In honor of Labor Day Weekend, let's chat about my first day back to work after maternity leave. A new mom’s first day back to work from maternity leave isn’t typically something that is celebrated. We don’t take pictures in our “first day of work” outfit with a sign notating the date or what not, like parents do on their kids’ first day of school. But it’s a BIG. DEAL. We SHOULD be proud of the outfit we managed to put together for our first day. We should be proud that we made it out of the house in something presentable at all! My first day back to work was a whirlwind of emotions. First off, my baby decided to make his way into the world a month early, which meant I also went back to work a month earlier than I thought I was going to. Then, my routine that I finally got down pat while I was on maternity leave just got thrown in the shredder. And the pre-work routine I had down to a science before my baby was born met my maternity leave routine in that same shredder. Can you tell I’m a creature of habit? I really like my routines…
Anyways, my new routine included packing a bag full with my breast pump, pump parts, milk collection bags/bottles, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, insulated bag with ice packs, pumping bra, and…I’m sure I’m forgetting something. I needed a giant water bottle and LOTS of snacks to give myself enough hydration and calories throughout the day to ensure I make enough milk for my little human. And then there was the whole mess of getting dressed. What was flattering for my new mom bod? Actually…forget flattering. What FIT my new mom bod that was appropriate for work? What fabric wouldn’t be totally ruined if I leaked milk during the day? What types of shirts would make access to my nursing bra easy so I could then put on my pumping bra without wasting a million years to struggle with my clothing in order to start pumping?
The answer was simple –there was no answer. I made do with some high-waisted black pants that were much tighter than the last time I wore them (think: unwanted muffin top), my favorite Natori nursing bra, and a button down blouse that was gaping at my chest because my boobs were now one band size and 2 cup sizes bigger than they used to be.
Don’t get me wrong –being able to have a baby and nurse that baby is SUCH a blessing and I wouldn’t change the experience for the world. But to be a working/nursing mom is no easy task. The “mother’s room” to pump in was about a 7-minute walk (and I’m a speedy walker…) from my desk on the complete opposite corner of the building, 3 floors up. Then, when I finally got there (sweating buckets, I might add), I needed to set up the pump, unbutton each button of my blouse to then unhook my nursing bra clasps so that I can put on my hands-free pumping bra, and then hook myself up to the pump so I could THEN start pumping. What an ordeal!
I just knew there HAD to be something better out there to make the whole nursing/pumping at work process easier on myself. I searched and I searched and came up short. Every nursing/pumping all-in-one bra that I found was more like a bralette or sports bra, which is inappropriate to wear under anything other than active wear or t-shirts (lucky you if you get to wear t-shirts to work!). I found ONE nursing/pumping bra that resembled a regular bra, but it was super uncomfortable and wasn’t a great fabrication –it was this thick lace material that showed under most fabrics. But I ended up wearing it EVERY day simply because it made pumping a LITTLE bit easier –not having to bring a different bra to work each day and struggle with a costume change was worth the discomfort!
Breastfeeding is not easy and it really feels like a full time job in itself. Any working mom, who is also breastfeeding, desperately needs a few minutes back in her day. I hope Ailana J. can give fellow nursing moms the gift of a little less time wasted in their day that I did not have. Go straight from the board room to the pump room without skipping a beat. No fuss, less mess, more time.