I often consider myself as having three jobs. My first job is obviously being a mom. My second is my real world big girl job (I am in communications and IT at a public university, if you were wondering). My third job is pumping and breastfeeding!
Man oh man pumping, especially when working full-time, takes some dedication. In order to keep my supply up I do my best to pump 3 to 4 times a day at work (every three hours). Each pumping session is about 20 minutes and I still need to keep up on my job duties while fitting in those brakes. Thankfully we live in a time of electronic breast pumps and hands-free pumping bras. I am also very lucky in that I have my own office and a very supportive work environment.
Basically, I am able to pump whenever I need to and can continue to work while I pump because I work most of my day at a desk and my pumping bra keeps my hands free so I can type away!
Here is what my typical work day pumping/nursing schedule looks like:
- 5:15 am Pump Session 1 – This one usually takes about 45 minutes. Hank no longer needs to feed at night so by the time I wake up in the morning my breasts are pretty full and it takes awhile to completely empty them.
- 8:30 am pump Session 2 – 20 minutes at work; usually while I am drinking my coffee, going through emails and updating my to do list.
- 11:30 am Pump Session 3 – 20 minutes while working. I like to get this one in before lunch because I try to go to the gym during my lunch hour and going with full boobs is not something I would advise!!
- 2:30pm Pump Session 4 – 20 minutes at work.
- 4:30 pm Pump Session 5– tentative. 20 minutes at work but usually only if I know I won’t be going straight home from work, or if I will be staying late.
- Once I get home I usually nurse on demand until Hank goes to sleep; so that’s usually one or two nursing sessions per night.
Ultimately, that equates to around 6-7 pumping or nursing sessions per day. So, on average, that’s 2.5 hours of my already jam-packed day!
Seems a bit overwhelming right? It definitely can be; but with the right tools and mindset I promise you can do it! If you’re a mother on maternity leave preparing to go back to work and want to continue your breastfeeding or pumping journey, or if you’re a mom just getting burnt out with it all, here is a list of tips and tricks to help you out!
- Discuss your desire to pump with your employer ASAP. Before baby even comes if possible, or right when you return to work. Making sure you are all on the same page and that you are aware of the support and facilities your employer provides is critical. I found this Huffington Post article to be particularly helpful as I prepared to have this conversation with my employer.
- Invest in a good electric pump. Thankfully, a lot of insurance plans now cover breast pumps. I have an Ameda and a Medela, but have also heard good things about Spectra.
- Purchase a breast milk storage solution compatible with your pump. This should include bottles, bags, etc., for storing your milk. I have this one and love it.
- HANDS FREE PUMPING BRA. This is seriously one of my favorite things. It gives me the ability to pump hands free so that I can continue to work at my computer, read a book, drink my coffee, help my kids, etc. The one linked is great because it comes with a Velcro extender panel so that you can adjust the fit as your body changes after giving birth.
- Get a car adapter for your pump. This is convenient if you need to pump during trips, or on your commute.
- Put your used pump parts in a gallon-size Ziploc bag and keep them in your fridge so that you do not need to wash them after every use; then take them home at night to wash them.
- If you are able, get yourself a mini fridge to keep in your work-space.
- Make sure you have nursing pads on hand in case you have a busy workday and aren’t able to pump as often as you would like (I know this from experience).
- Keep extra pump parts at work in case you forget to bring some one day (also from experience).
- Use a cooler and ice packs when traveling home with your milk; especially if you aren’t heading straight home.
- Stay hydrated. Try to drink as much water throughout the workday as you can. If you are anything like me, as soon as you are home with your kids you completely forget about taking care of yourself. So I always try to get in a lot of water at work!
- Figure out a good way to notify your peers when you are pumping. I have a dry erase board on my office door and when I am pumping, I put a “P” on it in (to be a bit inconspicuous). This lets my coworkers know that while, yes I am pumping, they could still call my phone or instant message me if they have a question, and that I am in the office.
- Keep a spare nursing cover with you, just in case!
I promise you, just because you are returning to work your breastfeeding journey does NOT need to end. You are stronger than you know and you CAN do this. I am always here for moral support!