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Breastfeeding can be a challenge for any mom, but working moms can face many barriers that sometimes require a little bit of support

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 5:54 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Every new mom and dad has to adjust to the changes as they become parents, but moms who decide to breastfeed face additional challenges. Kristina Beaugh, mother of two daughters, remembers the new mom struggle all too well.

“When I had my first daughter, Ellie, I had to go back to work full time after she was ten weeks old. I remember she was sick the day I had to go back to work, and it was so awful. I was struggling with postpartum depression and breastfeeding was already difficult,” says Beaugh.

The challenges keep coming if a mom has to return to work while breastfeeding that often means carving out time to pump at the office and sometimes switching to formula sooner than perhaps planned which can lead to feelings of guilt or even failure for some moms.

“A lot of women don’t have the choice, they have to go back to work to feed their families and that was a choice, that was definitely a requirement for us,” adds Beaugh.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers breastfeed exclusively for at least six months, to meet that expectation, it can mean pumping every couple of hours. However, finding the right breast pump isn’t always easy. They can be expensive and what works for one mom may not work for another. While some pumps are covered by health insurance, Beaugh says her insurance did not cover what she felt she needed to discreetly pump at work.

“It was very old model and it wasn’t something that was efficient for sure,” says Beaugh.

Then there are the logistical issues of pumping at work. While employees are legally supposed to allow time and space, that is not a bathroom for employees, to pump in private. It can be an awkward conversation for moms to have with their boss. Beaugh says she often found herself having to choose between pumping or attending a meeting, adding on extra pressure.

Support groups like the Villyge are geared to helping working moms make sure their rights are being met including making sure they know their rights in the workplace.

“We have career coaches as well as parenting experts on a call all the time because so of much what goes into a working parent’s success isn’t just the to parent or how to breastfeed in a silo but it’s that integration of how to navigate some of the difficult conversations with our managers,” said Debi Yadegari who is the CEO and founder of Villyge.

Villyge is a support group helping moms nationwide, they provide a hotline for moms to call when they are having issues with challenges in the workplace or breastfeeding in general—such as low milk supply production—it’s a common fear for breastfeeding moms.

However, lactation counselors like Cynthia Evans, who works at Woman’s Hospital, says a dip in milk supply is common.

“It can vary from mom to mom, when they do return to work it is hard. They are away from their baby for long periods of time. Sometimes, they do see a dip in their milk supplies,” says Evans.

When moms are producing less milk, they often have to supplement with formula or switch al together. That can be a tough decision for moms, who may feel guilty about not breastfeeding longer. Evans says every mom should remember the important thing is your baby is fed, no matter what if it’s formula or breast milk. She also says even a little bit of breast milk can go a long way.

“The baby has to be fed, that’s the most important thing is that the baby is fed whether it’s breast milk that you can provide and if not then the baby has to have those calories with the formula,” says Evans.

Another important piece of advice from Evans and Villyge support group, they want to remind mothers that they are not alone and that it’s okay to ask for help. It’s what moms like Beaugh needed to hear. “Every mom has that guilt of am I feeding my baby correctly, is she sleeping enough, am I doing everything I am supposed to do? You are the perfect mom for your child and no one else can do the job as well as you can,” adds Beaugh.

If you are interested in seeking some advice from Woman’s Hospital click here: https://www.womans.org/

If you are interested in the service Villyge offers, click here: https://villyge.com/

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