One of the breastfeeding topics that is important to me is how to handle the delicate balancing act that is breastfeeding while working full time. This is something I struggled with last time and am determined to tackle this time around.
The first couple chapters are focused on what it means to be a working mom. Let’s face it, most of our offices are still dominated by men. A woman is rewarded at work by being as man-like as possible: there is an underlying “societal pressure to surrender or minimize motherhood.” Women in the office are taken (or perceived to be taken?) more seriously when we discount our roles as mothers, accept the long hours and over-commitments to our outside-the-home work and generally live two completely separate lives. Why? Is it not possible to succeed in the corporate world as both a woman and a mother? Is it not possible to schedule your pumping time and your going-home time as you would schedule a project review or staff meeting? I could go on about this for awhile, but the book does move on and so shall I.
What I appreciated about this book is not only the commentary about working mothers but also some breastfeeding science that can help with pumping success. For example, milk is most plentiful in the mornings. Being the analytical and scheduled person that I am, without this knowledge I would pump every 2.5 hours exactly. Now I know that maybe I should pump once at 9, at 11 and then at 2 before leaving at 4 to breastfeed at home.
Ms. Pryor gives this schedule to follow, which of course is a bit different for everyone. I will leave my baby at home with Mr. Handsome and drive 45 minutes to work, so I’ll probably pump three times at work rather than two. But I appreciate a broken-down baseline from which I can build my own plan.
There are lots of basic how-tos in the book as well. How to get started breastfeeding just after birth, troubleshoot problems like blocked ducts or mastitis, how to form a plan for returning to work (find a daycare, a place to pump at work, legal rights to pump at work, etc), the best breast pump features, storing milk and combating fatigue (relax while you’re feeding, skip unnecessary housework, trade something like cable tv for an occasional “maid cleaning).
The only thing I didn’t really like about this book is that not enough credit is given to the dads/partners. I realize that I am extremely, extremely, spoiled in that I have a husband that probably does three times the housework I do, stays home with the kids (two kids!) AND works a few nights a week at the restaurant. Not everyone has a partner who not only chips in but basically handles everything. Ms. Pryor seems to lump all partners into the typical “man role” of being the guy who needs to be constantly nagged in order to get him to simply put the seat down or pick up his underwear. Since she focuses so much on how working women are stereotyped, I find it odd that she turns around and does the same thing to working men.
All in all, though, this is a great book. If I had to pick just one book about breastfeeding, this would be it. Of course that’s because I need the emphasis on returning to work, but all the basic stuff is covered too. The parts about mothering in the workplace really sparked my inner feminist and made me think. I’m sure I’ll be picking this one up again as my maternity leave draws to a close.
Next Review: On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo, MA and Robert Bucknam, MD