Sonia, a Motif Medical mom
Note: Sonia’s breast pumping story is part of a #ThisisPumping photo series chronicling moms nursing as they transition back to work and daily life. View more stories and learn about National Breastfeeding Month here.

Sonia’s Story

Age: 34

Occupation: MotherLove Coordinator at the YWCA Asheville. MotherLove provides support and case management to pregnant and parenting students enrolled in high school.

First-Time Mom

Baby’s Name: River (Rio for short)

Biggest challenge with breastfeeding or breast pumping so far? 

“The size of the pump (if we are traveling) and now having the time to pump at work.”

Biggest reward with breastfeeding or breast pumping so far? 

“The bonding experience with my baby and collecting milk supply so that he can continue drinking my milk.”

Where have you felt most supported breastfeeding or breast pumping? 

“I feel personally empowered when I think of my body creating food for my baby.”

Where have you felt most shamed breastfeeding or breast pumping? 

“In public. There is such a negative stigma around it and it’s unfortunate. I always feel that I have to cover and it shouldn’t be that way.”

Breastfeeding in the Beginning

The first two weeks adjusting was painful for Sonia, but her son, Rio, latched right away and she didn’t have any complications. However, before she had him, she used to get anxiety and would cry that she wasn’t going to be able to feed her baby when the time came.

She credits her son with being her real teacher and the real expert during this whole process. 

Getting Her Pump

Sonia got her pump through insurance via Aeroflow Breast Pumps. She describes the whole process as really simple and quick. 

Initially after receiving the pump she was intimidated by the parts at first. With everything going on for new moms, she was thankful her husband Jared read through the manual and assembled it for her!

Sonia’s Pumping Schedule

Now that she’s back at work and pumping, her milk flow has increased. When she pumps in the morning, she usually gets 5 ounces. By mid-day Sonia says she’s lucky if she gets 2 ounces. After 5pm, once her husband picks her up from work, she will pump in the car for 30 minutes and get another 4 ounces.

During the early evening her milk supply drops. At night, they get full again and she will pump if she has the energy. Since starting daycare, Rio gets up every 2-3 hours.

Now that she’s back at work and pumping, her milk flow has increased.

When she pumps in the morning, she usually gets 5 ounces. By mid-day she’s lucky if she gets 2 ounces. After 5pm, once her husband picks her up from work, she will pump in the car for 30 minutes and get another 4 ounces.

During the early evening her milk supply drops. At night, they get full again and she will pump if she has the energy. 

Since starting daycare, Rio gets up every 2-3 hours.

Breastfeeding and Breast Pumping Support

Before she had her baby, she would talk to her friends about breastfeeding and many said they regretted not being more informed before they started. 

So, when she was seven months pregnant, Sonia started taking breastfeeding classes through Mission Health. Their IBCLCs teach breastfeeding basics through one-on-one sessions and talk to you about breastfeeding safety, including foods, medicines and physical activities.

Sonia says connecting with a lactation consultant early on was incredibly helpful.

She also found resources and educational videos on YouTube.

Partner Support

Her husband Jared is extremely supportive and helpful. He loves feeding Rio because it gives him more bonding time with his son. When Sonia has to leave the house, Jared is able to get more done around the house than she would, because the baby can’t smell the milk like he can when Sonia is there.

Family and Breastfeeding

Her mom breastfed her. She describes it as a family effort. Her mom’s sisters also had babies around the same time and breastfed her as well. 

Currently, Sonia’s sister has two boys. Breastfeeding was much more challenging for her than it was for Sonia and she struggled with mastitis. 

Even when you’re related, breastfeeding can look different from mom to daughter and sister to sister.

Breastfeeding and Pumping at Work

Sonia is in 4th week back at work. She worked part time while pregnant, but reports having more energy now that she’s back working full-time.

“Now that I am back at work full-time, I have to pump a few times per day. Fortunately, I get to breastfeed my baby since he is at daycare where I work – which is awesome.”

Her workplace is a huge advocate for breastfeeding and pumping and they even have a designated area for mothers. Sonia works at the YWCA of Asheville.

Sonia’s boss is an integral, positive force in her day-to-day work life. She always stays on top of her to pump or nurse Rio and always encourages her to step away from her desk and focus on self-care when she has the chance. Although she’s so grateful for the workplace flexibility, Sonia does struggle with guilt about stepping away because she loves her job so much and doesn’t want to seem like she’s taking advantage of this generosity. 

She’s also dealing with the comedy and accidents of breastfeeding at work – like leaking during meetings and Rio throwing up on one of her supervisors!

Sonia is in 4th week back at work. She worked part time while pregnant, but reports having more energy now that she’s back working full-time.

“Now that I am back at work full-time, I have to pump a few times per day. Fortunately, I get to breastfeed my baby since he is at daycare where I work – which is awesome.”

Her workplace is a huge advocate for breastfeeding and pumping and they even have a designated area for mothers.

Sonia’s boss is an integral, positive force in her day-to-day work life. She always stays on top of her to pump or nurse Rio and always encourages her to step away from her desk and focus on self-care when she has the chance. Although she’s so grateful for the workplace flexibility, Sonia does struggle with guilt about stepping away because she loves her job so much and doesn’t want to seem like she’s taking advantage of this generosity. 

She’s also dealing with the comedy and accidents of breastfeeding at work – like leaking during meetings and Rio throwing up on one of her supervisors!

How the YWCA Supports Women and Families

Since 1907, women’s empowerment has been at the heart of YWCA Asheville’s work. The organization’s original charter in 1897 was to provide safe housing for working women. Today, the YWCA combines a history of initiatives for women’s empowerment and advocacy for gender justice, for and with women, into transformative programs for women to change their lives and the lives of their families.

We believe that the empowerment of women should especially extend to the many women who work at our YWCA. That’s why we offer support to our nursing moms, like MotherLove Coordinator Sonia, in the form of time, space, and privacy to nurse or pump for their babies. We know that adequate child care is one of the biggest barriers to women’s economic empowerment, and so we are happy to know that many of our staff with young children, like Sonia, utilize our Early Learning Program for their child care needs.

The MotherLove Program

Sonia is the coordinator for MotherLove at the Asheville YWCA. The MotherLove program supports pregnant and parenting teens. They help teen parents achieve their goals of high school graduation, healthy pregnancy and birth, parenting skills, and delay of subsequent pregnancies through one on one support, home visits, lunch bunches, and evening groups.

For her position, Sonia has to pump so she can manage the everyday diversity of her schedule. Some days she’s doing home visits, meeting for one-on-one support with students, attending community meetings, or organizing events called ‘Lunch Bunches,’ which are gatherings at local high schools where students can receive a healthy lunch and hear info on parenting, healthy relationships and nurturing homes.

Her MotherLove Students

Sonia says it’s not just her teaching the girls. They teach her every day about what it means to be a mother and applauds their resilience to breastfeed, especially in tough spaces, like a high school. We focus so much on the constraints of pumping in the workplace, that we don’t even consider what pumping in the bathroom stall of a high school must be like, not to mention the social taboos it brings. When the girls hear about the benefits breastfeeding brings their baby, Sonia says they are committed to doing whatever they can to make it happen.

The Issue of Childcare

Getting into a good daycare is one of the biggest hurdles a modern mom can face. Fortunately, Sonia’s job at the YWCA provides a 5 star daycare on site. The YWCA’s Early Learning Program provides childcare for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years. Their program serves 50% voucher families and 50% private pay families. 

Sonia loves how they cook healthy meals from scratch and offer swimming lessons starting at 6 months. And, the best part is that Sonia gets to breastfeed Rio once or twice per day.