Tips for the Breastfeeding Lawyer

It can be tough to be a breastfeeding lawyer. Heck, you now have two jobs, being advocate and counselor and being dairy cattle. In belated, what can I say I’m a mother of an infant, honor of World Breastfeeding Week, here are some tips for the breastfeeding lawyer.

1. Know Your Rights

We tell this to our clients all the time, but sometimes the cobbler’s kids go without shoes, and lawyers don’t lawyer for themselves. If you’re an employee, you may have rights that include the ability to take time to pump and the right for the employer to make a reasonable effort to provide a private location other than a bathroom to get the job done. Talk to your employer about how you plan to collect milk, how you will keep up your productivity (work, not milk related) and how your employer can provide a private location to do your business, especially if your state requires them to.

2. Nutrition In/Nutrition Out

Lawyers are notorious for eating on the go and not making nutrition during the workday a priority. Most of us might as well be hooked up to a caffeine IV. Breastfeeding lawyers need to nutrition a priority. I’ve found that I’m far more of a raging, starving loon than I was when I was pregnant (I’m still eating for two, but without the pesky heartburn). I’ve also found that having caffeine will affect my production (milk, not work related) and nothing is more demoralizing than spending a half an hour pumping and getting next to nothing. See what works for you, keep nutritious food handy and try to drink more water than coffee.

3. Don’t Beat Yourself Up

You’re trying to not lose a step in your law practice, be the perfect mom and be a source of nutrition for your child. That’s a tall order! The thought of supplementing might send you into a guilt-ridden tailspin. Don’t feel forced to do something you don’t feel is right. But, if it isn’t possible to be working and be the only source of nutrition for your child, don’t beat yourself up about it. Do what’s best for you, your child, and your family and let the rest go.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/publicenergy/1846375599/)

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  • DanaA

    Pumping is a lot easier if you remember that breastmilk can keep, at room temperature, for about 10 hours. If you have a private office, get a lock, keep the pumping stuff in a drawer, and crank out some emails while the machine’s on. Then stick everything back in the drawer until the next session. When you go home each evening, take the pumped milk home in bottles, and clean the pump parts in a sink at the office (or have a few sets, so you can use a clean one each day and just do the washing once every few days).

    If you’re in the office more than 10 hours a day (ahem) use blue ice things to keep the milk cool and extend shelf life, or stick the early-in-the-day pumped milk in the fridge.

    Point is, make it as easy as possible so you won’t be tempted to stop due to the hassle (and can stop when *you want to*.) Using this “system” I managed to pump for about a year for each of my kids, then switched them to regular milk during the day and kept nursing for a good while longer when we were together.

    Oh, another tip: if you can stand to sleep with the baby (and through his/her nursing), it’ll enable you to reverse-cycle — they’ll get most of their milk during the night, leaving less to pump/feed during the day. As a working mother, loved having that extra skin time, too — but YMMV.

  • Jennifer Gumbel

    Those are great tips! I so appreciate b-milk’s shelf life over formula.

  • Kim

    My favorite moment as a new mom/back to work lawyer was when my boss tried to come into my office while I was “pumping”. A male co-worker looked at him as he tried to open my locked office door and said “She’s lactating”. From what I was told, my boss turned about 5 different shades of red and walked away, never to mention it to me.

  • http://rachelrodgerslaw.com/ Rachel Rodgers

    Thanks for a great article! I am expecting my first child in less than two months and have been wondering how I might handle breastfeeding and working. I am lucky in that I work from home so at least I won’t be walked in on by clients but I have wondered about scheduling appointments and then being summoned to feed the baby. I will definitely keep these pumping tips in mind!

    I have to say, I have great respect for all women lawyers who are managing working at a firm and breastfeeding their baby (among the myriad of other parenting responsibilities!). Kudos!

  • Jennifer Lewis Kannegieter

    Thank you for this article. #2 and #3 are essential for any breastfeeding mom. My baby is 4 months old, I have my own firm, and I will officially be going back to work (part time) next week. My own tips for being a breastfeeding lawyer, or just a new mom trying to maintain a practice while on maternity “leave” would be this:

    1. Get a small laptop and a comfortable recliner and learn to work while the baby nurses (or just sleeps on you). My child does not like to nap, but if I set us up in the recliner he will nurse and rest while I get caught up on emails or drafting.

    2. Don’t be afraid to bring the baby along. I have been able to keep up with a couple of professional networking groups, attend a two-day CLE conference, and meet with clients. The first time I took the baby out I felt a little awkward knowing I may need to nurse him, but it really was no big deal. I was then able to continue marketing my practice and interacting with adults while out on leave. For the conference and client meetings, whenever possible I have had a family member come along to watch the baby so I only need to worry about feeding him if needed, but can concentrate on other things.

  • http://www.aprileking.com April King

    You ladies are brave. During my kids’ infancy, I practiced from home, kept it so small it was practically non-existent, and then gave the practice up altogether for four years … that was a mistake. Making breast-feeding and other high-level parenting commitments a priority is tough, but I’m glad to see you staying in. I’m now digging out of the hole of 4 years “at home”–keep your hand in, even if part-time, if you ever want to get back in!