Many states have laws on their books that require puppies to stay with their mothers until they are eight weeks old.
I returned to work when my first son was six weeks old, dropping him off at daycare for nine hours a day, five days a week.
I was one of the lucky working moms, though. The company where I worked had a fairly family-friendly environment: private pumping rooms, hospital-grade pumps, onsite health clinic, onsite daycare, paid maternity, and still enough PTO days when I returned.
Even in that environment, it was stressful. I stressed about running out of meetings to pump. I worried about how many ounces I would get. I fretted over pumping in the car at a conference. I felt flustered about bringing a giant bag to work with me. I was frustrated when the pumping room was occupied during the only break I had. I felt plenty of anxiety about my goals: I wanted to pump and breastfeed until my son turned one.
A poster on the wall in one of the pumping rooms echoed the message that moms hear all of the time. It was a picture of a mom holding her sleeping baby. At the bottom, it read as follows:
“I want the best for my baby. I will give my baby mother’s milk for at least the first six months. I know giving my baby formula increases the risk of allergies, infections and visits to the doctor. My goal for a healthy baby is to breastfeed for one or two years.”
It’s really just a longer version of the commonly recited phrase, “Breast is best.”
But could I do this? Could I pump for six months? Could I make it for a year? Certainly not two! And if I didn’t, did that make it my fault if my baby got sick or had allergies? Thanks for the mom guilt, poster!
I vividly remember the day that the director of daycare called to tell me they didn’t have enough milk for my son’s bottles. I called my pediatric nurse practitioner for advice because, even though I regularly made serious decisions for a multi-million dollar software development project at work, I was worried about making the wrong decision for my son.
He began drinking both formula and breast milk.
I cried in the pumping room that day, knowing that I couldn’t possibly take more pumping breaks.
Working moms need all of the support we can get, from our spouses or partners, our bosses, our coworkers, other moms, and our own moms — anyone and everyone.
Kate Torgersen is the CEO and Founder of the company, Milk Stork, which supports pumping for traveling, working moms. She told me about her own stressful experience as a working mom, feeling overwhelmed as she tried to keep up with pumping and working simultaneously.
Her twins were eight months old, and she had a four-day business trip coming up. Her goal was also to make it to the one-year mark, but it had already been a struggle to get to this far — eight months in. Together, the three of them had worked through challenges such as tandem nursing, a tongue tie, latching problems, weight-gain issues, and relentless pumping. She wasn’t sure how she was going to manage four days away from them and still keep it up.
At the same time, she was committed to her career. Many women, when in similar situations, are forced to choose between the two — their family, or their job — because of a lack of support. Moms shoulder the weight of expectations. They have to be all in with kids, or all in with their career. Nobody gets to ‘have it all.’ If a working mom is a CEO, she doesn’t have enough time to be with her kids. If a mom stays home, she’s imploding her career and putting herself far behind with retirement, benefits, pay, and a chance at returning to the workforce.
We can do so much better for working moms. We can shut down these beliefs.
As Kate prepared for her business trip, she researched the logistics of providing enough breast milk for her twins for those four days. The best solution would be to ship it back, so she looked into making that happen.
“It was going to involve sourcing dry ice and shipping materials to my hotel room, and getting myself to a special FedEx shipping facility every day without a rental car,” she said. “It was too much to do on top of the conference and all of the pumping!”
This experience was the impetus for launching her own business a year later: Milk Stork. It’s the “first-ever breast milk shipping company for business traveling breastfeeding moms.”
Not only did Kate want something that would work for her, but she created a company with a mission to support working moms to succeed as the loving, caring provider of their kids — as well as hard-working career women.
Milk Stork provides services for shipping or bringing expressed breast milk home while traveling for business. They provide a letter that women can provide their HR that details the benefits of supporting working mothers better. Through their enterprise program, companies like GoDaddy and Athena Health offer Milk Stork as a benefit for employees.
Kate told me about the growth of her company, fueled entirely by word of mouth from mom to mom. “Moms have discovered Milk Stork,” she said, “and then shared it with their personal and professional networks—their friends, coworkers, family members, Mommy Groups online and in person, lactation consultants, pediatricians, etc.” The word is out.
Every week, Kate receives emails from working moms about how Milk Stork has helped them. She’s even had moms approach her to say thanks at the grocery store, or her son’s baseball practice, because she was wearing her Milk Stork hoodie. Milk Stork is the perfect example of moms supporting moms — because we really are all in this together.