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The Milk Memos: How Real Moms Learned to Mix Business with Babies-and How You Can, Too

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  584 ratings  ·  112 reviews
This one-of-a-kind guide to balancing motherhood and work is based on actual journals kept by a group of IBM women during their visits to the company's employee lactation room.

It all began when IBM manager Cate Colburn-Smith sat down in the company's employee lactation room, shed a few silent tears, and wrote the following on a paper towel: I'm a new mom and today is my
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 15th 2007 by TarcherPerigee (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  584 ratings  ·  112 reviews

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Nov 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
About a month ago, I saw a breakdown of breastfeeding duration by mothers' employment status and realized that it's totally normal that I'm the only mom I know right now who breastfeeds AND works full-time outside the home--only 11% of moms who work full-time make it to the recommended 12-month mark. ELEVEN PERCENT, people. So when I came across The Milk Memos, I was thrilled to have access to a breastfeeding support book that doesn't try to talk you out of working (cough The Womanly Art of Brea ...more
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A brutally realistic picture of life as a working mom. The focus of teh book is continuing to bresatfeed your baby once returning to the workforce, but it was also interesting to see how differently each woman handles returning to work, the pressures of work, being separated from their baby, fitting in pumping, and the change in their focus from work to family. You won't have any illusions that being a working mother is easy, but it is inspiring to hear about other women who did it and to try to ...more
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
Outdated, a bit boring and sappy in my opinion.
A strong three stars. It was fun and easy to read. I'm glad I read it well before returning to work (baby isn't even here yet) because I'm quite dreading the emotional aspect of going back to work and really anxious about logistical things. I thought the book was well organized and I'll likely be reading parts again as I return to work. Even though much of the information wasn't new, I appreciated how its presentation was geared toward working moms and I especially appreciated hearing about the ...more
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
This book was a nice complement to Work, Pump, Repeat and I really needed this as I am two weeks away from my first business trip. Traveling while pumping is probably the thing I am most nervous about as I try to breastfeed my little one for her first year. This book drove home the importance of community and support among women, especially when things get tough. Baby just woke up - looks like this review is done!
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
This book is a combination of journal entries from coworkers about babies & breastmilk and information about everything you may need to know about lactation and pumping at work. The journal entries were way too cheesy but the information was good. I would recommend this to anyone returning to work from maternity leave.
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Funny, informative and encouraging for any mom returning to work and learning to balance work and home life. Very encouraging and helpful for the mom that's committed to breastfeeding but overwhelmed when returning to work. ...more
Sep 15, 2020 rated it liked it
This book may not be 100% in my style (a little saccharine), fit to my situation (on my second, not first, go round as a pumping mom), or year (the back holding an adorable paper log for expressed milk counts, as no one had at that point imagined smartphones with apps for that purpose, far less bluetooth handsfree pumps coming on the market now.)

And at the same time none of that matters, because they identified a critical feeling— the isolation of being the working new mom in the office— slippin
Mar 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Had some very useful tips for pumping, working moms. Some of it was a little cheesy but it was quick to get through and helped me feel like maybe what I was experiencing wasn’t so strange.

They had different types of moms which helped me relate (there was one exclusive pumper) but I wish they had included a mom who maybe was excited sometimes to get out of the house and go to work? All of the women in the book absolutely loved nursing and hated being away at the office, but that felt a little co
Dec 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Pretty heavy-handed on breastmilk being the cure to all of life's problems, but otherwise good! ...more
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is really only relevant to a niche audience, but if you're in that audience (new moms going back to work) I highly recommend it. I really wish I'd had it before I started back a few weeks ago.

The book was inspired by a notebook left in the "lactation room" at IBM. Several moms used the notebook to communicate with other pumping moms, and Milk Memos was born as a result. The book not only answered many of the questions I had about the logistical side of pumping (How much? How often? Whe
Kelli Liszka
May 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must read before maternity leave ends

I'm typing this review during a middle of the night nursing session with my four-month-old, who just started daycare last week when I returned to work from maternity leave. Throughout leave, I had anxiety (and guilt) about returning to work. Luckily, I stumbled on a recommendation for this book in the comments section of one of the many "pumping and going back to work" articles that I read just in the nick of time.

While it is certainly spot-on for nursing mom
May 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
I fit the profile for this book exactly, but I wasn't that into it actually.

Fortunately for me I work for a great organization that has a nice lactation room and I have a very supportive office environment, so I have not faced half the problems these women did. And at least at this point, I haven't had to leave my baby with a stranger.

It's a super breezy book, one that you can easily skim and read the parts that you want. There are a lot of how to's in this book, most all of which I've read so
Feb 22, 2016 rated it liked it
The information was good and it made me feel less alone and anxious as my maternity leave ends...but the writing reminded me of a Babysitter's Club Book. (And not in a good way.) I understand the characters were based off many IBM moms, but something was off. I think I would have enjoyed going more in-depth with fewer characters. We had the exec career woman, the single mom, the "admin," the over supply, the under supply, one who pumped for a year, someone who stopped after a few months, the mom ...more
Apr 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a must read for all working and pumping moms. It promotes breastfeeding and what better way can it be done if not through mother-to-mother support?

I enjoyed reading the journal entries of the pumping moms working at IBM where they shared their breastfeeding, pumping and parenting wisdom. The journal entries are also interspersed with helpful tips and advice for other mothers re-entering the work force after having a baby. Though it is very informative, I cannot relate to it 100% because
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting, 2013
This is a great book for moms that are soon going to be saying goodbye to their maternity leave and returning to work. It mostly covers pumping issues at work, but it also discusses a wide range of topics that breatfeeding and pumping moms have to deal with, along with the emotional toil of leaving their children in someone else's hands.

The book is lifted from a series of notebooks kept in the lactation room at an IBM in Boulder, CO. Now that I'm back and working and pumping, so much of what th
Nov 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great breastfeeding book! This filled in a lot of the holes from LLLI's Womanly Art. It's unclear how much of the dialogue from the notebooks was verbatim, but it was cute. I'd love to have a group of women like that at work to commiserate with, but as it is, I'm lucky just to have a group of women (8 total in the entire company, and I'm the only one with a child under 10 years old). I especially appreciated the checklist of things to pack in my pump bag, and also the advice to give it three or ...more
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I honestly love this book! So relevant to working mothers, and written in laidback manner (not like a textbook!). Points presented are nothing new, but it's great to read on other people experience and how they support each other.

Reading this, I'm envious that IBM has such a flexible working programme, wish my company has that. But I guess I'm luckier in the sense that my working environment, colleagues and bosses are friendlier towards mothers. I love how they pointed out that mothers (as empl
Aug 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
A bit cheesy at times, and a few parts seemed forced or out-of-date, but this was exactly what I needed emotionally when I went back to work with my first. I'm re-reading it now as my second mat leave is almost over.

I'm lucky to work at a place that encourages and supports women (both philosophically, and with infrastructure/policy like multiple easily reservable mothers rooms) -- but even in this ideal situation, challenges are undeniable, and I identified wholeheartedly with this book.

Even t
Apr 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Working mothers who breastfeed
Shelves: parenting
This book gives a brutally realistic picture of what it is like for working mothers with babies. It's focus is on continuing to breastfeed your baby once you return to work, but the authors did a great job of showing how differently each woman handles returning to work, being separated from her child, and trying to juggle everything at once. One warning: This book may depress you or freak you out if you're a first time mom. But you won't have any illusions that being a working mother is easy. ...more
Jul 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: new moms back to work
Book on mixing breastfeeding with working based on a notebook left in the lactation room at IBM. (Businesses have lactation rooms? How cool is that!)

It didn't really teach me anything new about breastfeeding (except maybe how beer can increase milk production). What it did do is validate my feelings of guilt, frustration, loneliness, and pride as I continue to provide nourishment for my baby while I work.

As a result of this book, I've named my pump (Beulah) and am seriously considering starting
May 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, nesting
Last year, I only went into the storage closet at my work occasionally. Now, I spend about 40+ minutes in there daily pumping milk for my son. I am the only person that occupies my own little "pumping palace" so I don't have someone to write back and forth to. Luckily I had The Milk Memos to read instead. I appreciated that the book was warm and lighthearted but with plenty of tips and facts on breastfeeding, pumping and succeeding as a working mom. I'd definitely recommend it to any nursing mom ...more
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read with helpful tips and advice!

I am expecting my first child in a few months with plans of going back to work after 8 weeks of leave. This book has helped prepare me for the physical as well as emotional transition back to the workplace. I love that it's written with stories from several working moms. I had no idea what to expect and now I feel ready and confident that nursing, pumping and working full time can happen. I'll definitely reference it again when my baby is born.
Apr 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
I wish I had bought this right before I came back to work instead of three weeks into my return from maternity leave. It offers some great tips on pumping and milk, citing Kelly Mom and all of the other great expert sites. It also offers a lot of great commiseration in the forms of the stories that the mom's tell. I thought it was great without being too preachy about feeding and seemed to follow the thought that as long as you can manage to nurse, that's great for your kid. ...more
Sarah Maxwell
Oct 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Ahhh, yet another mommy book that I COULD NOT DEAL WITHOUT. These fantastic women from IBM gave their hearts and souls into being executives, new moms and wives all while juggling their breastpump, stilettos and laptops. I read every entry and referred to some again and again. I have given this book to all my mommy-friends who are at the end of their 8-12 week maternity leave. Gut laughs, tears of pain/sorrow and tears of joy were shed over this fabulous book. A MUST READ!
Dec 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Shelli by: Jen Lassalle
This was an easy, fun read for women thinking about returning to work while still pumping breastmilk for their babies. It really put into perspective the thoughts, feelings, conflicts, emotions, etc. that I might be facing in just a few short months. I can't wait to meet my sweet baby, but I hadn't really thought much about what it will be like to return to work. I appreciated the first-hand accounts from the women who started this journal. Thanks for the heads up! ...more
Jun 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Practical tips for new working moms

This is a helpful book for both pregnant career women and new moms returning to work. While the journal entries are pure fluff, they are interspersed with practical tips about pumping, childcare, weaning, etc. as well as some very interesting facts about breastfeeding. It also addresses the guilt and other emotions many new mothers feel when they return to work.
Feb 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Literal copies of notes passed back and forth between a group of mothers pumping daily in the lactation room (closet) at IBM interspersed with some additional knowledge and tips expanding upon the discussion topic, such as unsupportive bosses or daily milk production. Comes across a bit like reading a online forum. As a new mom returning to work this was not as helpful as I was hoping, but a quick read.
Jun 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Pregnant Women/Working & Pumping Moms
Shelves: parenting
I wish this had been out when I first returned to work. I think I've gone through most of the emotions, feelings and thoughts expressed in the book and discovered their tips/tricks through other sources. It's a quick, educational read for moms looking for how to mix bfing their child with working and the guilt that working can bring along with it. Highly recommend this! ...more
Jun 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Mothers/working mothers
Great book for moms who are returning to work after having a baby. A bunch of moms working for IBM keep a journal in their lactation room at IBM. They write to each other for comfort, support, commiseration about being a working/pumping/breastfeeding mom. Very realistic look at what that all feels like...
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