Nursing while working: parents at Beyond share their stories

In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, we’re reflecting upon this year’s theme, “Let's make breastfeeding and work, work!” and inviting our people to share their stories.

4 min read
August 7, 2023
Jade Fitzgerald
Jade, UX Design Director, is a working mum with a decade of experience crafting user-centric solutions across industries

By one widely-cited estimate, a mother who breastfeeds dedicates about 1,800 hours annually to the task. When compared to the 1,900+ hours spent on full-time work per year, the commitment to doing both becomes all the more evident. For our working and breastfeeding mothers, this sums up to a staggering 3,700+ hours.

While every parent’s journey is different, the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life, to be continued for up to 2 years or beyond. For parents who follow this recommendation, it’s essential to have the right support at work that allows for nursing.

We aim to support each parent at Beyond in their unique journey — whether that’s by offering dedicated spaces for breastfeeding mothers who choose to work from our hubs, connecting our people to professionals who can support them, or simply lending an understanding ear. And with more parents at Beyond than ever before, we invited a few to share their breastfeeding stories and paint a picture of both the joys and challenges of this intimate journey.

A parent breastfeeding their child while outside at a cafe.

Riding the rollercoaster ride

“I’ve found breastfeeding incredibly therapeutic overall, but if, at the start, someone had told me the truth about the lows of breastfeeding, I probably wouldn’t have been so eager. The initial phase was marked by struggles, but the joy of our bond, the rush of oxytocin — it's been surreal.

However, as a mum who is now almost a year in and back at work, it isn’t always easy. Balancing meetings with pumping schedules and navigating my son's milk strike as he entered nursery school has been demanding.

Breastfeeding is a constant rollercoaster of emotions, and although it has substantial highs and lows, I know the ride must come to an end at some point. So, for me, I intend to embrace every minute of what we have.”

“Breastfeeding is a constant rollercoaster of emotions, but I intend to embrace every minute.”

Jade Fitzgerald

Experience Design Director

Two parents with their newborn child.

Supporting through struggles

“Before our son Harry, I believed (somewhat misguidedly) that breastfeeding was a straightforward process. However, it was at times a very difficult and deeply upsetting process that kept my wife from the magical bonding moments that were important to her.

As a partner, I quickly learned that suggesting well-intentioned alternatives — such as trying formulas, so that I could assist — was not the way to handle the situation. My role wasn't to chart alternative paths, but to stand by her and support her decisions unequivocally.

My priority became to offer unwavering emotional support without judgment. Her choices, her emotions towards our son, and her autonomy over her body were paramount. My calling was simple — to listen, understand, and be there every step of the way.”

Dan Reeve, Senior UI Designer

Two children laying on the floor and smiling

Not giving up

“When you’re planning to have a child, people give you warnings about lack of sleep, but rarely do they mention the struggles of breastfeeding. Through tears, pain, rounds of mastitis, and countless dollars spent, I was able to breastfeed my daughter for one year.

I fought every day for a year to keep going because mom told me, ‘On your hardest day, don’t give up if you want to breastfeed.’ I wanted to give up so many days, but there was a special feeling I wasn’t ready to lose.

I now also have a son who is nearly 8 months old, and my struggles continue in their own unique way.

But I am grateful to have support from fellow parents, a work environment that allows me the flexibility to pump, and a patient husband."

“Everyone’s journey looks different. Do what works for your family.”

Kristine Medina

People + Culture Director, North America

A collage of a family with two parents and two children.

Forming a bond as Dad

“My wife fed our eldest for 18 months and is on track to do the same with his younger brother. It's not always been plain sailing, but I know she counts herself lucky that she’s been able to breastfeed both children.

However, breastfeeding did admittedly make it harder to form a bond with our youngest son once there were two children to look after: When he was born, my wife fed him throughout the night for the first few months while I looked after our oldest in the mornings and supported Mum during the day while working.

This gave us balance, but not having any feeding time with our youngest made it harder to establish a connection with him. Babies naturally want their mum, but it felt more pronounced this time.

Thankfully, though, once I could start feeding him solid foods, we created the bond that I had so sorely missed, and we’re all the more happier (and rested) because of it.”

Jimmy Toseland, Product Lead

A parent and their baby looking at each other.

Redefining what’s ‘best’

“‘Breast is best’ is a phrase hammered down new mum’s throats — from the midwives, health visitors, your mum, your partner’s mum, the neighbour, the dog walker, Joan down the road. But what if your best is not your breast?

My milk stopped at four months postpartum, and when it stopped, I felt like a complete failure; like I couldn’t feed my daughter. As I sat feeding her with formula, tears streaming down my face, a breastfeeding mum next to me said the words every new mum should hear: ‘You are doing your best.’ The tears continued to stream down my face, but now for a different reason: I knew that I had not failed.

It doesn’t matter how we choose to feed, we just have to do our best, be kind to ourselves and kind to others.”

“It doesn’t matter how we choose to feed, we just have to do our best, be kind to ourselves and kind to others.”

Sheetal Schofield

Associate Creative Director

4 min read
August 7, 2023
Jade Fitzgerald
Jade, UX Design Director, is a working mum with a decade of experience crafting user-centric solutions across industries