*We've partnered with Teat & Cosset to make the back to work transition a little bit easier for breastfeeding moms. Shop now for 20% off + Free Shipping using code WELLROUNDED.
Freelance work has a lot of perks for a new mom, but pumping breast milk is not necessarily one of them. At least that's what wardrobe stylist, fashion blogger and new mom Liz Teich has found. In between styling glam photoshoots for big brands whose advertisements you'd probably recognize all over town, Liz often pumps in a dirty bathroom, a dressing room or makeshift changing space. But it's worth it, she says, to keep providing breast milk for her 6-month-old son Asher.
We know there's so many women out there like Liz, with non-traditional jobs that require some creative thinking when it comes to breastfeeding or pumping. So we're partnering with Teat & Cosset, one of the most beautiful nursing-friendly fashion brands out there, to celebrate those moms…and all the others out there that are committed to pumping when they return to work.
Below, Liz shares some of her pumping and working strategies, while showing off her Teat & Cosset style.
Are you a pumping mom? Show us where you pump on Instagram for a chance to win an item from Teat & Cosset! Use the hashtag #thisiswhereipump and tag @wellroundedny!
What was your perception of breastfeeding before you had a baby?
Right before I had my baby, the show Girls premiered their final episode where the final scene was the main character struggling with breastfeeding. She couldn't get her baby to latch and it terrified me. But I wanted to do it anyway, if I could. I was fed exclusively formula as a baby and I always thought it was the main reason I had recurring ear infections and got sick all of the time. My husband was breastfed and never got sick. Who knows? It was also a great way to bond with my baby and was important to me for that reason just as much.
Tell me about the first few weeks feeding your baby.
My doula was a certified lactation consultant, so she helped Asher latch as soon as he was born. I was in disbelief that it could “click" like that, so I asked every nurse if I was doing it correctly. I got amazing tips that helped it go even smoother.
Still, it was pretty uncomfortable in the beginning. I had a heavy let-down and an oversupply. It was rough for me, but my guy is such an eater that I couldn't help but want to keep going with it. My sister, who's a mom of three, summed it up perfectly: breastfeeding is the most unnatural natural thing you can do.
After the first month or two, breastfeeding became more second nature. It definitely got easier in some ways...but more difficult in others. At about 3 months, I had a bit of a panic that I couldn't keep up my supply with him enough to go back to work. My freezer stash was pretty minimal despite all the pumping I was doing.
How did you prep for work?
By the time I eventually went back to work at 3.5 months postpartum, I was only pumping a half a bottle at a time, and I depleted my stash within a couple of weeks! The more I talked to working moms, the more I realized that nearly every one of them had this same issue. My sister encouraged me to introduce a bottle early on, once breastfeeding was established, but well before I went back to work. And at around 3 months, she told me to try formula to see if he'll take it -- just in case. Now I pump 2-4 times while I'm at work, depending on the job. I produce enough for about 1 bottle, and supplement with formula for 1 bottle, which is usually enough for when I'm working. I breastfeed when I'm at home.
What's your breastfeeding goal?
The fact that I exclusively breastfed for 3 months was a big feat for me. Even at 6 months, which was my goal when I started, he's mainly been breastfed. If I make it to a year, that would be amazing. If I don't (he just got his first tooth—ouch!), then that's fine too. He's been growing so well, and that's all I can ask for. And as they say, fed is best.
How do you make breastfeeding/pumping "work" while working?
As if pumping isn't challenging enough, it's definitely more of a challenge being a freelancer and advocating to find the time and space to pump while working. I've been fortunate to work with people that understand and will allow me to take the time to do it, but I usually only get about 15 minutes at most (including setting up and cleaning parts) and unlike those that work in an office that are lucky to have a designated space to pump, I often have to scramble to find the space.
Tell me about some of the weirdest, most uncomfortable places you've pumped.
One amazing studio that I work in often has a lot of moms working there, so they designate an office/closet space as their pumping room. Once I interrupted a meeting accidentally to pump, and the group offered to move their meeting so I could pump there. How amazing to have working women supporting other working women!
There are times when I haven't been as lucky. I've pumped everywhere from disgusting bathrooms to my car to dressing rooms to the back of a RV to a pop-up changing tent while having a conversation with colleagues. I once had a producer and client walk into the room where I was pumping -- knowing I was pumping in there. The worst was when I was prepping a job and I could only carry around my hand pump, which takes a lot longer, so I sat on the toilet in a department store bathroom for 20 minutes pumping. The store security got notice on their walkie to check on the woman who was in the bathroom for a long time!
How does the right outfit for pumping, feeding and working make all the difference?
For nursing, I need access to the goods quickly and easily because my guy does not have the patience to wait when he's hungry. For pumping, I need easy access as well since there's a lack of time and, sometimes, privacy.
As a stylist, do you feel pressure to look a certain way, even while you're nursing?
I definitely feel pressure to dress like "myself" and not like a nursing mama for my job. I'm my biggest calling card. Even if I'm wearing a nursing top, I still want the people I work with to notice how stylish it is. I've had people ask me about my Teat & Cosset button down, not knowing it was an easy access nursing top!
What's your best tip for finding breastfeeding fashion that works for you?
Don't change your style just because you're pregnant or nursing. Make sure you still feel like "YOU." My Teat & Cosset pieces are things I would wear even after nursing because they're so beautifully made and so “me."
What's the best pumping advice you could give to a breastfeeding mom planning to go back to work, especially if she has a non-traditional desk job?
Advocate for yourself. I was surprised how apprehensive I was to approach colleagues, especially males, to let them know I have to pump. I once had a young male coworker show me to their office's designating pumping room, when I was about to sneak off and pump in the bathroom. I'm so glad I spoke up.
And of course, do whatever works best for you. If it means alot to you to exclusively give your baby breastmilk, then try those marathon pumping sessions and supplements. If you're okay with formula, then don't feel guilty about supplementing. If pumping is too stressful or daunting (I promise it gets easier!!) then maybe it's not for you. Every mom and baby is different, but the most important thing is to not be hard on yourself. Ultimately a happy mama makes a good mama.
Photography by Stylish Hip Kids Photography.
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