Making It Work
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 12 No. 1, January-February 1995, pp. 26-7
We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time.
"Making It Work" is a regular feature of the magazine NEW BEGINNINGS, published bimonthly by La Leche League International. In this column, suggestions are offered by readers of NEW BEGINNINGS to help mothers who wish to combine breastfeeding and working. Various points of view are presented. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature, and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise.
My daughter will be one year old soon, and I've been expressing milk at work twice a day since she was born. Now that she's getting older, co-workers make comments such as "How much longer will you be doing that?" I usually quote the experts and say I 'm "supposed" to nurse for one year. Since becoming involved with LLL, however, I've learned that such deadlines may not be in my daughter's nor my own best interest. How can I answer the question "How much longer?" in a way that will encourage the support these people offered so generously when my daughter was younger?
I carried my pump to and from work until my daughter, Ilana, was about ten months old. I got "How long will you be doing that?" questions almost daily. My usual response was "Oh, it should only take about ten minutes."
Even so, I would get comments about how ridiculous it was that I was nursing my child so long. I often would ask, "Why does it bother you?" No one ever came up with a good answer and invariably would back off.
When people make rude or insensitive comments, it helps to recognize that they most often stem from guilt about not having breastfed. Others simply don't know about the benefits to both mother and baby. These benefits don't end at six months of age. Perhaps you can tell co-workers that you and your daughter have a special nursing relationship that you hope to continue for as long as you both enjoy it.
Ilana continued nursing on weekends and in the evenings and early morning hours until she was about eighteen months old. She then began nursing only at bedtime and continued to do so until she was past three. Working and extended breastfeeding can work!
Englewood NJ USA
When my son reached about nine months of age, suddenly I was faced with questions about how long we would continue nursing. Sometimes they were polite inquiries, other times the question was not a friendly one. Incidentally, my co-workers are doctors and nurses. I've discovered that many medical personnel are not familiar with the idea of nursing past the first few months, let alone past the first year. I've found it helpful to explain the benefits of extended nursing and baby-led weaning without being defensive. Some have understood and offered support while others can be quite verbal in their rejection. To those verbal few, I reply "I respect your opinion and while you may not agree, I'm sure you will respect mine." Be confident; your decision is right for you and your baby. LLL meetings are a lifesaver when it seems that nobody understands.
Gaston OR USA
I also was asked "How long are you going to do that?" At first, I responded with "The doctors recommend one year." Finally, though, I got fed up. One day a co-worker who smoked asked me the question, and I said "How long do you intend to smoke?"
Bloomfield NJ USA
Don't let your co-workers discourage you from enjoying a nursing relationship with your toddler. Working mothers need the quiet peacefulness of nursing as much as their children do!
Lakeville MN USA