Hi my name is Kerry, I’m the peer support lead at BOOBS. I have two children who I breastfed up until the age of 19 months and 17 months. The challenges of complementary feeding them and preparing them for when I returned to work caused a lot of anguish for me during the months of build up.
My eldest would not take a bottle of expressed milk, I didn’t produce a lot when expressing and I found it very time intensive.
I felt lucky that my work place was very near the nursery my babies went to which was worth the pricey cost.
I returned to work when my eldest was 10 months old and she found it hard to settle into a nursery so the ability for me to go to her on my break and feed her was wonderful. She would fall asleep on me then I would try to hand her over to nursery staff without waking her.
Work was generally accommodating, I worked as an IVF nurse at the time and was given office work when I first returned to give me more flexibility than being in theatre or on a ward.
Occasionally the nursery would ring me if she was really upset and wouldn’t settle for them and I would be able to go and breastfeed her.
My eldest adjusted within a few weeks and then we would have a breastfeed at the nursery before I left her, then straight after work and sometimes even half way home!
We would feed on and off through the evening and night and then I woke early so I could get ready for work before she woke up so I could then focus on getting her ready and us both out of the door.
I didn’t know at the time but I had conceived my second child and it’s likely that my milk supply dropped because of the hormone changes as well as my eldest not feeding as much in the day. So when she was breastfeeding she became very fussy and was cluster feeding when she had time with me in the evenings and overnight.
Eventually working and breastfeeding throughout the night got too exhausting for me so after using a number of different soothing techniques in the night she was weaned off breastfeeding.
She still woke in the night until she was 5 years old but then her daddy would do some of the night settling, night weaning certainly doesn’t mean more sleep!
My first journey had taught me a lot and I had all the breastfeeding experience, understanding and had built up my mental preparedness and also got to see and enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding as well.
So along came my second daughter who was a breeze to breastfeed in comparison to my challenging first breastfeeding journey with my tongue tied eldest.
On my second return to work the manager arranged for me to be able to use the nursing room in the maternity unit not far from my work and I went there a few times. We had discussed this at a return to work meeting and I had prepared myself by reading up on my rights and knew that my workplace should accommodate me to still breastfeed even though it wasn’t a legal obligation.
My youngest would take a cup with expressed milk in, unlike my eldest, but I didn’t return to work until she was over 1 year so it was even easier as she was on blue top cows milk as well.
I had the same pattern of how I fed my first daughter at the nursery, although I felt much more confident the second time. There was a book corner and I had snacks to keep my eldest entertained whilst I breastfed her baby sister before driving home.
Overall the transition to work was easier the second time round and my youngest naturally weaned herself at 17 months whereas I think my eldest would have gone on longer had I not decided to lead on weaning her.