When I got pregnant with my first child, I was living in England (that’s a long story) and had a full time job that I loved.
The law in the United Kingdom states that new mothers are allowed to have up to a year off work, with at least six weeks fully paid and nine months partially paid. What a difference to the maternity leave policies back home in the States!
I spent ten months at home with little James before returning to work. I had serious difficulties during the first weeks of breastfeeding, including a few bouts of mastitis and even an abscess. James didn’t weigh enough, and each week I took him in to be weighed, petrified that he would continue that trend and the nurse would instruct me to start using formula. Finally, the pain and mastitis stopped and he started gaining weight normally.
Once I got past those first few weeks of pain and adjustment, I loved breastfeeding him and the generous maternity leave meant that I was able to breastfeed until I returned to work. Baby Jasper soon followed, and again, I spent nearly a year at home with him before going back to work. Once I got back into the swing of breastfeeding, I loved it.
More change was to follow. With two little boys, my husband and I decided that it would be best to be closer to our families – so we moved back to the U.S. Shortly afterward, baby Andrew was on the way!
This time, there was a difficulty. Although I was working for the same company, we were no longer in the U.K., and couldn’t benefit from the generous amount of maternity leave. My American job offered me what they considered a generous package – eight weeks of full pay. In the U.S., this goes beyond the standard maternity leave – but to a third-time mother who was used to taking a year off of work to be with her newborn, the terms were devastating.
I didn’t see how this could work. I knew from the experience of my friends that once a baby started using a bottle, it was likely that he would begin to refuse the breast. Ceasing to breastfeed at that point would mean that I would have to go through the painful initial weeks only to miss the very best – that is, the bonding time of breastfeeding.
I didn’t want to give up my job, so I had to find a way to keep baby boy interested in my breast at night while using a bottle during the day.
Friends recommended mimijumi, which I learned was developed by doctors and lactation consultants to solve this very problem. I was skeptical, but we introduced it to baby Andrew when he was about six weeks old, and he loved it. I admit I was even a bit jealous to see that he seemed to enjoy his daily bottle feeds as much as his nightly feeds with me!
I am so thrilled that my third baby was breastfed just as long as his brothers were – and that I got to savor my last nights and mornings of breastfeeding.
To new mothers, I have a bit of advice: it gets better. Although the initial weeks of breastfeeding may be painful, it does get so much more rewarding. And second, until the U.S. establishes more generous amounts of maternity leave for new mothers, we need all the help we can get. A bottle like mimijumi can allow you to savor these best months of breastfeeding, even if you are working full time.