Breast-feeding babies at the office

12 Mar

First things first. I apologize for a long blogging hiatus. This is my first post in about four months. The best thing about my blogging hiatus is that it has been for a great reason, and one that I know many working moms will be jealous of. I get to bring my baby to work. I get to have my cake and eat it, too. No, this is not a long term solution, and very soon he will have to stay at home with our nanny. But for now, he has been able to be with me 24/7, and I have been able to continue to come to work and run my business.

The realty of being the CEO of a 45 person company is that I really had no maternity leave. It’s not that “the company” didn’t give me one. It’s that a CEO can’t take that sort of time off.  I was answering emails from home  the Monday after my son was born,  with my baby lying next to me sleeping and nursing as he needed to. I was back in the office January 4th (my son was born December 12th). But how fantastic has it been for me to not have to give up on the bonding and closeness that comes from being with a new baby ALL THE TIME? Instead he just comes along my normal day with me.

breast-feeding baby at work

Baby #3 in a sling, under the Bebe au Lait nursing cover

Some people do think it is a little strange and inappropriate. I am at the office and attending meetings with the baby in the sling, and in  a great nursing cover from Bebe au Lait (seeing as this is my third child I have breast fed, I can’t believe I didn’t invent this simple yet vital tool for nursing moms), so that my baby can sleep and breast feed all day long. I have conducted interviews while breast feeding my baby. Yes, that’s true. The baby was hidden and behind the nursing cover — so that I was not being inappropriate, but I am sure some people may be offended. I think this is the reality of being a working mom. I think I am lucky to be able to make the choice and bring my baby into the office for the first three or four months of his life. I think it gives me the best of both worlds — being able to work, while also being able to bond with my new baby. I realize that this scenario is unique and can’t work for everyone. It works for me for some reasons that are really beyond most people’s control:

  1. My baby latches really well. He can nurse in the sling, behind the cover without needing any help from my hands. He can stay latched while I walk around.
  2. My baby has not been very fussy. He does not have a lot of gas, does not seem to get tummy aches, and is a really good eater.
  3. Because he is not very fussy, as long as he is with me in the sling he is generally happy and quiet. I have conducted conference calls with clients that were over an hour long and no one on the other end of the phone knew there was a baby in the room.
  4. My husband works with me and can take the baby when I have to go to the bathroom, and once or twice I have had to quickly hand off to him because the baby did get fussy during a call. When the baby makes noise and I am on the phone, I apologize to the caller for the noise, but I don’t apologize for having a baby in the office.
  5. He is my third. I am not as nervous about things. He then doesn’t sense I am stressed out. It’s a lot easier to multi-task and actually get stuff done when the baby hanging around my neck is a third child. I don’t think I could have done it with the first. I did do it with the second.

So there you have it. My approach to motherhood and career. Yes, maybe you can have it all. As long as you are okay with the exhaustion and the back ache that comes with doing a full day at the office, and taking care of a newborn baby who hangs from your neck and shoulders for most of the day. For me it’s worth the back ache. For me, it’s worth the judging I probably get from other people who find it inappropriate. I think it’s the ultimate show of how you can work and have a baby, and not give up bonding and breast feeding.  I’m sure there are plenty of people who will disagree.

21 Responses to “Breast-feeding babies at the office”

  1. Jen March 14, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    I think this is the way to go! I’m curious if besides the CEO, there are other parents in your company who are able to try bringing their infant to work.

    • sabyberry March 15, 2010 at 8:38 am #

      Hi Jen-
      Our policy here is that any breastfeeding mom can bring a baby into the office for the first 3 months. One other mom has taken advantage of our offer. We also private pumping areas for other moms who have opted to take maternity lave for 3 months and then return to work but leave baby at home/daycare. I think it is important to really support working moms in a way that very few companies do, most of the time I think because it’s a man in charge. While a man can be completely understanding of working moms and I’m not saying men are in any way “bad”, just that when the boss has to struggle with breast feeding and pumping and maternity leave issues, her perspective is absolutely different than a man who went through it through a spouse or partner only. No man in charge has had the first hand experience with these issues like I have. I better bring more to the table! ;)

  2. Stephanie March 18, 2010 at 7:08 am #

    We plan on having babies in the office – once someone has one! :) No startup dogs for us, just startup babies. You can lend us one of yours if you want. Love that you bring him to work and love that you try to support working moms. Keep it real!

  3. Michelle April 1, 2010 at 6:21 pm #

    I love this! It’s so hard for me to find a balance between work and home & hearing how Moms successfully find the balance is inspiring!

    Michelle Lynch
    http://www.babesatwork.com

  4. Susan May 14, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    Thank You! This was very encouraging as I am about to have my 3rd baby as well – but this will be the first during my time running a company. My business partner has been very supportive during the pregnancy and understands the importance of the closeness in the beginning. I will definitely use your experience as guide to a happy, family friendly work environment. Thank you again!

    • sabyberry May 20, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

      Good luck Susan! IT has definitely been challenging for me — but rewarding and exhilarating.

  5. Tracy Matthewman June 8, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    Hi! Wow. Being a CEO and a mom all at the same time is really one challenging job. I can relate with your problem with you managing your time as a CEO and as a mother to your born child, that is why I want to share with you something that I really think could help you a lot with this dilemma. Here’s a link to free videos where you can learn how to effectively manage your time as a woman who wants to be ahead of your game all the time: performtoprofit.com

    I hope you can visit it and let me know what you think. =)

    Best regards!

  6. Margaret Heffernan August 27, 2010 at 2:35 am #

    Great post. When I was breastfeeding and a CEO what drove me nuts was that airports almost never have a private pumping or breastfeeding room. If your flight gets canceled, what are you supposed to do? I got stuck in some of the grimiest, ugliest, most uncomfortable closets imaginable. And these airlines say they cater to the business customer?

  7. Abbi Whitaker September 2, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

    thanks for sharing your journey. i think so many of us are so afraid to bring our babies to work, have them cry on a conference call or have a client come into the office and judge us because we have a portable crib in the corner and a playpen. we can have it all — and yes it does come with a lot of sacrifices, but it’s well worth it in the end. eden is 10 months old and doesn’t come to work too often anymore (mostly because she puts everything in her mouth) but my day is always a bit brighter when she’s around!

  8. uncensoredmind September 2, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    very inspiring … im definitely not a CEO (yet) and i work for a relatively large company. my job is public facing so there was absolutely no way i could take my son with me to work. it makes me sad and i look forward to the day when i can have him with me all day (though those days are numbered since he wont need me like he does now for much longer)

  9. Sarit September 3, 2010 at 6:22 am #

    A year a go I was CEO in a company, unfortunatly this company doesn’t exist anymore but I can happily say that when I gave birth to my third baby they ask me to come to work so I tkk my baby with me. I was breastfeeding my baby in my room and I felt so good about it because my baby was next to me.I wish a lot of company will support moms who come to work in their maternity leave or even after and give them the place so they can breastfeed privately.

  10. Penelope September 3, 2010 at 10:02 am #

    WTG!!! What a wonderful story, and how awesome of your company to support nursing moms this way!

  11. Margaret Heffernan September 7, 2010 at 9:51 am #

    Dear Sabrina
    I’ve loved your blog so much that I wrote about it:

    http://tinyurl.com/2bfy

    Best wishes,
    Margaret

  12. Breast Feeding Newborn October 6, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    Nice and detailed information here. I’ll definitly keep an eye on this site. :) Best regards.

    Breast Feeding Newborn

  13. Anne Lee October 13, 2010 at 2:07 am #

    As a working mom I find your site very informative. I just bookmarked your site, keep up the good work!

  14. Kyla's Mom August 1, 2011 at 3:26 am #

    i have enjoyed reading yo bog, i returned to work today after my maternity leave and brought my baby wit me,but feel so comfortable knowing i have her here with me and i am able to work! she is not a fussy baby, has been sleeping most of the time. i brought my nanny too just in case i am unable to attend to her.. she is breastfeeding exclusively thus i had to bring her wit me. the company is okay wit this arrangement so are my co-workers! i feel truly blessed…..

  15. PJ McDaniel September 8, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    The new trend in my neighborhood is that mom’s, after their maternity leave is up, alter their work schedule aka put in 4 x 10 hr. days, leaving 3 days a week to be home with baby. Then there’s another trend…..

    G’ma, or the nanny, literally goes to work with the new mother so that the baby can nurse “on damand.” This is terribly important for babies who simply will not take a bottle. (extended leave and disability/unemployment benefits may also be available if the baby absolutely prefers the breast.)

    Even mom’s who don’t work in an office can negotiate this with their boss as long as the breastfeeding breaks aren’t “paid.” It is my hope that breastfeeding moms will be put on salary during this crutial time as long as their logged work hours remain adequate. Seriously, breastfeeding doesn’t last for ever so there’s no long term risk for the company. It may even be a selling tool for top qualified workers who may want to apply.

    How it works:
    During conference calls etc… G’ma watches the little one while mom is in the conference room / on a conference call etc… then mom and baby are reunited for the next feeding. Mom and G’ma bring their lap tops are both able to ck email and get some work done while baby sleeps. It matters not whether mom is part of the housekeeping crew at a hotel, or if she is the haridresser to the stars. This can work well for moms and babies up to 2+ years old. Babies, Infants, and Toddlers generally sleep a good portion of the day so, with a lay-down stroller or Moses Basket, nap time is also a portable event. Not only does this keep the babies from being plopped in front of a TV all day (thereby stunting their verbal and other skills) it allows for better bonding time during the first year or two. They learn how to behave in different environments and don’t have the anxiety that some home bound babies develop. Older babies may need to go for a walk once they’re up from their nap & feeding time is over, but that’s what the Nanny / G’ma is for. This is beneficial for all of them.

    Some businesses are considering alloting a certain amount of office space for a co-op type day care with just this type of set up in mind. “Bring your own Nanny” could be the next best thing to staying home.

    There are plenty of independent “empty nest” moms (G’mas) who are retired / semi retired and simply don’t mind putting their time to good use, for a good cause. What better cause than to promote breastfeeding and providing the closeness that even busy mom’s need with their babies!

    For more information on how this is being done, email me at miramarartsassociation@gmail.com.
    PJ

  16. anonymous bittorrent November 24, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    Good post. I am going through some of these issues as well.
    .

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