Choosing to breastfeed/express your milk is a truly beautiful thing. I was a NICU nurse for 4 years and helped countless moms with their first time breastfeeding and pumping. When I became pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed but never realized how much hard work and dedication it would truly take. Since my daughter was born at 36 weeks and was considered a SGA (small for gestational age) baby, breastfeeding was difficult. I did however breastfeed and supplement with breastmilk for the first month. I then switched to solely expressing which worked well for me. Having lots of support truly makes a difference and it’s necessary in order to be successful at pumping! I felt comfortable actually seeing how much milk I was producing and knowing exactly how much milk my daughter was getting. I also was happy that I was able to keep up enough of a supply that allowed her to be exclusively breastfed since she was born. Also, I believe that NYS Paid Family Leave has helped me successfully maintain my milk supply. It makes such a big difference for breastfeeding and expressing moms. From my experience, the first 6 weeks after you have a baby are spent just trying to make sure that your baby is getting enough milk, her diaper is changed, and she is surviving. You aren’t really thinking about how you are going to create a routine that will be effective when you return to the work force. Paid Family Leave allows you to not only bond with your baby, but also establish a routine with your baby so you will feel confident that when you go back to work, it will all be okay. It gives you the added time you need to hopefully establish a good breastfeeding pattern, a great milk supply, a solid pumping schedule, and bond with your baby. It also helps to ease some of your anxiety about returning to work. By taking paid family leave, you have time to just bond with your baby. It’s a great opportunity that new moms can have to allow them to feel connected to their baby, and I was so lucky to be able to participate in that.
Colleen Halouvas, Registered Nurse and mom of a happy little 4-month-old girl.