Moms Balance Breastfeeding, Working Full-Time

Stephanie Grignon 
Stephanie Grignon and her son

Medical Experts Recommend Nursing Infants for One Full Year

Like many mothers, Stephanie Grignon wanted to get her children off to a healthy start in life and breast fed. Unlike most mothers, however, she didn’t stop when she returned to work or when her children started getting teeth or eating solids. Grignon kept at it and nursed her children through their whole first year of life – and beyond.

“Nursing and working full-time isn’t easy, but if you make it a priority, you can do it,” said Grignon, who is a nurse at Shawano Medical Center. “The health benefits for both baby and mother for nursing are huge and it’s essential to nurse as long as you can.”

During the week of August 1-7– which is World Breastfeeding Week – ThedaCare and ThedaCare Pediatrics is asking moms to share their success stories on their Facebook pages to encourage other moms to keep breastfeeding throughout the entire first year of life. “We want to provide moms with a place to connect and share what works for them,” said Mary Alexander, a nurse and lactation consultant at Shawano Medical Center.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends mothers breastfeed their children for at least 12 months and then after that as long as the mother and baby want it. Through their mother’s milk, babies receive essential nutrients and antibodies, Alexander said.

“Breast milk is perfectly designed to support the baby’s immune and digestive systems, leading to fewer ear and respiratory infections,” she said. “Breastfeeding can also protect the baby from developing chronic health conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

But as many moms return to work, they stop breastfeeding for multiple reasons, such as the hassles associated with pumping. Employers, however, are required by law to provide a clean space for moms to pump their milk as well as necessary time needed. In addition, the Affordable Care Act expanded benefits for breastfeeding babies by requiring insurance plans to cover breastfeeding support services, including lactation consultant visits and breastfeeding supplies, including breast pumps.

Jessica Martens, the mom of a 4-year-old and 1-year-old, nursed her children for 10 months and said staying on a schedule is essential to make nursing and holding down a full-time job work. “Don’t stress out about taking the time off from work to pump; just do it every three hours. Trust me, your work will be there when you get back to your desk,” she said.

Martens, who is 34 and produced enough milk while nursing to donate some for premature infants to use, focused on the benefits breast milk was providing her children to make sure she took the time necessary at work to pump.

“You do get busy and it’s not as easy as when you are with your child all day and are nursing on their feeding schedule,” said Martens, who works at a Shawano bank. “I just focus on the health benefits my children are getting for having breast milk. I think my son gets sick a lot less than his daycare buddies who were formula fed.”

The 30-year-old Grignon has two children ­–  a 6-year-old son who she nursed for 14 months and a 13-month-old son who she continues to nurse. She is expecting her third child on Dec. 30. “You can nurse while being pregnant and it has actually made me healthier since I’m thinking more about what I’m eating now since I’m nursing than I did with my other two pregnancies,” Grignon said.

Many working moms don’t like to talk about nursing while on the job, but it’s something that can be successfully done, Grignon said. “You just have to speak up for what you need” regarding time and space, she said. “I’ll admit it’s not easy to keep nursing, especially as your baby gets older because there seems to be such a stigma surrounding it. I don’t worry though about what other people are thinking. I’m just focused on the nutritional value that I’m providing my child.”

Alexander said studies have shown that moms who breastfeed miss less work than mothers who don’t since their children tend to be healthier. Studies also show nursing moms also reap multiple benefits, including lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and postpartum depression.

“Breastfeeding hormones help mothers feel calm and connected with their babies.  It also increases your metabolism which can help you lose weight faster,” Alexander said. “Breastfeeding can save you money and make your life easier as you do not need to buy, measure and mix formula.”

Shawano Medical Center is a nonprofit hospital in Shawano. It serves 35,000 people in Shawano, Menominee, and surrounding counties. Shawano Medical Center includes a critical-access (25-bed) hospital.

ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of five hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, and ThedaCare at Home. ThedaCare is the largest employer in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.