REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS FROM ONE CAREER WOMAN
Working moms have to make decisions about so much. Whether it’s to exclusively breastfeed, when to return to work, or what kind of childcare is right for their family.
New mom and seasoned career woman Dana talks to us about motherhood, breastfeeding and making plans with a flexible and open mind while not putting too much pressure on oneself.
1) You've worked at for International retail companies, a major Accounting Firm and now at as a VP of Operational Excellence for a major credit card Company. What's your plan for managing your career and daughter once you have to go back to work?
My career is an important part of who I am but I feel like becoming a mom has just added a new and different dimension. Prior to having Kaia, I was indifferent to breastfeeding and didn't really put a lot of pressure on myself about it - I thought I would try it and if it worked great, if not, we'd use formula. I was really lucky because Kaia latched well immediately, my milk supply came in within a few days and despite common breastfeeding issues, I really enjoy it. My current plan is to breastfeed for as long as I can and while it makes sense, so I will pump when I return to work but am not putting pressure on myself with respect to a specific end date.
My company is very supportive of working mothers and provides lactation rooms and other resources for mothers who choose to pump at work. As of this year, they also partner with a service to ship breast milk home for lactating mothers on business travel. As far as child care, my husband and I both decided we'd go the daycare route so Kaia will be starting daycare full-time when I return to work. The one thing I've come to accept or lean in to with having a kid is that things change and that I have to be more flexible about altering my "well laid" plans. So this is our plan, but I reserve the right to change it if it no longer works for us. :-)
2) You mentioned your Company recently changed their maternity policy while you were out from 3 months to 6 months, but you may go back earlier than the allotted 6 months.
Can you tell us why?
After our conversation, I spoke with several peers and mentors , men and women, both inside and outside of my company. Following those discussions, I've decided to take advantage of the updated parental leave policy which will put my total leave at 28 weeks (8 weeks of FMLA and 20 weeks of Parental Leave). It was initially a very difficult decision for me to think through but I am at peace with this decision and am really focusing on enjoying the additional time I get to spend with my Kaia at this stage of her life.
3) You graduated from Business School in 2006. If you had to write a business plan for a startup related to having a baby/being a mother what would it be?
Tough question! I need to give this some more thought but the one thing I'd say is that there is no one way to be a mother or mother your child. Different things work for different mothers and babies at different times, so I try not to get too caught up when following any one method or guidance to the T.
With respect to starting any company, the appropriate research and due diligence is always critical. I’d also recommend identifying an unmet need as there are a variety of businesses for mothers.
4) You worked for international retail companies for many years . What do you think Teat & Cosset offers that is different from other clothing brands?
I would say combining style with functionality. Of course, I am new to the world of nursing clothing but as a new mom who is currently still at home, my current wardrobe is 100% functional with nursing ease and access being the #1 priority.
Although I have not yet returned to work, now that Kaia is older and I am able to do a larger variety of activities, I do have a need for clothing that marries function with fashion. I'd like to be able to nurse but not look like I'm wearing nursing clothing. Blending those two effortlessly is Teat & Cosset's differentiating factor.
5) Tell us a bit about your breastfeeding experience with Kaia so far.
As I mentioned above, I was indifferent about breastfeeding and didn't want to put too much pressure on myself one way or the other prior to having her. I would say that I was surprised that Kaia latched so well in the hospital and that my milk came in within 3 days after having had a C-Section. I had heard so many horror stories that I was honestly expecting the worst. Despite this, I did have many of the challenges a lot of people face like engorgement, clogged ducts, some pain, etc. but now that I'm in month 3, things seem to be going well.
I'm surprised by how much I enjoy the bonding time with Kaia while breastfeeding. It wasn't until I experienced it myself that I fully understood how breastfeeding can strengthen an already innate bond.
6) What have you done to take care of yourself and feel like yourself again after Kaia's birth?
Very early after Kaia's birth, my husband encouraged me to get out of the house alone, even if just once a week, to take a walk or get my nails or hair done. At first, I was terrified to leave her for more than a short period of time and wouldn't go further than walking distance from my house, but I gradually got more comfortable with further distances and longer periods of time. I also try to do dinner with my girlfriends a few times a month where I can wear "normal" clothes and talk to other adults. I am always happy to come back home and see Kaia but those few hours a month definitely make me feel like my old self.
Exercise has also always been my "me" time and whitespace so returning to my previous routine, once cleared by my doctor, has also really helped me to feel like myself again. In the beginning, I would never be gone long enough to not be able to feed her, but now that I've been pumping and have a freezer supply, I am happy that my husband is able to feed her while I'm away. It also gives him the opportunity to spend 1-on-1 time with her which I think is important.
7) What's been the most challenging thing for you as a new mom? Any advice you would give to other expecting or new moms?
The most challenging part, by and large, was the lack of sleep initially. Challenging doesn't even begin to describe the early days when she was only sleeping 2 hours at a time. I was lucky enough to have the support of my husband as well as my mother and mother-in-law who alternated staying with us for 5 weeks after we got home from the hospital. Having their help enabled me to nap, shower, eat and have the best version of normal available under the circumstances. So my advice to expecting and new moms would be to take whatever help you can get or have available to you and don't try to go it alone! The sleep deprivation is real!
Thanks so much for sharing Dana! xoxo, Teat & Cosset