PLAINFIELD, Ind. (WISH)– Eighty percent of mothers start breastfeeding their babies at birth, according to the CDC, but many are stopping earlier than is recommended. There are a number of reasons why that may happen, but for moms who travel for their job the challenges are immense.
“Even though I do it every day, Monday through Friday, I will still forget something,” Stephanie Cole said while gathering her pumping supplies in her kitchen. “Definitely a checklist is needed.”
Cole lives in Plainfield, but travels all over the country for her work with cabinet manufacturer American Woodmark. She’s also a mom with five children between her and her husband, including a breast-feeding 8-month-old.
Like any traveling businessperson, she has a suitcase and work bag, but Cole has to back a lot of extra supplies for breastfeeding.
“Somewhere for milk storage, ice packs and all of that good stuff. And I’ll usually have a bag with me too for keeping pump parts clean, so they don’t get contaminated by just being in the car and then a bag for my pump,” Cole said.
Often Cole is gone just for the day, but at least once a week, she is gone overnight.
“One of the TSA people at the airport said, ‘Oh, you should have totally done this. You should have got with this company and they would have shipped it home for you.” This was as I had a giant cooler bag for a week-long meeting, you know, and you have all the milk I was bringing back,” Cole said. “That’s a great idea and I actually didn’t know about it.”
That company is called Milk Stork, founded in 2015 by a mom of three who was traveling for work while breastfeeding twins.
“So a four-day business trip meant I was going to have to pump two extra, extra gallons of milk before I left and and then I was going to have to pump around the clock while I was gone and try to fit it into a hotel mini fridge and then carry it all home,” Kate Torgersen said.
It was from that experience that she created Milk Stork. Her goal, to provide women with the supplies they need and the ability to either ship breast milk home overnight or carry it back with them.
Torgersen says it’s all about allowing women to take career opportunities without having to sacrifice breastfeeding.
“Those business trips become really difficult decisions and I always tell people it’s kind of the first step down a slippery slope of compromises and I’m just trying to make that first step a little harder down the slope,” Torgersen said.
Women can choose from difference size packages, depending on how much breast milk they’ll likely pump during a trip. Most breast-feeding moms will pump about 30 ounces or more a day, so it might be liters or even gallons needing to be kept cold in a car or airplane.
Now, some companies, like Indy-based Salesforce, are partnering with Milk Stork to provide the service for their traveling moms.
“I think that that’s a really great move towards women in the work place and feeling like they can do both,” Cole said. “You can be a really great mom. You can have your own personal goals for you and your family in terms of nursing. You know, I want to nurse for a year. I want to nurse for two years, whatever that may be and still be able to provide financially for your family.”