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Thread: Not going so well...Help!

  1. #1

    Default Not going so well...Help!

    I am an EPer, and I returned to work a little over a week ago after ten weeks off with my LO. I maintained a regular pumping schedule at home, but since returning to work it has been extremely difficult for me to take the time to pump regularly there. As a result, my supply has dropped significantly (35-38 oz/day to 22-25 oz/day). When I'm at work, I get so busy that I just can't stop and pump when I should. I am an RN on a busy cardiac floor, so I cannot just say "OK I'm going to pump at ten, one, and four". I get to pump when things settle down and my patients are set with their meds/treatments, and that never occurs at a fixed time! I've already gotten mastitis once! I just don't know what to do. Also, it generally takes me at least 20 minutes to pump and sometimes longer - this means more time away from my patients and responsibilities. While I would like to say I am glad for the time away, I am so stressed out from the day and hurrying to get back that I think the stress contributes along with the infrequent pumpings as a cause for the decrease in output. I work 12 hour shifts - so at the minimum I know I should pump at least 3 times, but generally it is only two and sometimes I can only manage one pump break! I have an hour drive so I utilize that time to pump as well. If I try to make up for it and pump every two hours when I'm at home to boost supply, I'm afraid I will inadvertently cause myself painful engorgement at work because I can't get to the pump every two hours. So now I'm trying to pump every 4-6 hours at home. I'm finding I do get more milk at home. So...my question finally is...how can I make myself relax and take time for myself at work without feeling guilty? I really do care about my patients and value my hard-earned license, so how can I be a good nurse and also be a good mom by providing my breastmilk to my baby?

    Sorry for such a long post, but I'm so stressed I had to let it out!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Not going so well...Help!

    Mama, it must be so hard to combine your two demanding jobs. I can completely understand how hard it would be to take care away from your patients in order to pump- it's not like someone with a heart attack can wait for you to pump. My Mom had some A-fib a while ago and I am very glad that her nurses put her first.

    Can you talk to your supervisor about this? Is there maybe a co-worker who can be on-call to help you make a pumping schedule happen? It's not forever- it's just until your baby weans. And if you're out with mastitis then everyone loses.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Not going so well...Help!

    I totally hear ya! I am a nurse on a very busy cardiac floor, also. I definately know what you mean when you say you can't always pump at scheduled times. Do you have a place to pump at work? Are your coworkers supportive? I think that's the one thing that has made it possible for me! I have two coworkers who are very good to me, having been breastfeeding mothers themselves. They keep an eye on me and offer to "watch my lights" while I pump. I currently have a nearly 4 month old daughter. I went back to work when she was 7 weeks old. I also work 12 hours shifts and live an hour from work. So, I leave my house at 6am and return at 8:30pm.

    Here is my general "schedule"- I feed Avery at about 5am. I get ready for work, feed my dogs, etc. Then, at about 5:40 or so, I pump. I leave at 6am. I get to work at 7am and take report. I do all of my "morning stuff"- vitals, assessments, medications. Then, usually around 10am, I pump. After that, I check my charts, noting orders, etc. I do wound cares and treatments. I put my AM tele strips in. Then, around 12pm, I have lunch. After lunch, I again check my charts for orders. Usually this is the time when discharge orders start coming. I do my Q4hr vitals and assessments. I guage the rest of my day based on my patients. Usually, I pump the second time between 1pm and 2pm. Then, I get patient's discharged, etc. I do my next set of vitals and assessments. I put my PM tele strips in. I give my afternoon meds. My third pumping session is usually around 6pm, once everything is "done" for the day.

    That is what would happen in a perfect world. We both know that it generally doesn't happen that way. However, although I do care about my patients, I also am very concerned that my daughter be able to recieve the benefits of breastmilk. I am not okay with using formula. Just me... So, I do my best to pump. I have learned to pump when I need to pump. I always ask myself what things can wait until after pumping- and really, most things are really no different if done now or 20 minutes from now.

    As far as encouraging yourself to relax while pumping- I always bring pictures of my baby to look at while pumping. I feel like this helps me focus on her and kind of forget about the rest of the things I need to do. I also have the luxury of being able to call my husband and listen to her "talk" on the other end of the phone. Both of these things help me to relax and speed the letdown process, making pumping not take as long.

    The guilt is different- I don't feel guilty at all when I take breaks to pump. Think about your coworkers who smoke. Do you think they feel guilty when they leave their patients to smoke? And at least when you take a break to pump, you're doing something good- the best thing you can do for your baby, really!

    All I can say is, communicate with your coworkers, communicate with your patients- it really helps. I'm not sure I've helped out at all! Good luck... Your baby appreciates it!
    ~Jaden Mae 04-05-06~
    --Self-weaned at 21 months--
    ~Avery Lynne 11-27-08~
    --Self-weaned at 23 months--
    ~Elise June 02-12-11~
    --Nursing like a champ--

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Pacific Northwest

    Default Re: Not going so well...Help!

    I found myself doing the same thing - not pumping enough at work and working a longer shift (10 hrs).

    I think part of it for me was wanting to show that being a mom was not going to make me a less productive employee. Plus, I mainly worked with guys in a more "physical labor" job who I wasn't convinced would be fully supportive. Eventually, I learned that they were supportive and I pumped when I needed to.

    My other challenge was that we work outside. If the weather was nasty, pumping was not much fun. Sometimes I would wait too long - like near the end of the workday when I was back in the truck headed to the office.

    In the long run, my pumping at work became an ordinary part of our workday. I would usually head back to the truck 15-20 minutes before the rest of the crew, so I could pump. Within a couple months, the crew would just pile in the truck even if I wasn't done - they didn't care and neither did I . I was just part of what we do.

    Finding the time - its more like demanding the time. Nursing moms need to pump. You didn't say how supportive you employer is. Even if you can't drain them, pumping for 5 minutes will be better than not pumping at all.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Default Re: Not going so well...Help!

    Another mom who's working in direct patient care in a busy hospital here -- it can be really tough when your days are unpredictable. I totally agree with all the suggestions other posters have. I bring my ipod and listen to music as I pump; that helps me "check out" of my role as a care provider and check into the job of making milk for my LO. Also, on some days I pump early in my shift, because I have time then, and I'm not sure if I'll have time later. Does your hospital have a hospital grade pump they let you use? That'll make the most of your time. I was very nervous about taking the time out to pump. I know how busy nurses can be, especially on acute cardiac floors, but most days it's possible to make the conscious decision to say, I will devote myself to my patients 100%, except for the times I'm pumping. Find a nurse to help, who's been there. You can do it!!

    DS Ethan 12/16/2008
    Breast fed/pumped 11 months as a surgical resident, 80 hours a week at work
    DS Abram Daniel 12/20/2012
    Feel like we've gotten a strong start

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009

    Default Re: Not going so well...Help!

    I am glad you asked this question. I have a 7.5 week old at home, and I am a busy ER nurse. I go back to work when she is 10.5 weeks, so I am getting close. I have been somewhat worried about finding time to pump, and then not producing enough milk for her if I don't have time. I don't want early weaning. I also only work 8hr shifts, and only work .7, so not full time. I am hoping that will help. I guess we will have to rely on our co-workers, and they should be understanding as most healthcare workers know breast milk is best. I am sure I will be on here a lot asking for support and advice once I get back to work. Good luck.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Not going so well...Help!

    Just wanted to thank you all for your encouraging replies! My workplace is very supportive - and I do have coworkers that have been in my shoes before, so that does help. I think it's more a matter of me telling myself that I can put some things off until later, rather than trying to accomplish all my duties before taking a break. And you're right, marcielynne, smokers are always taking breaks I'm sure they're not bothered by being away from the unit. I will start taking better care of myself at work and not letting myself get too stressed - for my baby's sake and also my own! It's good to know I'm not alone in this.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Not going so well...Help!

    Kudos to you moms who have such busy jobs and are still pumping, it is such wonderful encouragement! Makes me think I can last a year or more

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