Wednesday, February 8, 2012

influencing breastfeeding: more than you ever wanted to know about my boobs

Breastfeeding twins is hard. The boys are pretty much exclusively eating pumped breastmilk that is fortified with weight gainer and has doses of medicine that they need in it. Pumping enough to feed two growing boys is really tough. Every single day I have to convince myself that I want to do this and that all this work is worth it. But I'm starting to realize that honing personal motivation is likely not enough to keep me going to at least May. SO I've come up with an Influencer plan.
I work for a fabulous company that essentially packages social science research. Influencer is a book and training geared toward effecting change (and Change Anything is the personal side of the Influencer coin). I actually applied the Influencer methodology to voter turnout for my thesis, but now I'm just getting geeky.
I thought I would share with you my Influencer plan for breastfeeding. If some of you, like myself, have a hard time staying motivated to do this, perhaps this will help you as well. For me, sharing it publicly is actually a social motivation strategy.
I'll explain below.

First, lets see the model.

I'll share with you my strategy for each box. If you have further interest in this, you can either buy the books, ask me about training, or even check out where you can develop your own change plan and have access to behavioral research that can assist you in your change plan.

SO here we go

1. Personal Motivation - while there are ways to develop personal motivation if you don't currently have it (i.e. Learn to Love what you Hate) I actually am strongly personally motivated. I just need to remind myself that I am when the personal costs start adding up. So I've developed a saying that I tell myself whenever its time to pump. "I want the BEST for my little men". I also had a friend of mine design a poster with this saying that I have placed in my office at work as a physical reminder of my personal motivation to pump at work. Again, I actually am very personally motivated - I just need to be reminded of this often.

2. Personal Ability - I've realized that exclusively pumping really sucks but it sucks worse when not equipped with knowledge. So I've upped my breast pumping ability by gaining resources on how to better do it. If you're curious, I now have a hands-free bra which allows me to not only work while I pump, but also allows me to extract more milk while pumping by also using my hands and not just relying on the pump. For an informative but slightly disturbing video (as in your staring at women milking themselves) go here. If you pump, this video is very helpful. I also take Fenugreek. This is an herbal supplement that has helped to increase my milk supply and make me smell like maple syrup. We have had more pancakes since.

3. Social Motivation - ah, harnessing the power of social pressure. Well, if you're a new mother, you are well aware of the pressure to breastfeed. It surrounds you. And if you have babies in the NICU, nurses are trying to get their hands on your breasts so they can milk you themselves. One way that I'm trying to get my peers on my team is by doing this blogpost. I need cheerleaders. I don't need people telling me its okay if I don't make it to 6 months breastfeeding the boys. I already know that and it just creates more excuses for me. So I have this post. I also have my husband who is constantly cheering me on and helping me to do whatever is necessary for me to pump, including taking late night feedings so I can just pump beside him and not have to do the feeding and changing on top of it.

4. Social Ability - I also have the support of my co-workers and boss, who have agreed not to bother me when my blinds are down in my office because they know I'm pumping. This is a big one. If my boss weren't on board, then he could easily trample on my pumping schedule just by requiring that I always be available or that I attend various extraneous meetings. My husband also effects my ability here. If he didn't take some of the feedings, I wouldn't be able to get enough sleep or eat enough to produce the amount I need to produce for the boys.

5. Structural Motivation - This one often goes unnoticed but its very important. For me, I have placed the pump right next to my keyboard at work or right on the end of the couch at home. This way I have very easy access to it and don't have to travel far to pump. I've also ordered cleaning accessories to make it quick and easy to clean the pump pieces. (Doug also cleans them often for me - more social support). I also have posters in my office, a paper chain counting down days till their 6 month birthday, and the big one - I have created a giant award for myself if I make it to 6 months and a picture of it in my office and in my pump bag as a reminder of the big reward. A BIKE. Yup. If I make it to six months then I am rewarding myself with a street bike that I can strap a baby boy to the back of and go for family bike rides. I have a mental image of Doug with one boy on the back of his bike and me with another and us blissfully riding around to various parks in the area. :)

6. Structural Ability - Blinds in my office was a must. If I didn't have this then I wouldn't be able to pump at work. The company actually paid for the blinds and installation. Awesome!

There are other components to the Influencer methodology, but I hope you can see the many different areas of influence and how I plan to use them to work for me, rather than against me. If you have suggestions that can further help me to stay the course till at least May 8th - please let me know.

Thanks everyone! Your support is so appreciated!


Aleisha Z. Coleman said...

well, if i must say, i love your boobs...and maybe that is too much information, too! i full on support your breaastfeeding and can only imagine how difficult it is to do without feeling like you are only a mamary gland! love you and i support you!

Elizabeth said...

Because I am the competitive sort, I made a competition with myself to see how much I could pump each day, and how fast. Then I looked forward to pumping (as much as one can) to see if I could beat my own record.

Admittedly, not the strategy for everyone but I found it to be a good pressure rather than a negative one.

Also, I rather enjoyed the peace and quiet. (Except for the pump, because it was insanely loud.)

Jennie Ellett said...

YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!! (and yes I was yelling that). I stopped at 5 months because my son had a milk protein allergy and I thought it would be too difficult to eliminate dairy from my diet. Well when he began table food I had to do it (read every label, plan) and it wasn't that hard. I felt guilty for a very long time. So as Nike says... JUST DO IT!

Tanei Atagi said...

Jo! What brilliant ideas! I'll be on your pumping team any time! Maybe we could fill a whole swimming pool and have people swim around in it...gross. Point is, I'm in to be a cheerleader! BREAST MILK RULES!

Rachel C. said...

I think I found you through Becky at "Baby Making" a while back...anyway, here's some cheering on from a random stranger! :) You can do it!! I pumped for three months while my boys were in the nicu and then another month once then were home. Once they were home we transitioned to breastfeeding, so now they just nurse. They're almost a year old...I can't believe it! I'm glad you have the hands-free pumping bra! That's the best way to do it. I also got a power adapter for the car so that I could pump while I drove. I used the hands-free bra and put a nursing cover over myself. This was really important for me, because our nicu was an hour away, so I could use some of that time in the car for pumping. I would also totally suggest using a hospital grade pump, if you aren't already. It's SO worth the cost. Mine was $60 a month to rent (medela symphony, I think?), but that thing worked so, so well. I just told myself $60 was nothing compared to all the money we would have been spending on formula.
good luck and best wishes!

Nikki Barkume said...

Dear boob woman... I think you are absolutely fantastic and the mere fact that you even created a graph depicting a motivational outline for yourself is evidence enough that making it to may is no problem for you. Besides, that's really not too far away! When you give yourself that award, I want to host a party and we'll celebrate!