By Dominique Graham
Skye Canuto was excited when she noticed her breastmilk supply did not change after returning to work. She is a first-time mom of 4-month-old, Summer. In this interview, Skye shares her tips on making a smooth transition back to work as a breastfeeding mom.
So Skye, how did you prepare to go back to work?
I knew I wanted to continue breastfeeding Summer. Before going back to work, I asked my boss if I could have a space so that I could pump twice a day.
What did your boss say?
He was really okay with it and made sure to give me a space and the allotted time to pump.
Where do you pump when you are at work?
I go into an office and I have a sign that says, “Do Not Enter.”
That’s great that you have a supportive boss. How did you know you needed to pump twice a day?
I thought about how many times I fed Summer during the day. I would feed her before I left in the morning. After three hours I would pump at work. I was able to get 4 ounces from each boob.
How did you know that 8 ounces was enough milk for Summer?
I was trying to pump while I was home on maternity leave, but it was really hard keeping up with the pump schedule while trying to care for the baby. So I stopped that. I just thought about how often I fed her and when she would go down for a nap. That helped me to figure out when I should pump and how many times.
So you were more focused on how many times you fed her, versus how much she drinks?
It was more just me trying to figure out how many times she ate. Because sometimes she drinks more, sometimes she drinks less. And now that she is eating baby food twice a day, I knew that would cut into some of her bottle. So as long as I pump twice a day, I believe it will be enough for her. And then, when I get home, she is usually ready to eat again.
So you only pump at work?
Yes. I don’t pump at home unless I get engorged. Other than that, I only pump at work.
How is bringing a pump to work? Do you have to bring it every day? Do you keep it there? Where do you store it? Where do you put your milk?
I pack a little lunch bag with two ice packs so that I can keep the milk cold until I get home. I like to take my pump home everyday, because I really like to clean it and make sure I am properly caring for it. I don’t want any bacteria or anything else to set in.
What model do you have and how did you get one?
I have a Lansinoh and I got it through my health insurance.
Is it a hands-free pump?
I have a hands-free one and a bra pump. I also have a hand pump, because sometimes when she is nursing, the other breast will leak at least an ounce. I try to keep that pump on me, so that when it does leak, I am catching it and not wasting any milk.
So I know you have a partner. I’m sure your your new pumping regimen affects your partnership?
Yes, my partner is a male. We’ve talked and I told him I have to do this because I really want to breastfeed my daughter for a year. He’s cool. He respects it. He drops me off at the office and gives me my 30 to 35 minutes. And then we go back out. After 3 hours, we drive back to the office for another session.
That is so cool that you have a supportive co-worker. So it’s kinda like he has a baby too!
Basically! We are in this together.
You mentioned you want to breastfeed for a year. Since Summer is almost 5 months, how do you feel about pumping at work for 7 more months?
I know it’s going to be hard, because it’s very regimented. You have to keep a good schedule and sometimes my job can be unpredictable. But I’m really trying hard to continue breastfeeding for a year.
Before our interview you also mentioned breastfeeding after returning to work is easier than you thought. What’s easy about it?
Having our family care for her, makes going back to work a lot easier.
It does always help to have a supportive family. Thank you for sharing your story with us, I’m sure it will help other moms preparing to go back to work. Do you have any other advice for new moms?
Take everything day by day and if one thing doesn’t work — try something else. Don’t put too much stress on yourself. Don’t take this too serious, because no one has the perfect way for raising a kid. It’s all about trial and error.
I’m going to cry. That’s perfect!
One more thing I forgot to add. Depending on your job, ask other moms who have the same kind of career as you, especially if they’ve done it before you. Sometimes they might have a technique, a trick or something that could help.
What have your co-workers suggested?
One of my co-workers suggested staying on a schedule by any means necessary. If you have to carry an electric pump with you in your [police] cruiser.
And if you have to sit in one of the tinted cars with your hand pump.
Make sure you stick to your schedule!
Thank you Skye for those encouraging words. I’m happy that your breastfeeding journey has been going smoothly. We look forward to a one year update.
About the interviewer:
Dominique is a Boston resident, a breastfeeding journalist and blogger behind DommiesBlessed.
Josselyne Noyes joined the Codman Square Baby Cafe when her oldest son was a mere two months old. She said the group was very helpful in her breastfeeding journey in allowing her to meet other mothers. She is currently pregnant and still walks to the Codman Square Baby Café with her now three year old son and one year old daughter.
Daily Milk hosts articles, posts and ideas from various members of our breastfeeding coalition!