So Long Maternity Leave

April 29, 2015

This week marks the end of maternity leave for me.

I don't hate my job, but I'd much prefer to stay home if I'm being honest.

That being said, I learned a few things over the course of maternity leave, and a few while being pregnant in regards to maternity leave.

1. You can take FMLA (family medical leave act) for 12 weeks and not a day extra. 12 weeks and one day in this country means you could lose your job. Unless you work for a company that is more progressive and realizing that women can't get back to work at 6 weeks. Yes, some beg to go back at 4 and I really hope those few don't slow the progress of some companies having a standard paid 12 weeks for women. Of course, if you job doesn't have that... the 12 weeks is unpaid. Unless you have saved vacation days.

I managed to have 30ish sick days saved up so only one week of my maternity leave is unpaid. I ended up only taking 8 because I couldn't afford the pay cut to take the full 12.

2. I will never take less than 8 weeks for maternity leave, next baby will be at least 8 unless I can stock up more sick days. Which leaves Jeremy to taking the baby to all of his well visits during the school year.

Physically speaking, my body wasn't ready at 6 weeks, and here at 8 I still don't feel back to my old self. I had a pretty nasty tear and if I'm totally transparent about recovery the scar tissue is so bad that it feels like the muscles in my pelvis floor are being ripped apart when I stand or walk too much during the day. My OB told me to wait until 9-10 weeks postpartum to resume "activity" and that I would need to come in to remove some of the scar tissue if it didn't get better. I'm not exaggerating either when I say that I was nearly in tears while she was "breaking up the scar tissue" during my 6 week check up.

Since I don't personally know anyone who tore this badly I was slightly shocked at the recovery process of it.

Now I know.

3. I didn't know that over supply was a breastfeeding issue. I've only heard people lament over not making enough milk. So when we hit week 7 and little dude went on a nursing strike and did a complete 180 with how he nursed I was a basket case.

After finally getting to talk to a lactation consultant 5 days into the insanity I got answers. Over supply, if only the lab tech the doctors office saw fit to hand the phone to had known that. The lab tech I talked to acted like what I was describing was something she'd never heard of and I was nuts. Hence the complete sobbing emotional breakdown I had during Jeremy's lunch break that day.

We literally had every single symptom that KellyMom mentions for over supply.

Every last one.

Once I had an answer I could emotionally deal with the issue, and after a few days of pumping first thing in the morning (I was getting 7 ounces) to relieve pressure and then blocking feeding the rest of the day the problem resolved itself in a few days.

And here I'd been taking Fenugreek because I thought I had an under supply, but in my attempts to stockpile the freezer with milk and taking that supplement when I didn't need it caused all my problems.

If you breastfeed, and I so hope you do, find a lactation consultant you can ask questions to, read up on the KellyMom website, and download The Boob Tube podcasts. Those resources were God sent for helping me correct this issue.

4. Learn the breastfeeding laws for your state if you are returning to work or just caught in a situation where you have to feed in public.

Louisiana allows breastfeeding in public (uncovered if you want to) but doesn't have any laws on pumping when you return to work. However Federal Law states that an employer who has more than 50 employees has to allow you "reasonable" time to pump.

It's good that we have it, but there are two issues with that. If you work for someone employing less than 50 people they can deny you the ability to pump. That's a jerk move. It's not an issue at my job, but let's say it was. I would be forced to give my child formula if I didn't want to. No bueno. The other issue falls under the "reasonable time" stated in the law, with no specific amount of time allotted this could cause and issue if you don't have an understanding boss... the law also states they they can dock your pay for the time used in pumping.

5. The biggest thing I learned though, it goes by fast and babies don't keep.

So here's my question for y'all --- Did you return to work pumping, how long was your maternity leave, and what was something you learned in those first few wees?