Maternity Leave — and Staying Connected to the Office

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2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on how to stay connected to the office on maternity leave— links have also been updated below.

There was an interesting story over at Above the Law a few weeks ago, where a securities class-action lawyer in New Jersey was seeking unemployment benefits because she had quit her job after being berated by the managing partner. Why the reprimand? With her supervisor’s approval, she had interrupted a coworker’s maternity leave to seek help with a nationwide class action. (The NJ Supreme Court refused to hear her appeal after the lower court had denied her claim to the benefits.)

So, yay to the boss for protecting that mom’s maternity leave. But it’s an interesting topic with a lot of dimensions. How connected SHOULD you be on your maternity leave, and how should you keep in touch with your office? How available should your employer EXPECT you to be? If there’s a mismatch in expectations, what does it mean for your career prospects? This may be a case where understanding and managing expectations is the key. If your boss expects more than you’re willing to give, what are the best ways to scale back those expectations? If you want to work during your leave and be more involved/available than your employer predicts, should YOU reset your expectations?

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Pumping When You’re Traveling for Work

pumping traveling for workI am far from an expert on traveling for work — particularly while pumping. In fact, I’ve done it exactly twice: once with Jack (for a whirlwind trip to Seattle for a speaking engagement) and once with Harry (for a whirlwind trip to Chicago for an alumni conference). And: what a PITA. Both times, the pump took up almost my entire carry-on bag, and both times I was absolutely wracked with fear, as I boarded the plane, that I had forgotten some essential pump part at home. The first time I flew I was determined to save the breast milk I pumped — liquid gold! — and I traveled with a freezer bag, ice packs, and had all of the relevant TSA and airline printouts with me in my carry-ons. The second time I decided to dump it because, eh, the kid is fine with formula. (Both times I had started the weaning process, so we had already replaced a nursing session with a bottle of formula. I’ll admit that for the second time, I dropped from three feeds a day down to two in anticipation of the travel.)

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Nursing Tuesday: Original Maternity/Nursing Bra

This my favorite DD+ nursing bra to sleep in — I like it so much I may keep buying them after I wean.  It’s not terribly supportive, but it’s all cotton, doesn’t cut or dig anywhere, is functional, and — my favorite part — is high enough that, unlike a lot of other nursing sleep bras, nothing is falling out or totally inappropriate for hanging around the house on a Saturday morning in PJs.  I’m a big fan of the black ones in particular, but I also own it in white.  The sizing can be a bit odd (I wear an L++), but I like the fact that it comes in sizes beyond S/M/L.  Amazon has it for $28-$36.  Bravado! Original Maternity/Nursing Bra

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(Pictured: nothing, as per previous requests. Also, here’s our last discussion on favorite underwire nursing bras, as well as the best clothes to wear while pumping.)

Feeling Like Yourself After Having a Baby

new-mom-feeling-lostWhen you were a new mom, did you feel lost? How long did it take you to “feel like yourself” after giving birth and becoming a mom? Do you think you ever did, or rather just found a new groove as a mom? Which activities helped you feel like your old self again, and which ones made the difference most obvious?

This is a big topic, but I think it’s a really important one. It’s also one of the things that was most — surprising, I guess? — about the whole experience of becoming a mom. Looking back I think, of COURSE everything is going to change once you have kids — and of course no one can explain it to you or prepare you for it beforehand.

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Pumping Tuesday: Undercover Mama

Undercover MamaI was dubious at first about this nursing tank — it’s, like, strapless?  I didn’t get it — until I purchased it — and now, like many of you noted in our last discussion on the best pumping clothes, it’s one of my favorites.  The tank top hooks to the top of your nursing bra so it comes down with the bra, while keeping your belly and back covered; I also like that I don’t have to deal with another set of straps on top of my bra straps, or a shelf bra within the tank.  It can be worn with any nursing bra, and really is very comfortable.  It comes in a ton of varieties —  zillions of colors (who knew?) in sizes XS-XXXL, versions with lace at the bottom (that’s a no for me, but you do you), and if you want a bit of support, a shapewear version.  (I actually have the shapewear version — it takes a bit of shimmying into the first few times, but it probably is my favorite among my nursing tanks.)  It’s priced $17.99-$35 at Amazon. Nursing Tank By Undercover Mama

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The Best Clothes for Pumping: A Poll

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2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on the best work clothes for pumping milk, but you may also want to check out our new page on tips for pumping at the office. This 2017 threadjack also includes a lot of great advice from working moms about which clothes they wore to pump at the office. 

Ladies, let’s take a poll today on pumping habits, and the best clothes for pumping.  How do YOU pump? Bra on, bra off? Shirt pushed up, shirt opened?

For my $.02, I have always found it easiest to pump with a nursing bra and a nursing bustier — so for me just pushing a simple shirt (t-shirt, sweater, whatever) up around my neck is easiest. However, I know a lot of readers have commented that they just wear regular bras and will get undressed all the way (even pumping in sheath dresses!), and others love wrap blouses and dresses (I’m guessing you guys are omitting the hands-free bustier?). Do you feel less naked with your shoulders covered? So let’s discuss:

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(Pictured: There’s a great sale on this Pleione faux wrap blouse, one of the reader favorites for pumping — some colors are up to 70% off, marked as low as $20. This black and white is higher at $40, but I love the versatile pattern — great for hiding a host of stains, leaks, and more. The blouse was $68, but is now marked to $19-$40 at Nordstrom.) Pleione Faux Wrap Blouse

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