Guest Post: Pumping at Work 101

Pumping at Work 101 | CorporettePumping at work: it’s one of the toughest parts of going back to work after maternity leave. In past posts we’ve covered what to wear to pump at work, how to manage pumping in different offices, pumping during work travel, and how to dress professionally when you go back to work (when your pre-pregnancy clothes still don’t fit). Today Reader K gives you some basic tips for pumping at work and recommends a few helpful products. Thank you, K!

My best friend gave me great advice before I went back to work: The dread is worse than the reality. I was nervous about leaving my little guy with someone I barely knew; I was nervous I would not be as good at my job as I had been before I left for leave; I was nervous that I would sit at my desk missing him all day. Basically, I was nervous about everything.

But now, seven months in, it hasn’t been that bad. For the most part, I have managed to focus completely on whatever I’m doing, whether work or home life. That means I am really efficient at work and then don’t really check my email once I get home until after my son goes to bed. (Fortunately, we hit the baby jackpot and got a great sleeper.) The hardest part, though, was pumping at work. After reading comments here and talking to my sister and some friends, I got into my routine. (Pictured: breast pump overload, originally uploaded to Flickr by madichan.)

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Do You Have a New “Beauty Minimum”?

postpartum beautyHere’s another fun question for the mamas out there — do you have a new “beauty minimum”?  Most women I know have different levels of beauty maintenance — there’s the “big interview” look, the “going out to a nice restaurant” look, the “regular workday” look, the “lying around the house” look, etc. For most women I know, several, if not all of those levels, changed a bit after their children were born.  Maybe you only wear eyeliner if it’s a big day (and not a regular day) now; maybe you only get a bikini wax before vacation instead of once every few months. (Or, maybe you haven’t changed a thing!)

For me, I suspect it’s partly a matter of priorities (if I have an extra 20 minutes to myself in the morning, I’m sleeping instead of doing my makeup), partly a matter of practicality (why spend a long time on my hair if I’m going to put it into a bun immediately so my toddler doesn’t grab it with sticky hands), and partly a matter of… this may sound odd, but feeling uncomfortable with vanity after having kids. [Read more…]

Have You Sought Out New Mom Friends?

Working Mothers and Mom FriendsHow are you doing on your mom friendships? One of my best friends, who was now a SAHM, asked me that question when both of our kids were about 6 months old. She had actively been trying to make friends with neighborhood moms at the playgrounds and local gym classes, both to schedule playdates and build a support system. Some of the friendships, she found, were kind of forced; others were going well.

My response: huh? I had friends. Some of them were moms. Why did I need local mom friends — new friends where the only thing we had in common was locality and the fact that we got pregnant around the same time? If a friendship happened naturally, great, but I wasn’t going to seek it out (and I certainly wasn’t going to try to force it). In addition to being a lifelong introvert, my reasoning at the time was that she was a SAHM and needed a support system and a schedule — as a WAHM mom I already had a schedule, and I preferred to spend my limited kid-time either focused on the kid or as a family. Besides, I figured, mom friends would come about naturally once my child started making friends.

I’ve thought a lot about that conversation, though, and am curious what other working moms have done. Did you prioritize finding new “mom friends,” even if just for maternity leave? (Have you kept in touch after you went back to work?) Have you naturally made new mom friends? For those readers with older kids, have your mom friendships changed through the years?

Pictured: Onehundred and fiftythree, originally uploaded to Flickr by Roxanne Milward.

Talking About Your Kids at Work

talking about kids at workMoms: do you ever feel judged — or at least subject to coworker eye-rolling — for talking about your kids at work? Do you avoid talking about being a mom for that reason, or maybe because your definition of “professionalism” includes limiting discussion of your family life at the office? I’ve been thinking about this lately because, since launching the CorporetteMoms site, whenever someone on Corporette brings up a parenting-related topic (which you are still welcome to do on either site), it leads to at least one comment along these lines:

“I HAVE AN IDEA: WHY DON’T YOU USE THE ‘MOM’ BLOG SO THE REST OF US DON’T HAVE TO LOOK AT THIS CRAP?”

This particularly harsh comment has been made not just once, but twice (someone knows how to use Ctrl-C!). The first time was in response to a question about pursuing a new job while visibly pregnant, and the second to a request for resources for working moms with a new baby. While I don’t make a habit of deleting comments, that one is now in the trash.

Now, as things go, Internet commenters can be, er, opinionated  and the person (or, at least, the IP address) that posted this “crap” question appears to have anger issues, based on other comments she’s made… but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s this: if one person has the balls to say it (or write it in an Internet forum), many more are thinking it. So this hostility to mom-ness, to two totally legitimate questions for a career advice blog, struck me as something worth discussing.

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Blog about Your Work/Life Balance

guest worklife blogger.indexedI’ve always been fascinated by work/life balance — although it’s a problem for everyone, working mothers in particular have to navigate the trials and tribulations of pregnancy and maternity leave, and then return to work, often with a new set of personal expectations (and often amidst extreme exhaustion).  I think it all too often ends up feeling like you have to reinvent the wheel, and I’d love to get a group of REAL women blogging about their specific experiences.  Click here to find out more about what’s involved — we’d love to have you!

Update: Email address fixed!

The Pregnancy Corridor

The Pregnancy Corridor | CorporetteMomsWelcome to what I like to call “the pregnancy corridor”! If you’re already pregnant, you’ve been here since you started trying to conceive (TTC) — and you’ll likely be here until your youngest child is weaned (if you’re planning to nurse). What does this mean? It means that your body is no longer your own, at least for a little while. It also means that these are going to be trying times to interview for new jobs or otherwise “lean in.” That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t interview for new jobs — or shouldn’t lean in — I’m just warning you, you need a plan of attack. Now, before the baby arrives, you may want to sit down and write out your own career plan for the next five years or so — what skills or accolades do you want to acquire? What salary do you want? Be specific, and try to be realistic — it’ll help guide you through the next few years. (It’s also fine, IMHO, to recline during this time period — it’s a really, really trying time for most women between the hormones, sleep deprivation, childcare commitments, and general life shifts.)

On the body side of things, you may want to talk with your doctor about some of the issues below. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m told Emily Oster’s book, Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong, may be a great way to help you better evaluate the information and risks regarding pregnancy — the whole premise of her book is that much of general pregnancy wisdom (from doctors and the general public alike) is based on poorly-conducted studies. (A good counterpoint: this Motherlode article from the NYT (registration may be req’d).) You’re going to make your own choices here, but I would say that if you’re of the opinion that you’re too busy to MAKE a decision, the default might be to just “avoid until I’m not pregnant/nursing/in the corridor.” (Honestly, that’s been my own non-decision decision.)

A few things that you should talk with your doctor about:

  • Vitamins. Buy your prenatals in bulk — you’ll be taking them while pregnant, if you nurse, and while you’re TTC (if you want multiple children). Your doctor may ask you to stop taking other vitamins during this time period (or at least check ingredients, such as looking at the mercury content if you’re taking omega-3 pills).
  • Medicines. Some medicines (prescription and OTC) are considered harmful to a developing fetus; in a perfect world some doctors even suggest you stop months before you’re trying to conceive so that the drugs can clear your system. One doctor even told me that I should stop taking Advil a month or two before we started trying to get pregnant.
  • Topical skin treatments. Some topical treatments such as retinoids and salicylic acid are very harmful to the developing fetus — ask your doctor whether you should make any change in your skincare system (including sun protection). I’ll share my own pregnancy skincare routine in a later post, but I’m no expert — again, talk to your doctor.
  • X-rays and lasers. If you’re not yet pregnant, go to the dentist and get your yearly dental X-ray, because you probably won’t be able to do it when you’re pregnant (and may not want to when you’re nursing either). If you’ve been getting laser hair removal (or are in the habit of getting a yearly touch-up), try to finish your appointments before you get pregnant, or at least talk with your hair removal person about whether he or she can work on you while you’re pregnant or nursing. If you may be due for a mammogram (or might want a “baseline” one), try to get it done before you start trying to get pregnant.
  • Hair dyes and chemical treatments. Talk to your doctor about this — depending on what chemicals are in the dye (or a treatment like a Brazilian keratin treatment) your doctor may suggest you steer clear while you’re TTC, pregnant, or nursing. One good solution (if you’re not yet pregnant) is to dye your hair closer to its natural color, so it grows out more naturally.
  • Foods. The list of foods some people say you shouldn’t eat while pregnant is long and depressing (and your taste aversions may take care of the rest).  Things to talk about with your doctor if you eat frequently include: high-mercury foods, raw fish and meats, coffee, alcohol, deli meats, hot dogs, raw vegetables (some, like alfalfa sprouts and broccoli, aren’t recommended at all; others may be at risk for listeria if not washed properly), foods with BPAs (e.g., canned veggies and soups), foods made in a commercial blender (e.g., peanut butter, hummus, frozen yogurt, etc.).

Personally, I’ve been in the pregnancy corridor since mid-2010, when my husband and I started to seriously think about getting pregnant — and I’m still in it! Even though I stopped nursing my first child in August 2012 (after a year), I knew we wanted to get pregnant again soon, so I didn’t change my routine too much. I did get some laser hair touchups, dental X-rays, and a baseline mammogram in that brief window before we started trying again, though — who says mamas don’t have any fun?

Readers, how long have you been in the Pregnancy Corridor? What choices have you made (health or career-wise) while in this time period? If you’re out of the pregnancy corridor — what advice do you have for those still in it?

 (Pictured: Corridor – Telephoto Zoom Effect, originally uploaded to Flickr by Natesh Ramasamy.)

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N.B. PLEASE KEEP COMMENTS ON TOPIC; threadjacks will be deleted. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course I highly value all comments by my readers, I’m going ask you to please respect some boundaries on substantive posts like this one. Thank you for your understanding!