Pretty sure this will only be interesting to moms. Apologies to everyone else.
Michelle at Crazy Running Legs wrote a post a while back about pumping at work. It’s full of great advice from a mom of three who knows a thing or two about pumping at work. If you’ll be returning to work some time soon, plan to pump, and are looking for advice, you should definitely check that post out.
A little background:
My breastfeeding experience hasn’t been without challenges but H and I are doing really, really well now, and I have actually grown to enjoy nursing. I had to give up nursing on my left side because it just wasn’t working, and once I let that anxiety go things became easier. Fortunately I have a great supply on my right side so that hasn’t been an issue. I pump both sides but get much more from my right side than my left. I returned to week just over two weeks ago, so I pump during the work day and nurse morning and night. My long-term goal is to breastfeed for one year.
My pumping must-haves include:
- A quality pump: I use the Medela Pump in Style Advanced with the on-the-go tote, which comes with a small cooler and bottles for storing milk.
- Hands-free pumping bra: I have this one from Medela. Sure, it may look like a reject from a Madonna video but it’s worth it so you can get things done while pumping.
- Storage bags for the freezer: I use Medela pump & save breasmilk bags and I like them.
Also nice to have:
- Nursing tanks: I wear them under regular (non-nursing) shirts. My nursing tops are great for home but are a bit low cut for work (I wear scarves if I do wear them) and many have stains from spit up, so the tanks are great as they allow me to wear regular tops but are still convenient for pumping and for nursing when I get home. I have the Bravado nursing bra tank. I like it, but it’s pricey, so I may try this one from Target.
- Deep freezer: For storing frozen breast milk. My regular freezer filled quickly until every time I opened the door breast milk came flying out.
How it’s going:
As a first-time mom, I’m still adjusting to pumping at work, but I’m settling into a routine. At first I pumped six times a day (once in the morning before work, four times at work, and once at night) for a total of 22-24 ounces a day. Since H only eats about 8-10 ounces at day care, this was leaving me with a surplus. I decided to cut back a bit, so I dropped the pre-work pumping session. I still pump some nights if H has a smaller feeding before bed and my breast feels too full. Sometimes it’s just an extra ounce or two, other times it’s an additional five(!) ounces.
For my at-work pumping sessions, I started with pumping four times a day (9:00 am, 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm) for about 10-15 minutes each time. This would give me 16-18 ounces for the day. After the first week I missed a pumping session and got the same amount, so lately I’ve been pumping just three times a day. Why pump four times when you get the same result in three?
If I can continue to get this amount per day I am comfortable that it will be enough for H’s needs. I generally pump double what she eats in a day, so I bank that extra and add it to my deep freezer along with anything I pump over the weekend (I have 300+ ounces stored from my work surplus in addition to what I pumped over the summer).
See? I wasn’t kidding about my stocked freezer. That’s all breast milk. (The big bags on top are from when I first started pumping and didn’t know to freeze in smaller quantities. That’s a great tip – freeze in small quantities so that milk doesn’t get wasted. Once it’s thawed it has to be used within 24 hours (and I believe day cares in Connecticut have to use it within one hour). I freeze mostly in 2 and 3 ounce bags since that’s what H usually eats, and some 1 ounce bags in case she needs just a little something.)
If/when H starts to eat more (or during growth spurts) I can dip into my stash as needed, but hopefully my supply will adjust to accommodate that (and is she really likely to suddenly double what she eats?). Eventually I hope to donate my extra milk.
The pumping itself… well, it sucks. I can’t lie. There is nothing I enjoy about it, but I am fortunate that I have a supportive employer and a convenient place to pump (I have a private office with a lock, shades on the windows, and a fridge for storage). The only real inconvenience is cleaning the pump. There’s a bathroom near my office but the idea of washing my pump parts in the bathroom skeeves me out (is this just me?). So during the day I use Medela quick clean wipes, and at the end of the day I wash everything really well in the sink downstairs then use a Medela quick clean micro-steam bag to get them extra clean.
The cons of pumping at work are many, but for me, being able to continue to feed H in the best way that I can makes it totally worth it.
Working moms – Any advice to add?