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Making It Work

Self-employed Mom

Ruth Weston
Bradford, GB
From: New Beginnings, Vol. 29 No. 4, 2009, pp.32-33

I am the mother of five beautiful children. I really enjoyed being with my last child and watching him grow. As someone who is self-employed, I had to start back to work very soon after the birth but was able to build up gradually and, of course, I took my baby with me to work to breastfeed there. Not everyone can do that -- but it is something to consider.

I have to say I have always enjoyed the stimulation and social contact of work, but my children and I have also needed time together. There is a balance to be struck. Mothers returning to work face a challenge, but there are things that can ease the impact of change and even make it a positive development. We can learn from the experience of friends and acquaintances, and here are my two cents' worth of hard earned experience.

I wish I had read Nursing Mother, Working Mother by Gale Pryor* four children earlier -- it included everything I needed to work and care for my baby! It was passed around our La Leche League Group again and again. It is a feel-good book with lots of encouragement and inspiration and then gives a range of really good "how-to" tips, advice, and suggestions backed up by experience and stories.

My tips

  • Be clear what your priorities are and why, so you will not feel trapped by your choices. Have a "survive and thrive" plan.
  • Find the right child care. Go with your gut instinct as well as doing your research when you visit a place. Be prepared to change your mind if it doesn't work out.
  • Make sure you have a couple of backups for child care as well. For instance, can your partner take a turn if necessary? Is there another child minder who could cover at short notice?
  • Greet your child with a cuddle and a lovely breastfeed at the end of the day (either at the carer's place or as soon as you get home).
  • Reverse cycle feeding can help your baby get enough breastmilk if he is not keen to take a bottle from someone when you are not with him. It worked really well for me. Tom nursed through the night on the days I worked, and I slept while he fed! During the day when I wasn't there he drank water and juice!
  • Be prepared and feel able to back out and change plans if things are not working out well. With my ?rst child, I had a full-time job but within six weeks it was clear that 18-month-old Hannah was not happy being at nursery full time, though she was able to enjoy it when she went part time. Within three months I was working part time again. I was clear what my priorities were and ?t everything around that.
  • Blue sky thinking. Use that same verve and creativity that you need as a mother of small children to conjure up imaginative solutions to the challenges you face. Most of all, know that whatever you do,working within the home, outside the home, or both, as a nursing mother you are being the best mother you can be.

Be proud of what you accomplish. Being a nursing and working mother is doing two full-time jobs at once -- that is amazing stuff.

* Pryor, G. and Huggins, K. RN, MS. Nursing Mother, Working Mother: The Essential Guide for Breastfeeding and Staying Close to Your Baby After You Return to Work, revised edition: Harvard Common Press, The, 2007.

See too Hicks, J., ed. Hirkani's Daughters: Women Who Scale Modern Mountains to Combine Breastfeeding and Working. LLLI, 2005.

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