It's Working Project

“I made the commitment to myself and to my children that I would breastfeed exclusively for at least a year. That meant pumping 5 times a day every week day ... ”

What is one piece of advice you wish you could offer your former expectant self?

Don’t get bogged down in details and in worrying about what other moms do. Trust your instincts!

What was your primary motivation for deciding to return (or not) to work? How early did you tell your employer?

It is customary in Jewish tradition not to share news of your pregnancy until you are 3 months along. My husband and I followed that for most people in our lives. I chose, however, to share the news of my pregnancy sooner with my boss (but not other colleagues). I run a small office and there was either 1 or no other employees the two times I got pregnant. I knew that me being on maternity leave would make a significant impact on the organization and I wanted my boss to have more time to help me prepare for my leave in a thoughtful and organized way. Both times I shared the news, I called my boss on the phone as he’s based in NYC and I’m in Bethesda. I called when I was about 6-8 weeks along.

FOR MOMS: If you breastfed, was there a place for you to pump that met your needs and was conducive to your success? If you breastfed, how did you decide to continue? FOR DADS: What, if any, adjustments did you (or your workplace) make to your schedule after having a baby? Was it specific to your manager or larger, whole work culture?

I made the commitment to myself and to my children that I would breastfeed exclusively for at least a year. That meant pumping 5 times a day every week day and storing milk for the times I had to travel their first year. I have a job that requires me to travel around the region and to places like NJ and Israel, and I needed to plan my pump schedule accordingly every day to make it work. I also needed to store an extra week’s worth of milk for my daughter to eat when I had to be in Israel when she was 8 months old. And I did make it work despite many obstacles. Both my children received breast milk exclusively every day until they were at least 13 months old.


How much leave did you take, and how comfortable were you taking it?

With my first pregnancy in 2008, I took 12 weeks unpaid leave, as is the historic policy allowed by my employer. It went fine, particularly because my husband was starting a new business and had more flexibility just as my leave ended. If that wasn’t the case, it would have been too short of a leave for me.

With my second pregnancy in 2011, I specifically requested and was granted a 16 week unpaid leave. For the latter, I said I would be available to work from home a few hours each week to keep our office relatively up-to-date. This latter plan worked perfectly. I could work at my leisure when the baby was asleep and not have to come back to an overwhelming amount of work after 4 months.



Who was your biggest source of support in returning to work? What was your biggest pregnancy indulgence?

My boss was certainly supportive, but because he’s in another office physically, I did not need to rely on him for a lot. My husband was then and still is incredibly supportive of the choices we make together for the good of our children. He learned to be very careful with each bag of pumped milk, I assure you!

Naps on the weekend were my indulgence.

Fill in the blanks: As a working parent, I never expected ____ would be so hard and ____ would be so much easier!

I never expected having time to myself would be so hard and feeling relevant and productive while still being an active parent would be so much easier!