Friday, February 8, 2013

The Working, Pumping Mom

For those who have experienced pumping and working, you know that it can be stressful, time consuming, and downright tedious. I love to nurse my son and I love my job, but pumping can be such a bear.  This is a typical day for me: Morning: Liam is awake, talking and yelling in his crib. I am down in the kitchen, making breakfast and lunch for both my husband and myself. Husband leaves for work as I am jumping in the shower. I think, I have plenty of time to get out, get dressed, get Liam dressed, and leave. Somehow for the next 45 minuets mother nature decides to speed up time. I am now running around the house, singing to Liam (so he knows I haven't completely disappeared) and grabbing my stuff I need for work, my pump parts, prepping his bottles, prepping his daycare bag, while at the same time getting myself dressed. Then I grab him, get him dressed, nurse him quickly and then while putting on his coat, hat, and gloves pray that he doesn't spit it all up in the car on the way to daycare.

Upon arriving to daycare, I have to juggle him, his bag and my keys. I get into the building, get him into his class room, scribble his last nap/feeding/diaper times on his daily log, put his bottles and fruit in the fridge, kiss him goodbye and run out the door. Now I am 10 minutes late... again.

On a good day I can get to work with 10-15 minutes to spare. I sneak a quick pump session in and then race down the hall to the room that I teach in. Two hours later, I am back in my office and back to pumping again. I usually do some grading, hold office hours and before I know it, its back to pumping again. I am then racing back down the hall to teach my afternoon class. Class is done and I am grabbing all my stuff (lunch bag, school/computer bag, pump bag) and heading down to my car.

Its a long day and by the time I pick him up from daycare, I still manage to get grading/answering emails done, dinner prepared, and spend some quality time with my husband by the time Liam goes to bed. All in the day of a working mom. 

 It seems like a lot of work and I can see why many moms don't continue to breastfeed once they start back at work. The USA has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates (with the exceptions of Ireland) and much of that is slightly due to the amount of maternity time allotted to the mother (I also think social acceptance, social support as well as available education on breastfeeding play key roles). If you take a look at the graph (provided by, the USA doesn't even have national paid maternity leave. I work at a private college and legally I am allowed 6 weeks of maternity leave, however unless I am paying disability (through a company such as geico), those 6 weeks are unpaid. This is why we planned for a summer baby. We just couldn't afford for me not to work.

I found these tips helped me continue to pump successfully at work:

1. Get a good quality double electric pump. Yes they are expensive but they will save you time in the long run. I can't tell you how many times I have pumped and answered the phone, while typing out an email and eating lunch.

2. Get a sports bra to hold your double pump. To piggy back off of the first tip, its important to get a special pumping bra to hold the flanges on you while leaving you hands free. I didn't want to buy one (there are many out there) so instead I made one myself. I cut two holes in a very tight, front zip, sports bra that my sister had given me. The front zip allows me to put it on quickly and then take it off during work over my clothes (I do not need to wear it all day). 

3. Get extra pump parts. This is key unless you want to be doing dishes every single day. I have 2-3 sets and even then, I find sometimes that I wish I could have a set left at work. If you are fortunate enough to have a sink in your pump station (I am not) then this is doable. 

4. Have a fridge or cooler in your pump station. Personally I think a fridge is better but not always feasible. I pump in my office and so I had my husband head out to the nearest Walmart and pick me up a small college style fridge. I can keep my snacks in there as well as my milk and it saves time (I don't have to walk down the hall to the community fridge). With the fridge you can keep your pump parts in there without having to wash them each time you pump. 

5. Store your milk in one large container. This was something I learned from another blog. Upon doing tons of research I found that you CAN mix cold and freshly pumped milk. I bought myself a rubbermaid 16oz container. When I pump, I will keep adding to the container and will bring that container home each day. I don't have to worry about fore/hind milk issues. 

6. If you freeze your milk, freeze them flat. This is something I wish someone had told me in the beginning  I use Lansinoh breast milk storage bags and I put 3-4oz in the bag. I do not want to put more (though it certainly holds more) due to faster thawing time, as well as the convenience of not defrosting more than I need. I lay them flat on a Tupperware lid (the plastic containers you get from your Chinese takeout are perfect) and once they are frozen, I can stack them on their side, by date. 

Have any more tips? Put them in the comments below!