A WORKING MOM RAISING FOUR CHILDREN SHARES HER BREASTFEEDING JOURNEY
Tracy Brock gives us a glimpse into her busy life working full time as a trader and raising four children. She candidly discusses so many of the issues nursing moms face- pumping at work, feelings of guilt, what to wear...
1) Tells us a bit about yourself.
I have four kids, they are ages 7, 5, 3 and 1 month. My husband and I live in Charlotte, North Carolina where we’ve been for about 15 years and I have worked in banking that whole time. I started working at Wachovia and now it’s Wells Fargo. I’m a trader working on the trading floor. It’s a very busy life with both my husband and I working full time plus having 4 kids!
2) Tell me about your breastfeeding experience with your four children.
I’m on child number four now. My first three I nursed for just over a year. I had maternity leave where I exclusively nursed and then I went back to work and I pumped 3 times a day for over 9 months to make it to a year with each one. With my first child, it was challenging at the beginning. I thought there was no way I was going to be able to get off the desk 3 times a day at the same time each day. But you just make yourself do it. You build it into your schedule. You get better at it. You get faster. You learn what clothes to wear so that it’s easier. I don’t wear a lot of dresses to work anymore unless they have a zipper. The first time I tried wearing a dress I found myself sitting in my underwear in the mothers room and being cold! So you definitely have to think about what to wear to make pumping more comfortable, so that it’s easy, quick and as painless as possible.
I would say it is very different nursing a newborn and a one year old. Even though I’ve done it several times with each kid you have to retrain yourself. Nursing can be hard at the beginning, it takes a couple of weeks for your body to get used to it. I guess after going through it with my first child I knew I could do it. So I had that confidence to be able to do it with all my other babies. Hopefully, with my fourth child, we’ll be able to go for a year.
3) Any challenges with nursing/pumping?
When I first went back to work after my third child, we hadn’t done enough bottles with her and so for the first two weeks of me going back to work I did half days - she refused to take a bottle while I was away so she waited for me to get home. It was terrible. I would rush home and we would nurse right away. Thankfully, after a couple of weeks she adjusted. It was a terrible experience though and we’re not going to let that happen with my fourth.
It’s hard because after pumping so much you get tired of doing it. Now I’m at home during maternity leave and it’s easy to exclusively nurse and not worry about pumping but you really do have to start pumping and introducing the bottle after about a month and then kind of keep it up with some consistency so they don’t forget the bottle. You have to keep up the nursing too. So that was the one big mistake we made with the third child.
Another issue I had was clogged milk ducts, which is pretty painful. You just have to stay on top of it. My advice would be to nurse as often as possible and massage the area and try to break it up. Use a warm compress before you nurse or pump. It just takes time to work it out. Just continue pumping and nursing to get through, it can be painful for sure.
4) What about getting off the desk on a predominately male trading floor to pump?
It almost made it easier to work with mostly men because they were like ok, go do your thing, I don’t need to hear about it. It is nice that Wells Fargo provides a mothers room so it’s on my same floor and it’s easy for me to get to. I’ve definitely heard stories of mothers having to pump on the toilet. I had a pretty nice setup so it was easy for me to quickly get away. It did make it easier that my boss is married and he started having children shortly after me so I think that helps as well. If you’re around other parents they understand because they see their wives going through it as well. They’re definitely more understanding.
Pumping at work is definitely time consuming but you then learn to cut out other breaks. Maybe you’re then not taking as long on a lunch walk for example. Or you bring your lunch to work instead of going out to get it.
5) You mentioned clothing being an issue. What kind of issues did you have and what were your go-to styles?
I wore a lot of two piece outfits like shirts with skirts or trousers. Definitely something easy that you could unbutton and if you could still keep it on your shoulders that was a bonus. I would always have some kind of blazer or sweater with me because otherwise it can get cold sitting in the mothers room with your top off. With dresses if you have a zipper on your dress, that’s great because you can just unzip and not take the whole dress off. Blazers for sure because you’re in an office building...there are hundreds of people on the trading floor but then when you’re in a room by yourself it can get cold!
6) What would you recommend to other moms to feel like themselves again after they have a baby?
First thing would be exercise. As soon as you can go, take walks and get back into your routine of exercising. Take it slow in the beginning. Be very easy on yourself. You don’t have to push yourself hard, but every little bit helps to get the endorphins flowing. It also helps you fit into your clothes a little bit sooner! When you have a baby it changes you, it changes your life.
As mothers, we have to spend a lot of time with our babies as they’re so dependent on us. But it doesn’t last forever, so it’s ok. They grow up so quickly, so I think just try to enjoy every moment that you can. They’re all special moments and just be thankful for the time. They’re going to grow up and not want to be around you soon enough. Just try to count your blessings and be thankful.
7) Any other advice to moms?
Breastfeeding is a personal choice. I think if it’s something you really want to do, just stick with it. It’s tough at the beginning but you’ll get through it. Know that you’re a strong person and can do it. It gets easier and shouldn’t be painful. Nursing is such a great bonding experience.
Going to work and then coming home and being able to nurse really helped me with my guilt over going back to work. At the same time when you have older kids it’s also very important because you’re spending so much time with the baby you need to also try to spend some one-on-one time with each of your kids and that definitely gets harder to do when you have more kids. But I think that it really helps them to know that they are loved by you and special. That’s something I’m trying to do more of now.
Thanks for sharing Tracy! xoxo, Teat & Cosset