Tag: working mother

Chronicles Of A Working Mum – Tips To Help On Your Breastfeeding Journey

Chronicles Of A Working Mum – Tips To Help On Your Breastfeeding Journey

I love being a working mother, I love being able to have my “own identity” at work and earning my own money. I love being a mother slightly more though, and my children are by far the greatest gift I have ever been given and the most important thing in my life.

The hardest thing you will ever have to do is “go back to work” after having a baby. I have been extremely blessed so far in my career to work for organizations that are flexible in terms of hours and working conditions, something I am pleased to say is becoming easier in South Africa. I only truly “went back to work” with my eldest, and I did that for 4 months before finding a role that allowed me to work from home and be with my boys for over 4 years. Now on baby 3 I find myself “returning to the workplace” once again, leaving a little 3 month old baba at home.

Yes, part of me wants to “run back to the office”. Lets be honest here, and don’t judge me, having been a “stay at home” mum and a “working mum”, it’s a hell of a lot easier on some days to run away to the office and let your caregiver take care of the crying, nap times and feeds. A large part of me however, also wants to stay at home and soak in every single cuddle and sweet smile. The years fly by and in the blink of an eye she will be walking and talking. But, like 90% of South Africa’s women, I need to go back into the office and I am beyond grateful that I have a super nanny to look after my babygirl and I don’t need to put her into a creche yet.

The hardest part of going back to work is always the preparation stage. If you are breastfeeding, it’s making sure whenever you have a free moment, that you are pumping milk to freeze. It’s getting baby used to the nanny/ caregiver and allowing them to learn each other. It means sitting in another room and using all your might not to run and hold baby at every single cry. Hearing your baby crying but knowing that you need to let another person get used to her and understand her cues, to learn her signals like you do as her mother.

The one thing I can do for my babygirl is feed her, and I wouldn’t give that up for the world. Breastfeeding for me is just the most special journey. I breastfed my eldest for over a year, my second son for over 2 years and although circumstances are different now, I fully intend to feed my babygirl for over a year too. Maintaining a corporate career and breastfeeding a baby is a full on commitment in itself and one that I certainly wouldn’t be able to do with some help along the way.

If you are planning on keeping up your supply whilst working there are a couple of things you can do to help you on your journey:

  • Firstly, a really great double pump, and make sure you get a hands free bustier. I’m currently using the Medela Freestyle and loving it! Its compact and small and has a fully chargeable lithium battery, meaning I can pop down to my car to pump (open plan offices and clear glass windows in meeting rooms aren’t great for pumping). It takes 17 minutes from start to finish for me to pump out a full feed for Raya, and with the hands free bustier I can even carry on working. Nothing makes you feel more like a superwomen then multitasking 🙂 They key is to try and pump as close to baby’s normal feeding times as possible. I make sure I have enough of a freezer stash available to last a week or two and then whatever I pump that day gets replenished. As soon as I am at home, baby feeds from me as normal.
  • Mrs Milk Lactation Bars – Different to traditional lactation cookies in that Mrs Milk provides nutrition, for both mum and baby. “Mrs Milk” bars are fantastic for busy mama’s, not only providing you with key “milk boosting” ingredients like fenugreek, flax and brewers yeast, but also providing you with nutrition and energy for the day ahead. Calories are important when breastfeeding and life is chaotic! We often forget things like breakfast or snacks when you are running between work and kids, and Mrs Milk bars are the perfect in between! They fill you up with all the right things and come in two flavours, the classic and the green apple and moringa (my favourite).
  • Lactation Cookies – I have also been munching my way through “Nursing Mama” cookies. The ULTIMATE pick me up treat 🙂 No more mid afternoon or late night choccies for me, because these lactation cookies curb every craving. They are super yummy and come in 3 flavours, coconut and almond (my favourite), peanut butter and chocolate as well as white chocolate and almond. There is even a range to help curb morning sickness.  I find some of the flavours a little sweet, but I love the fact that you can buy pre-mixes, because honestly, who has time to run around looking for ingredients like flax seed and brewers yeast? When I bake the pre-mixes I just add a little less chocolate or sugar in to suit my taste.
  • Hydration – Goes without saying. Water=Milk, in this case anyway. If you do not increase your hydration, you will not produce enough breastmilk. It’s that simple. So whether its herbal, nursing teas, or plain old water; drink drink drink!
  • Finally a crucial item you need to consider, and it just occurred to me whilst I was pumping in the car, is your clothing! So here’s a HUGE shout out to companies like Cherry Melon, Sophie and Jane as well as Mama Noo nursing, who make breastfeeding friendly underwear or clothes. There is a BIG difference in being able to pump or feed discretely when it comes to the clothes you wear. Cherry Melon has some fantastic feeding cami’s that unclip at the strap, I wear these under my work clothes everyday, which allows me to maintain a sense of dignity whilst pumping 🙂

Wherever you are in your breastfeeding journey, know that you aren’t alone. Its tough but it is manageable. Its also a very personal journey, so if you feel that the natural cycle has come to an end, that okay too. This post though is here to encourage you. You can do it, if you want to. There will be ups and downs and ebs and flows, but we have incredible support in this motherhood community, and if you feel you don’t have any, I am here for you!

Dear Mama – Because it all makes sense now

Dear Mama – Because it all makes sense now

Dear Mama,

I don’t quite know where to start. The day I became a mother was the day I could truly say I understood you. I understand the long days and tough nights, I understand you saying “Just try some” at every meal, I completely get the scrambled eggs for dinner on a Sunday night. At bedtime, when the boys wont stop wriggling, I remember you telling me to “stop wriggling and settle down”. I understand it all now.

You have never been one to conform. You certainly are not a conventional “Martha Stewart” mother, in fact quite the opposite. From what I can remember Dad did the bedtime stories and weekend cooking. Yet you are the perfect mother, to me.

You are a strong, free-spirited “Hippy” child. I’ve often thought that you always consider me to be a “bore”. The perfect example of a strong woman, you created an empire and had a passion and vision for what you did, you showed me that I can achieve anything! Through hard work and drive, I can do whatever I set my mind too. I remember as a child, I was often upset when you missed swimming galas or competitions, award ceremony’s or homework; wishing you could have been more like the mum’s who didn’t work in an office. Looking back, I hold none of it against you. You were a business woman, and thankfully, I never took it personally. You are the perfect example that as long as you have a passion, you can achieve anything. Growing up and seeing your ambition is what taught me to be strong and to not let every little thing life throws at me tear me down, but instead, build me up.

In my opinion, I had the perfect childhood. I grew up in the bush and either spent my afternoons swimming, playing some sort of ball sport, making forts under thorn trees and chasing snakes (yes you read that correctly). How I didn’t end up with any serious injuries is beyond me. Weekends were always spent at the Yacht Club, either sailing, swimming or paddle boarding. Thank you for not being a “Helicopter parent”, thank you for allowing me the freedom to explore and adventure.

As I grew older, you continued to give me freedom. Freedom to make my own mistakes and to learn. Thank you for always having trust in me. You and dad always treated me as an adult. You never gave me a “strict” curfew, you never stopped me from doing something I wanted to do. You trusted me, and I never had a reason to rebel. Your confidence pushed me to be the best that I could be. You gave me just enough freedom that I could explore and learn, but I always knew what was right and what was wrong.

When I had a meltdown because I wanted to go to boarding school (I know right?), I literally remember crying my eyes out because all my best friends were going, you held strong and said “I need you here”. When you forced me to take a gap year before university, even though I may not have wanted to at the time, you knew what was best. You always pushed me to explore, to travel, to adventure.

You are the “cool” mum. All our friends loved coming over and you loved entertaining.  I have the best memories of my birthday parties and all the amazing cakes you did. My love of events stems through your passion and expertise. You love a good party, and my social skills are certainly down to being your daughter. You believe that life is meant to be lived, and enjoyed, and everything should be enjoyed, in moderation of course!

While I was growing up we used to disagree a lot (we still do), on how life should be and what matters the most. Now that I’m a mother, I cannot tell you how grateful I am. For all the shopping trips to Woolworths, the grocery shopping and my endless nagging “Can I have this, can I have that”. The help you have gave me with the boys, straight after birth was invaluable. I couldn’t have done it without you. Yes you may not have been the best “night nanny” :), but You always looked out for ME, because without me being strong, the boys couldn’t be strong. You always put ME first. You’re also pretty darn good at singing babies to sleep.

I love you mama and you have been the best role model. I couldn’t be more thankful for all that you do, for all the little white lies you told to protect me, to protect my childhood, for all the times you pushed me out of my comfort zone. For all the times you simply didn’t ask questions, thank you for giving me the freedom to soar. Sometimes, I know I get busy, but you are so appreciated. Certainly I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it weren’t for you. So, thank you – for absolutely everything.

You’re my hero.

PS.. Dad dont worry, fathers day is coming soon 🙂 🙂

Returning to work after baby – tips to help you through

Returning to work after baby – tips to help you through

Returning to work…. Three simple words to send a feeling of dread down any new mothers spine … The cause of stress, anxiety and a few grey hairs I’m sure. We can all agree it’s a painful time. Mum guilt is real.

In South Africa we are not as blessed as our European colleagues who can get up to one full year off, though we are a great sight better off than moms in the USA, who typically receive NO paid maternity leave. But at 3 months old, You have just started to bond with your baby, your cute little cherub is actually starting to show some signs of personality and independence. You have just begun to learn your baba’s cues, yet suddenly you’re preparing to leave them with a caregiver of some sort. It’s completely understandable that’s it’s so stressful.

Coupled with the nerves of leaving your baby behind, you also have to deal with your position at work. Will things have changed? Did your colleagues manage your work load smoothly, or did they do it better than you perhaps?

Heres a little advice I can give, based on experience, to help you through.

This too shall pass. Actually, that may become one of my life’s motto’s. It gets easier with time.

Millions of women go back to work after maternity leave. Breathe. You can do this!

Remember that your entire world has just changed, you are dealing with a change in dynamics at home, sleep deprivation, it will take some time to get used to. Go easy on yourself.

Don’t be afraid to enjoy your own time – I can actually laugh when I say that when I went back to work with my eldest, I almost ran out of the front door that first morning. I was lucky though, I had a nanny that I trusted (and continue to trust) tremendously, and at the time, I had slightly flexible hours. I relished the fact that I could get a break from worrying about nap times and smelling of sick up. Being a SAHM is rough yoh!

Nurture your support system – It really does take a village. Make sure that you trust and respect your chosen caregiver, go with your gut and make sure you are comfortable. Ensure that your carer is comfortable with your expectations and has time to adjust to baba before hand. Make sure they know about correct dosages of Panado and signs to check in nappies.

Don’t be afraid to cry – Lets be honest, Mum guilt is VERY real! Remember though, you’re providing for your baby. You’re bringing home money that may better your child’s life. You’re are teaching your child that a woman can have a successful career outside of the home.

If you are breastfeeding don’t be shy about it – There are laws in place to protect you as a new mum. Find out from your HR department what rooms are private and available to use. I used to prop my chair up again the back of the door, because of course It didn’t lock 🙂  Car journeys are also surprisingly the best use of time for pumping. Aint nothing like a traffic jam on the way home with hard boobs 🙂 If you can invest in a great hands free kit, Medela offers a fantastic range and put your car journey to good use.

Stock up on supply – Again if you are breastfeeding you need to start at least a month in advance of building up your freezer supply. I started a bit too late and ended up working myself into a mess making sure baby had enough.

The anticipation is way worse than the reality – Its amazing how you will slip right back into the routine. While the time apart is difficult, it does make you cherish the time you do spend together.

I know from experience your baby wont “forget you”, you’ll see his/her little face light up the second you walk back in the room. Yes your baby may cry when you leave him in the morning, but it will stop, and then you’ll cry the day he doesn’t cry, but its OK, he’s comfortable. It gets easier. The time you do have is more precious and you learn to value quality. Don’t be afraid to find out if your company has flexible hours or family support. You’ll be surprised at how many South African companies are adopting a more global, adaptive structure.

If you have returned to work after baby, what tips helped you get through things?