I didn’t want to work and pump.
Before I got pregnant I always said that I would not breastfeed. So I wasn’t concerned with the nuances of pumping and working. I didn’t know that I would work and pump too.
I know that sounds crazy coming from someone in healthcare. I didn’t have any real reason not to. I’d just heard that breastfeeding made you have saggy boobs. Who wants saggy boobs? I didn’t!
Then, I got pregnant and everything I said before went out the window. I was determined to breastfeed my baby.
I had no idea what a commitment that would be for a working mom. As the days approached for me to return to work, I became anxious.
I wasn’t prepared for the commitment.
Our norm was snuggling and nursing on demand throughout the day. Now, I was going to have to work and pump! I wasn’t prepared for the pumping life. 3 days before going back to work and the pump was still in the box!
I wanted to be able to pump enough milk to sustain my daughter while I was at work. At the same time, I wanted to be able to continue our nursing journey when we were together.
I didn’t know what to expect but I knew I wanted to be successful. So I came up with a plan and you should too.
I needed a plan.
1. Know your rights.
My job is very demanding and fast paced. We usually get a 15 minute break in the morning and a 30 minute break for lunch. The problem is that we rely on someone else to give us a break. So I never know when my break will be. In the normal world that’s not a problem. In the pumping world that’s problematic.
The United States Department of Labor requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express milk whenever milk needs to be expressed.
My colleagues were and are very understanding of my pumping needs. I’ve never had an issue with getting a break to pump.
Before returning to work, familiarize yourself with the rules, so you can work and pump.
2. Get a pumping bra
I’m always eating while pumping at work. This would be impossible to do if I couldn’t be hands free.
There are several brands of pump bras but this is the one I personally use.
It also allows me to pump while I’m driving. Which brings me to my next point.
3. Get a car adapter for your breast pump
Driving while pumping is legal in all states as long as it is done hands free.
I pump on the way to work every morning. I also pump on the way home. These additional pump sessions removes the production pressure. I’m constantly looking at the volume of milk I’ve pumped. Pumping at home with the baby is impossible. When we are together, she expects to be able to nurse. The afternoon pump session in the car is necessary to have enough milk for the next day.
4. Get a Pump Bag
I know, no one wants to carry another bag. I promise it will make your life so much easier!
There were several things I considered when picking a bag.
I wanted the bag to be discreet and stylish. I didn’t need everyone knowing what I was carrying. I’m not embarrassed, just private.
Functionality was also important. I wanted to not only be able to store the pump but have easy access to it as well. I needed a compartment to store my cooler for my milk. A space was also necessary to keep my pump parts. I also keep a set of spare pump parts and cleaning supplies.
I decided to go with the Bananafish Madison Electric Breast Pump Backpack. I had to customize it to fit my needs, but I love it.
5. Have a cooler and Ice Pack
We have a refrigerator at work where everyone keeps their lunch. I did not want to store my breast milk there too.
I have a little cooler and an ice pack that fit in my pump bag. It keeps my milk cold for at least 12 hours. it also works well to keep milk cold while traveling.
6. Have a freezer stash
There are some people who don’t believe in having freezer stashes. I am not one of them! I was always fearful of falling short on my pumping sessions. Then what would my baby have to drink the next day?
Kenz’s first week of daycare she drank 4 4 oz bottles. I was only pumping 14 oz a day at work. The rule of thumb is to leave 1-1.5 oz per hour that you are away from baby. I was very concerned that I was not going to be able to keep up with her. The daycare was well versed on pace feeding. I think she just needed to adjust to a new environment. The next week she was back to taking 3.5 oz bottles.
My supply also decreased after being at work a couple of months. I went from pumping 14 oz to pumping 12 oz. I was a little stressed by this. I had to use my freezer stash to make up the difference. Eventually I was able to get my supply back to where it was.
Breastfeeding/Pumping and working has been very challenging.
Originally I thought I’d only do this for 6 months. Here we are almost a year in and still going strong.
What has helped me the most is maintaining a pump routine. I try not to let more than 3 hours go by without me pumping for at least 10-20 minutes. I replace pump parts regularly. I stay hydrated and try to remember to eat!
What have you found helpful in maintaining your pumping journey?
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