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Doula Case Study: Breastfeeding Back to Work

By Doula Tory

Right now, we have a mama in the throws of the Superwoman-guilt game. After successfully, exclusively breastfeeding for 5 months, she has returned to full time work outside the home. Alarm clocks, breast pumps…the works.

She has a supremely supportive husband and of course her doulas to talk to, but she is still struggling.

She now gives the baby a lot of middle of the night attention—sometimes even more than he needs. Because she misses him. Because she is making up for lost time. However, the middle of the night mothering mixed with a demanding work schedule leaves her exhausted, making the dips into sadness deeper and harder to shake. She cries a lot. It’s heartbreaking to see. This is really hard! Life is hard.

We see so many different families, from all different walks of life—families dealing with autism, alcoholism, history of abuse, poverty, postpartum hospitalization, etc. etc. etc. It’s a significant, humbling lesson for us as doulas—to see that everyone has their own set of pressures, even when they seem to have it all.

Of course, there are a lot of little tricks and nuggets of wisdom and coping methods that we offer a family going through something difficult. Mostly, though, we’re just there. There to offer whatever they need, whatever might help.

And sometimes a family just needs to move through the struggle as gracefully as possible until they get to the other side.

That’s what I see with this mama making the transition back to work. While her doula, her husband, her friends, and families can give her all the love and encouragement in the world, she needs to arrive at her own sense of acceptance. And it will come. She needs to go back to work; she needs to maintain her career. And she needs to be with her baby. That is her personal dilemma. And she will figure it out…in her own time. Until then, we’ll offer our support.


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