Body Image As a Mom

Mom Body Image | CorporetteMomsKate and I were discussing the troubling issue of body image as a mom — even if you get back to your old “size,” what do you do when you just feel different in your skin, or when you feel like your shape has fundamentally changed? Kate generously offered to share her thoughts in more detail… —Kat

New mothers are given two choices for looking at and thinking about their post-baby bodies. These general messages are:

Message #1: “If Kate Middleton can do it, so can you!”
Come on, it’s time to lose that baby weight! Look, these skinny celebrities did it — you can too! Don’t worry, breastfeeding will make the weight just FALL OFF. This mom isn’t even a celebrity and it wasn’t a problem for HER. In her words, “What’s your excuse?”

Message #2: “Hey, you went through pregnancy and childbirth! Be proud of your body — it’s amazing!” 
Sure, it looks a bit different now, but it created a new life! Maybe you even breastfeed your baby — you produced milk that kept a little human being ALIVE! Celebrate and love your body, stretchmarks tiger stripes and all!

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Nursing Clothes for Work

nursing-clothes-for-work2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on how to buy nursing-friendly clothes for work — links have also been updated below. You can also check out our page with all of our advice on nursing clothes for working moms.  

Which are the best nursing clothes for work? Can you look professional in comfortable, accessible, washable clothes? Reader E, who is lucky enough to have a daycare at her office, asks:

I’ve come back from maternity leave and can’t find any clothes that are both work appropriate and nursing friendly. I’m lucky enough to have a daycare at work, so I nurse her at lunch time, and pump in the afternoon, so I need versatile outfits. So far, I’ve been relying on ponte skirts (easy to wash if she spits up on it…), and a couple of motherhood nursing tops that look professional-ish, on Fridays I also wear nursing tanks from Nordstrom that have wide straps so I feel I can get away with it on casual days.

I don’t want to spend a lot of money as I still have a lot of weight to lose, and will stop nursing her in 3 months when she turns one. However, it’s getting really boring …. so I’d love to have some more tops that I could use that don’t scream “I used to wear this when pregnant,” but are still user-friendly.

Interesting question — and one that I can see a lot of women struggling with as daycares at work get more and more popular. I have a few thoughts, but am curious to see what other people say:

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When Your Labor Experience Leaves You Angry (and Other Birth Trauma Stories)

when your labor experience leaves you angry (and other birth trauma)A friend somehow stumbled on Jack’s birth story a week or so ago and remarked how births are surprisingly traumatic for a lot of mothers, and how we should discuss it here — particularly how to deal when your labor experience leaves you angry. I agree — as I noted in that (extraordinarily long) post, Jack and I both came out fine in the end, but not without a few harrowing first days for me, in large part due to the feeling that the hospital kind of forgot about me. We couldn’t get a doctor to stay in the room for his birth, and then they stuck us in an isolated room and didn’t visit us for hours afterwards. I nearly passed out the first time I tried to go to the bathroom by myself because I didn’t know I was supposed to ring for the nurse; no one even mentioned that I should try to feed the baby every 90 minutes to establish a supply. Heck, I didn’t even speak to my up-to-that-point beloved OB/GYN — or anyone from her office — after the initial phone call of “Yup, sounds like labor, come to the hospital!”

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Maternity Leave — and Staying Connected to the Office

available-on-maternity-leave

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.)