I recently saw a meme online that read, “Breastfeeding for one year is approximately 1800 hours. A full-time job with 3 weeks of vacation is 1,960 hours. Just a fun fact.” Since my pump measures the number of hours that it has been used, I decided to run my own numbers. I was especially curious because I have spent the majority of my breastfeeding journey relying on my pump—first for supplementing our nursing time, and eventually to replace traditional nursing when my baby ultimately decided not to latch.
My full-time job is 40 hours a week, or 2080 hours over 52 weeks. If you subtract three 40-hour weeks of vacation mentioned above, you get 1960 hours. My particular job gives me 124 hours of vacation, or roughly 3 weeks (sick time included), PLUS an additional five-day week near Christmas, seven federal holidays, and three additional days around Thanksgiving. SO, I get roughly 244 hours of vacation, meaning my total number of (contractual) hours worked each year is closer to 1836.
My baby is now almost 11 months old. At this time, I’m pumping around two hours a day, or three 40-minute sessions. The average pumping or breastfeeding session is 15-60 min, up to eight times a day, so my pumping time is still an average amount of breastfeeding time, although I had days in the past where I was pumping a total of three or four hours a day.
At the time of writing this, my baby is nine days away from 11 months old, or 40 days away from her first birthday (approximately 80 pumping hours at current pace). My pump reads 1669 hours and 44 min. At current pace, I will have pumped at least 1,750 hours by my baby’s first birthday, just under the amount predicted by the graphic I saw online, BUT…
This number does not include any of the time that I spent nursing my baby (about 20 min up to 8 times a day for 6 months), or another 487 hours so now my total is 2,237 hours. My total also does not account for researching breastfeeding in books or online or attending any breastfeeding classes, nursing moms’ gatherings, or lactation consultations that I attended for “professional development.” It doesn’t take into account any time spent organizing, thawing, or traveling to get supplemental breastmilk. It doesn’t account for any time spent washing bottles or packing my baby’s “lunchbox” for daycare (one might argue that you don’t get to count packing your lunch as on the clock hours anyway). It doesn’t count any hours that I spent giving my baby a bottle (probably a wash because my husband and daycare give most bottles while I am pumping, but I have probably still given her hundreds of bottles).
My breastfeeding journey over my baby’s first year will eclipse the number of contracted hours of my full-time job. Not only that, but it has taken me away from both my full-time job and my own baby and has dramatically changed the way that I spend time with friends, relatives, and especially my husband. Even moms who spend their work week with their children are pulled away from their work, family, friends, and their other children to nurse. Nursing is a demanding commitment and those who consider it a “free” investment often overlook the amount of a woman’s time and attention it takes to nurse a baby no matter how long she does it.
Let’s hear it for nursing moms!