Blog Hop & Grand Prize
Thanks for hopping over from Mummies Waiting and welcome to my post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt.
Day 4: Working and Breastfeeding sponsors today include Feed Me Mummy with a black and white vest combo, Thrupenny Bits who are offering a cute cord in blue breastfeeding cushion, and Kids Bee Happy who are offering a choice of sand art picture for our Grand Prize winner.
Over £700 worth of goodies are up for grabs; entries via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Full details of the Grand Prize can be found here.
My Giveaways and Discount Code
MAM Baby UK , MulitMam, and BreastVest are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week 2015 with you and I today, and supporting my Keep Britain Scavenger Hunt Day 3 post with the following fab giveaways and discounts:
Breastvest | MAM Breastfeeding and Steriliser Set | MAM Breastfeeding Pads | a MultiMam New Mum Pack and Loyon | 50% discount on a MultiMam New Mum Pack and MultiMam balm with the code ‘aNoviceMum’
Breastfeeding after maternity leave
The idea of continuing with breastfeeding when I returned to work was highlighted to me by a leaflet I stumbled upon at the maternity ward before I was discharged. I hadn’t thought that far yet and didn’t think about it again until when I had to write a letter to give notice of my return from maternity leave.
Preparing to return to work
If I remember correctly, you need to give your employer 8 weeks notice if you plan to return to work before the ending of your maternity leave. As a teacher, it made sense for me to return at the start of the academic year; in which case, I thought I might as well return at the end of the Summer term. This way, I could slowly start getting my head around juggling motherhood and work.
In my letter, I informed my employer that I planned to return as a breastfeeding mother, as I had read in the NHS breastfeeding and work leaflet.
I tried not to worry about the compatibility of my (my family and I) decision to return to work and breastfeeding. I spoke with a number of mums at my breastfeeding group about it, and they all assured me that my body will adjust accordingly. Indeed, I was surprised to learn from a mum that she didn’t even pump at work during the day and that her milk supply did not dwindle. Instead, her body adjusted to the needs of her child given their new situation.
Anything to do with milk supply gets my attention; I battled with this for a very long on my journey, due to lack of quality information at the onset of my breastfeeding relationship.
I was concerned about work threatening my breastfeeding relationship; I had worked so terribly hard to make breastfeeding work for us; lots of hope, prayers, reading, asking, and pumping. So I made sure I googled and read up on my legal entitlements. I found Maternity Action particularly helpful.
Return to Work Meeting
Armed with some information, I confidently went to my return to work meeting which I’d arranged over email. To my utter disappointment, I realised that the law wasn’t as clear-cut as I’d thought and that guidelines were subject to interpretation. My confidence and plan dissolved as the meeting went on.
The return to work deal I was offered felt discriminatory to me as a breastfeeding mum and the whole situation was stressful. I was shocked to find out that my right to request for flexible hours to accommodate my breastfeeding needs, did not entitle me to return to the same working terms and conditions after 6 months of maternity leave! Boy, did I wish I knew that before the meeting? O yes! It would have helped me moderate my expectation, and also minimized my disappointment.
The onsetting STRESS was a massive RED ALERT to me. I’d drilled it into my head that STRESS affects MILK SUPPLY. I’m way too traumatised by low milk supply to willingly walk into and stay in a stress causing situation … no way, hosay!
So, I walked away … I withdrew my request to return to work and continued with my maternity leave.I felt this would give me more time with my baby. Also, he would be older and hopefully better able to cope with my absence by the time I had to return.
The financial cost of not returning, a motivation to return earlier, didn’t seem so bad afterall.
I felt hurt, deflated, and let down. I felt that all that I had given to work (many unpaid hours) over the years counted for little with my employer … it sure didn’t inspire them to go out of their way for me when I could have really done with it. Understanding why they couldn’t didn’t change how I felt.
Being a mum had already changed my outlook on work, but this further reduced the heart I had for my workplace forever. No way, would I give as much as I have before. No way, would I consider the needs of work above mine in the way that I had done before. From then on, more than ever before, and indeed rightfully so, my family and I come way ahead of work’s needs.
I tried not to worry about the difficulties of returning after the academic year had started. I had to keep STRESS away.
Return to work
I finally returned a few weeks before my maternity leave ended, so that I could begin at the start of a new term. Management was different, and my return to work discussion went better. I understood the greys in the law better, and though I remain annoyed about it, I’ve moderated my expectations to it. I felt that my new headteacher was also more supportive and understanding, and thinking he was on my side helped me.
I was the first to request to return to work as a breastfeeding mum and my workplace just hadn’t given much thought to what its policy on this is.
In the end, I didn’t feel I could rely on the rest facilities they planned to sort out for me as a breastfeeding mum. Rightfully so too; it hadn’t been sorted the last time I was at work.
Thankfully, I’m very fortunate to work very close to home, and even more, that Precious Sparkle is cared for at home whilst I’m at work.
So, I planned to use my lunch times to go home and breastfeed. In addition to this, I went to work about an hour later than I used to go and left earlier than I used to leave. I was still on time for work.
It was very important to me that the school didn’t do me any favours.
I’ve chosen to continue breastfeeding my toddler whilst working full-time, and I’ll make this work for both of us within what I’m allowed.
I think I’ll have to continue my story in another post, to avoid this one being way too long. Thanks so much for reading, please share if you enjoyed it.
Can you relate with my agony?
For more tips on how to dress to impress please hop on over to Odd Socks and Lollipops where you can gain further entries into the grand prize draw.
Remember you need to earn 50 points to be eligible, full details can be found on the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Site. UK residents only.
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