Pumping at Work
Warning!! Long post!
When I returned to work I was so apprehensive about whether or not I would be able to maintain my breastfeeding relationship with my then 3 month old daughter. I had read up on pumping while away, researched the best pumps and supplements to maintain milk production. Turns out my body knew exactly what it was doing to make the right amount of milk to keep my little bundle of joy nourished!
Here are my top 10 tips and links to products that I found so incredibly useful during the 12.5 months that I pumped (both at home and at work).
- First and most importantly, talk to your employer upon your return work about pumping and having a dedicated space to pump. The bathroom should not be suggested as an option, it is a sanitary space to express milk.
- “Schedule” your pumping times! This worked really well for me. I would pump according to the times that my daughter took a bottle at home. At three months, I was pumping every 3 hours which meant throughout my workday I had 30 minute recurring meetings scheduled at 9 AM, 12 PM and 3 PM. We had a reserved room & I would use that room to express milk.
- Find milk storage bags that work for you. I was a big fan of two kinds – first Kiinde mile storage bags and second was Lansinoh. I used Kiinde when I knew that I would be taking the milk home directly and adding it to my “freezer stash” and I used Lansinoh when I was traveling and needed to save space in my carry on milk container.
- Hands free pumping is awesome! I was a huge fan of hands free pumping because sometimes I either had to work or take calls while I was pumping. It wasn’t often, but often enough for me to know that I needed in some cases to have both of my hands free. Other times I wanted my hands free to do massage to increase my milk production for that pump. I love all of Dairy Fairy’s hands free pumping bras. They have a wide variety, but my favorite (and the most comfortable) was the Arden All-In-One Nursing Bra.
- Massage, massage, massage! Looking to maximize milk production during your pump. Try ‘hands on pumping!’ I was, in some cases, able to produce 1-2 oz more than my normal pump with hands on pumping. This video helped me tremendously!
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! The more fluids you get into your body, the easier it is for you to maintain your milk supply. I found that on days that I was drinking less water, my milk supply was meh, but on days that I drank lots of water I was a milk machine. I found that electrolytes did wonders for my milk production so I started out my morning with a large gatorade. I then sadly realized the error of my ways. Gatorade had so much sugar and calories, I was sabotaging any potential for postpartum weight loss with the amount of Gatorade I was consuming. I then switched to drink 2 liters of Smartwater while I was in the office – worked like a charm. If you’re a member of Costco, they have Smartwater (both sparkling & still) by the case.
- Keeping milk cold was a big deal for me, specifically because a few times during my pumping months I had to travel & I didn’t want my milk to spoil while I was away from my daughter. I could probably dedicate a whole post to traveling while nursing/pumping. Long story short, I found that I needed a few things to help make traveling with breast milk easier. I used an insulated styrofoam cooler and dry ice replacement. All things that can be purchased from Amazon & boy were they lifesavers.
- Lactation bites were my BFF. I loved making myself lactation bites, they were so tasty & gave me the extra little boost that I sometimes needed (especially around month 10 when I started to have my period again).
- Keep an extra set of pump parts at work – this will save you the headache of always having to remember to bring pump parts with you.
- Clean pump parts with pump cleaning wipes in between pumps. Typically I pumped, stuck my parts into a large zip lock bag & put them in the refrigerator. Keeping them cold means not having to sterilize until end of day.
The one thing that is incredibly important is that you don’t stress yourself too much. Trust your body, I promise you that it knows what to do once you get a nursing / pumping routine established! If you see a drop in your supply, don’t immediately assume that your nursing relationship is ending. Make sure you stay hydrated and try not to stress!
Pump on mamas!