ll preface this by saying I am no pro, much of what I’ve learned has been trial and error, but if sharing my experience can save you the trouble I consider that a win!

So let’s jump right in J first things first… know your rights!

Per the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Section 7) your employer is required to provide break time for an employee to pump for your nursing child for one year after the child’s birth. They are also required to provide you a private place, NOT a bathroom, for you to pump in. So, in short, your employer has to give you time to pump, whenever you need to pump, in a private place. During my work day I am given two 15 minute breaks and one 30 minute lunch break. Typically the scheduled breaks would vary from day to day, but when I returned to work I requested an accommodation to have my breaks at the same time every day. This was super helpful for me in regulating my body. I would definitely advise contacting your employer before you return to go over those details of what is provided and what you will need… and don’t be afraid to ask for accommodations; pumping is a job on its own!

  •  Pump before you return from your leave. No new mama wants to think about the day she has to go back to work, but I promise you getting a couple small pumping sessions in once you have the baby is so worth it. This is something I wish I would’ve started sooner. I didn’t start pumping until 1 week before I was due to go back to work and oh my goodness was that stressful. Not only is it good to learn the ins and outs of your pump so that you’re comfortable with it, it is a huge peace of mind to have back up already piling up in the freezer. Once I got my base supply built up a little back up I was able to give a few bags to my son’s babysitter in case he ever ran out.

  • Get a hands free pumping bra. This is a game changer! Amazon sells a 2-pack (Nude & Black) for $27. So comfy, and also incredibly helpful. Hofish Hands-free Pumping Bra

 

  • WATER. WATER. WATER! You can never have enough of this when your breastfeeding and I’m sure your labor and delivery team drilled this into your head if your OB/Midwife hadn’t already. Seriously. Get yourself a big water bottle and keep that baby filled at all times. I leave one at my desk so that I never forget to bring it to work.

  • Don’t look at what you’re pumping. I make this mistake too often and overly obsess about if I’m pumping enough and the stress does actually make you produce less. Play a game on your phone, read a book, make phone calls… Just distract yourself! Heck, I’ve even turned out the lights and taking a 15 minute power nap. But speaking of distracting, watching videos of your baby can help signal your body. A lactation consultant told me this and I thought it was totally hokey… But it works.

  • Establish a routine. Let’s face it, once you’re a working mom your free moments are basically slim to none. So you can drive yourself a little less crazy by settling into a routine with this, and in turn it will also help your body to know when you’ll be pumping. After being at work for 2 months and taking my break at 9:45 every morning, if I went later, I felt it. Since we have very little free time, don’t obsess over cleaning and sanitizing every single piece after every single use. I wipe the suction cups out with a sani-wipe after every use, but the attachments stay on top of the bottle and into the fridge. I just make sure they soak in hot water as soon as I get home.

  • Don’t expect for this to be totally easy right off the bat. You’ll have hard moments and embarrassing moments. Once I got all the way to work and went to go pump on my first break and realized I forgot the suction cups. No pumping without those! Another time I pulled my tank top down under my bra to pump… when I finished I did not pull the tank top back over my bra and walked across the entire office, back to my desk, before I realized it was down. Thank you, sleep deprivation.  Nobody is a pro at this, so learn to roll with the punches because I guarantee you’re not the first mom to do it.

  • Pump as much as you can. Perhaps your meeting ran short and you’ve not got an extra 10 minutes. Use it to pump! There’s no such thing as too much breast milk. In addition to this, don’t stop pumping when the milk stop flowing. If you notice you stop 10 minutes into your session try putting your pump up higher. Stimulating your body as much as possible will mean you’ll produce more, because as we all know breastfeeding is entirely about supply and demand.

  • DON’T STRESS. This is so much easier said than done I know, but really, like I said… so much of this is trial and error. You’ll learn in time what works for you. Don’t be embarrassed to ask your employer for the things you need. To be totally honest with you, I think that my boss is embarrassed to talk about it, which in turn made it stressful for me because I felt I couldn’t approach it. I had to learn to just get over it and realize that what I’m doing is nothing to be embarrassed about. I feel like when most people think of breastfeeding and pumping they think it’s an easy natural thing and it’s not. Funny story… when I had my son I had issues breastfeeding at first and I literally sat in my hospital bed so mad (I was actually crying I was so mad) at all the mom’s in my life for not telling me how hard breastfeeding was. I even told my mom when she came to visit how upset I was at her for not telling me and for making it look so easy. Got to love those post-partum hormones, am I right? I was/am the first girl in my family to be a working mom so as far as help with pumping I was pretty much left to the outside resources. We as moms make a lot of sacrifices and the sacrifice we make to pump is a hard one but an amazing one. My, how I would love to be able to eat in the cafeteria or outside on my lunch break rather than pumping! There have been so many days where I’ve just wanted to stop and give him formula so I can be done with it. Reach out to other mamas if you’re feeling overwhelmed, because you’re not alone and just know that what you are doing is amazing!

 

Thriving Mamas

 

 

Tell your comparison thoughts to fuck off..

Comparison LOL its’s such an ugly thing isnt it? Yet its so easy for us to do. We get online and we automatically compare ourselves to others. We instantly want what we dont have, or for some reason think everyone else’s life is much better than our own. Gratitude and being thankful goes right out the window as we continue to scroll.

We have thoughts like:

– She is so pretty, why dont I look like that?

-Her family is so perfect.

-What a beautiful house; why cant I own one like that?

-I wish I could stay at home with my kids or I wish I had a job to get some peace of mind everyday.

-How does she always have such perfect outfits?

-I wish I had that car, that boat, that toy…

-I wish I had more money like they do.

-I wish I could travel more often.

-Why doesnt my boyfriend/husband do nice things like that for me?

-They seem so happy… why dont I fell happy like that?

-I wish my body looked like that.

-Why does my life seem like a mess, while everyone else’s seems so put together?

I wish, I wish, I wish, I want, I want, I want! These are the constant feelings that come up when all we do is compare our life to the lives that we see on our social media feeds. Does this sound familiar? Can you relate? How awful do you feel after you have been scrolling and comparing yourself to everyone else? Or constantly reminding yourself of what you dont have instead of focusing on what you do have? I know it’s easy; we all do it, but we should be really telling our comparison feelings to fuck off. each person has their own journey, each person will reach success and happiness at different times. We all go through things, we all reach achievements, we all reach milestones, we all will get to where we need to be in time. We need to allow this to be okay instead of constantly focusing on what we dont have. Instead of comparing we should put all our focus on what we need to be happy, and what we need to do within ourselves to get to the place that we want to be.

Take this week and make a goals list, make a happy list, make any type of list that you want but make a list of where you want to be, what you want your life to look like, what makes you happy and what you need to do to get there. Comparing is only going to keep you stuck, it takes work to be content and if you are unhappy with you life tell your feelings to fuck off and do the work to change it and make your life something you are proud of 🙂

THRIVING MAMAS

Bad coffee, not a bad life…

Raise your hand if you any of the following have ever described you:

(Ok, you don’t actually have to raise your hand, but just keep reading and mentally raise your hand…)

– You set your alarm to get up at the last possible second

– You toss a toy your kids way when they awake up before your alarm is set

– You weigh decisions by making compromises with yourself like “if I stay up till 10pm tonight that means I won’t get up to shower in the morning.”

– You write stuff on your to-do list that you’ve already done so that you feel more accomplished

– You get to work and realize at least 1 article of your clothing is inside out and/or backwards

– You pack a lunch you’re really excited about and then on your lunch break you realize it’s still sitting at home on the kitchen counter

– You do your makeup in the car

– You reset the dryer even though your clothes are dry just so the daunting silence of clean clothes sitting there doesn’t eat away at you

– You reheat your coffee at least twice before you’ve finished your cup

Alright, I’m going to stop it right there because I think you get it…. HOT MESS. Do you have days where you wake up and you know the day is just going to suck? You overslept, you hit snooze way to many times(or in my case ten times because that’s how many alarms I have to set LOL), You ran out of coffee(probably the worst thing that could ever happen), or even worse you are late and you are rushing so you spill it all over you? Your child or children are whining and not cooperating at all and all you’re trying to do is get out the door? YES I am guilty of all of the above! I know when this happens to me I tend to go from calm to frustrated in 2.5 seconds and I then let it ruin my entire day. I think it’s so easy for us to feel angry, upset, frustrated and allow these feelings to linger throughout our entire day and make it just plain shit. But why should our day suck just because our coffee is bad? Life is frustrating, being a mom is overwhelming, bad moods will always come, and well shit happens daily. Why should we allow all the shitty parts of life ruin our happiness and ruin our moods? We shouldn’t. It’s not realistic to say that we will never get mad, that we will never get overwhelmed, that we will never get frustrated, that our coffee will never suck but it is realistic to say I can do things that can turn my day around instead of sulking the entire day away. I now instead of acting like a pissed off version of myself I made a list of things that help me when I am feeling down and now I do them.

Disclaimer: Now don’t let my happy attitude fool you I have a lot of days where I hate the world can you all relate?

I know how defeated you feel when you get home at the end of the day and your child(ren) are whiny, your to do list is somehow longer, you’ve got a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, and you’re eating McDonalds for dinner. Stop. We have ALL done this! I, personally, can say that everything listed above has happened to me in the span of twenty-four hours. Just because you’re having a rough day, week, or month does not mean you’re not doing a good job.

So here is a little experiment:

On the day when you are feeling like the biggest hot mess. Whether it starts bad, has a bad middle, ends bad, or the entire day is bad, when you say your head down that night ask yourself these questions (and be honest with yourself)

– Am I happy?

– Am I fulfilled?

– Are my kids happy?

– Do I have someone I can truly lean on?

Now on your BEST day, when your hair is flawless, you eyeliner doesn’t smudge, your butt looks great in those jeans, you drank your coffee before it went cold, you found 20 bucks in your jacket, and no one has puked in your hair today… ask yourself those same questions.

I am willing to bet you that your answers will not vary by much, if at all. If you’re not happy: make a list of things that will make you happy. Make that list your to-do list, not the one that has chores on it. If you’re not fulfilled, take time to yourself and think about what will make you feel fulfilled. Maybe it’s a hobby you’ve been wanting to get into or a class you’ve been wanting to take. I’m not even going to go into if your kids aren’t happy because I assure you, they are. They have you as a mother. If you do not have a support system you can lean on, look no further because we are here for you.

Everyone’s list is going to be different but here are some things we do when anything and everything is going wrong:

Stop by a good coffee shop and treat ourselves to a fancy coffee

Listen to a positive podcast

Journal those shitty feelings right out

Vent to our best friends

Open a book and take our minds off reality for a little bit

Stretch it out

Listen to music

Take a solo walk/Take a walk with our children

All hail the power of tea time especially Matcha Tea Lattes

Search uplifting quotes and post them because hey why not help other people out if they are having a bad day too

Binge watch one of our favorite shows on netflix

Diffuse essential oils

Workout

Get together with friends

Painting/Photography/Take a new class

Bubble Baths

Make a gratitude list

Lean more into our Faith

Clean

Bring those candles out

Try a new recipe

We hope that this week that you are inspired to take care of YOU and to really try things that will fulfill you and set you up for a less stressful week. Just remember you are never alone you will always have support right at your finger tips!

 

 

Thriving Mamas

 

 

A Little Mother’s Day Reflection…

               As Mother’s Day is coming to an end I am reflecting on how blessed I really am to be a mother and how lucky I am to have so many people in my life who show me what being a mother truly means and learning from them through friends and family. Over the past two years I really have grown so much and have rode a rollercoaster of emotions; I’ve felt happiness, joy, blessed, thankful, loved, growth, motivation, overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated, burnt out, not a good enough mother, anxiety, and more.  I have gone through so many learning experiences and learned how important the job of being a mother really is. This is why it makes me extremely happy that we have a day to spoil mothers and show them the much needed appreciation that they deserve. Y’all, we deserve a pat on the back, a hug, a high five, a drink, or maybe 7, (LOL) for everything that we as mothers do!!! Let’s be honest we rock the word perseverance like a badass! I say this because we really can go from being overjoyed to the next second just praying for 2 minutes alone in the bathroom by ourselves. The main reason I wanted to write this post at the end of Mother’s Day is because we all spent the whole day taking care of us, and being fulfilled through connection and time with our families and friends, being happy and celebrating other moms in our lives as well as ourselves. The question is though shouldn’t we be doing things to make ourselves feel like this every day?  Shouldn’t we put a little self-care into our day so we don’t end up burnt out, unappreciated, overly exhausted unfulfilled? I use to feel like that… I was tired of rolling through the motions and I know our main priority is our children but doing little things for ourselves to make our day better I think is so necessary for our well-being. It’s so important to take care of us so that we can continue to take care of others as well as being fulfilled in our lives not just as a mother but as an individual. I know I know… We don’t have any time, we just want to sleep as much as we can, we have to many responsibilities and I get it, but all I am saying is maybe do little things throughout the day to make YOU feel good. I like to get up early in the morning before my daughter gets up to enjoy my coffee and listen to a podcast, does it always happen? No, but when I do it makes me feel refreshed and less stressed. I try to meal prep at the beginning of the week because it makes me feel like things run smoother. I have tea time every day while at work because tea makes me happy and it takes seconds to make. I try to have a bath bomb bath once a week and to read because these things make me happy and keep me going and keep me fulfilled. I just want to challenge you all to do the same you deserve to feel this fulfilled and this appreciated and this happy a lot more than one day and I hope that you continue to do things to rock motherhood and continue to thrive in your individuality 😊

-Alexa

I’ve watched Alexa face the challenges and joys of being a mother before I ever did. It’s one thing to watch someone go through it and another to actually go through it. Let me just say…. I had no idea! Since becoming a mother I have a new found respect for women in ALL walks of life who are doing this. It’s a daily sacrifice. Whether you’re doing it alone, or with a partner, whether it’s your first or your 5th… It’s tough work. It’s incredibly rewarding, no doubt, but it also wears on you in ways you never knew possible. Becoming a mother changes your life in an incredible way. All the joy and beauty that comes forth from that also comes with its hardships. I really struggled (still sometimes do) when I returned to work and my son was in the care of someone else for 40 hours a week. This was hard for me because 1. I missed my baby so much! And 2. Because I felt guilty for taking extra time away from him to do things for me. I thought that he would feel neglected if I took time off that wasn’t mandatory to go get a drink, to catch up with a friend, etc. The bond I have with my son is amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but in my head I built it up that we would lose this bond if I were to do things on my own every now and then. Though I still struggle with this sometimes, I just want to encourage you all who feel this in some way, shape or form, to not let this guilt get a hold of you. It’s okay it take time for yourself every now and then. It’s okay to not love every second of motherhood. I have a little quote that I often times use as my mantra: “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” It doesn’t have to be anything big or extravagant. You don’t have to take a weekend off and go out of town. Just do little things throughout the day that make you happy! Some things that I do to “refill my cup” are blaring my favorite music on my way to work after I drop my son off, because I wouldn’t normally do this when he’s in the car. Staying up 20 minutes later to read a chapter of a book I’ve been trying to get through. Taking a nice hot bath with a few drops of essential oils in there.  Getting up a few minutes earlier than him and doing some yoga, or just some quiet reflection. Maybe you don’t always like doing things alone, or you don’t have the option of a babysitter, but you’re still feeling burnt out… Call up some of your friends and have a movie night! Go to the park and take a walk. Look for events happening in your area. Make a list of what makes you feel happy and start checking those off! When you’ve checked them all off, start again. Making your self-care a priority.

-Judith

It’s just as important to take care of yourself as it is to have a good support system. I hope that each and every one of you has at least one person you can lean on when you’re not feeling the strongest. And if you don’t have that support, you have it now. Alexa and I both created this so that all of us feel connected, encouraged, inspired, and uplifted on this amazing journey of motherhood!

-Thriving Mamas