“As soon as I return home my daughter gets so excited for a feed and my milk supply comes flowing back!”
The theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2023 is ‘Enabling Breastfeeding: Making a Difference for Working Parents’. Challenges in the workplace contribute significantly to women never breastfeeding or ending their breastfeeding journey earlier than is recommended or they had hoped. It is therefore crucial that women are provided with adequate time and support to breastfeed, with maternity leave and breastfeeding facilities being organised to meet the needs of breastfeeding women.
We know that working life looks very different for each women who returns to work while breastfeeding. We would like to share with you Rachael’s story. Rachael has worked as a long haul airline stewardess for 9 and a half years. She gave birth to her beautiful daughter in July of 2021. Rachael’s story addresses the common concerns women have when returning to work – namely around how their little one will adapt, particularly if they are not keen on taking milk from anything other than the source! Thank you to Rachael for sharing your story with us and well done on your incredible journey so far.
My return to work was scheduled for October 2022 and by this point my daughter was 15 months old. I returned to work on a part time basis, which in my case involved working three weeks on followed by one week off, with several days off between my working block. I exclusively breastfed my daughter and she had never been given expressed milk. This made me a nervous wreck, worrying about returning to a job where I would be in another country and unable to feed my daughter for days at a time!
Just before I returned to work, she was sleeping through the night but was still feeding around four or five times a day. She just was not interested in taking my milk from a bottle, meaning expressing milk for her was not an option. This meant so she quickly had to adapt to being without both me and my boobs! To help make things easier, I requested trips that were only 3-4 days long, avoiding anything longer as I was having to rely on expressing to maintain my milk supply while I was away from her. My daughter was in childcare with my partner and grandparents or at nursery whilst I was away on layovers. This meant that she quickly learnt that whilst mummy was away there was no ‘boobie milk’ and at my request, her caregivers encouraged her to drink full fat cows milk from a cup.
My daughter turns two on the 30th July 2023 and we are are still breastfeeding around 3 times a day! It absolutely blows my mind that we have managed to continue feeding whilst I carry on doing my job, flying long haul around the world! My milk supply regulates itself, meaning when I am away I no longer get engorged but just have to express once or twice a day (sometimes at 3am, 38,000ft somewhere over the Atlantic – oh, the glamour!). As soon as I return home my daughter gets so excited for a feed and my milk supply comes flowing back. The female body is truly amazing!
I have no idea when we will stop, but for now we both still love it and its a beautiful way for us to strengthen our bond when I have been away with work.