Mamava Mama: Linda Drozdowicz, M.D.
Linda Drozdowicz, M.D. is a breastfeeding mom, physician, and a fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at Yale New Haven Hospital. Her work focuses on child psychiatry, but she also wants to spark national conversations about how to support breastfeeding women in the workplace, especially when they work in hospitals.
Pumping at work is hard... even when workplaces support moms
Drozdowicz started working at Yale New Haven Hospital as a physician shortly after having her baby. Her daily duties included rounding on psychiatric hospital patients, doing clinical consults in the pediatric hospital, teaching medical students, and sometimes taking call late into the night. The hospital has nine dedicated lactation spaces. Yet even with all those spaces, her schedule as a physician was unpredictable, making it difficult to travel to the dedicated lactation spaces at times. To solve her problem, she resorted to carrying around a “pumping” sign with her and ducked into random spaces throughout the day to pump. Supportive coworkers—many of whom had pumped for their own babies—would lend her their offices as needed, since she did not have her own office.
Own your strength as a working mom
When Drozdowicz returned to work after her maternity leave, coworkers warned her that being a working mom would mean feeling that you weren’t doing a good enough job at home or at work, particularly when having to pump every few hours. But then one of her mentors took her aside and said, “Nobody has their act together more than a mother who works. We need more of them in high positions!” Drozdowicz credits that conversation with helping her manage her expectations around balancing working and breastfeeding—and boosting her confidence in her ability to do so.
Take care of yourself
For Drozdowicz, and other breastfeeding moms who work in hospitals, the biggest obstacle to pumping is finding the time to do it. “We don’t have scheduled breaks,” says Drozdowicz. “There are now a lot more women in medicine, so there are a lot of pumping moms.” The culture in medicine emphasizes taking care of others, but breastfeeding moms need to learn to advocate for what they need and take care of themselves too.
Embrace the shades of gray
Working breastfeeding moms can face a barrage of advice—from friends, family members, coworkers—and a lot of pressure. “Everyone has an opinion, so it’s a guilt fest all the time,” says Drozdowicz. “It’s really important to understand that there are shades of gray to everything. Breastfeeding was great for me, but it’s not for all women.” As her son grew, she found her milk supply was not sufficient and she decided to supplement with formula. “My kid was huge! He needed more milk than I could make.” At the end of the day, Drozdowicz says that what matters most is that all women feel heard and supported in their feeding choices. “As a child psychiatrist, I know that a happy mother is more important to a baby’s health and future than the details of how that baby is fed. Supporting moms at work makes all the difference.”
Be sure to read Drozdowicz’s blog about traveling when you’re pumping!