Prior to having Aiden, a breast pump was not something I ever thought about, never mind considered using. Now, almost nine months later, I sort of feel like a pumping expert. Of course, I’m not, but I have learned a lot along the way about what it means to be a pumping mom. Here are some tips and tricks for pumping success.
There is nothing easy about being a pumping mom, between office scrutiny and having to plan your day around leaving the office (if you don’t have a private office) for at least 15 minutes several times a day, at best it is inconvenient, and worst could cause a lot of stress or even put your job in jeopardy. Add in the amount of stuff you have to remember to take with you every day, and dealing with cleaning everything in between pumps, I totally understand, and appreciate, why mom’s stop once they go back to work.
There are some things you can do to make things a little easier.
- Get a cute pumping bag — This serves two purposes. One it could make it a little less obvious to the clueless people in the office what you are carrying around and two, if you must pump, you might as well treat yourself with something cute! I LOVE my Sarah Wells Pumping bag. This bag was made by a working, pumping mom and you can tell. There are two insulated compartments on the sides one for the pump and the other can hold an ice pack and your milk. If you work in an office where you don’t want to keep your milk in the shared refrigerator (or where there is no refrigerator) this is ideal. One compartment is larger than the other so it works with several different pumps. The main bag is roomy and can hold all of the stuff you need to bring to work, plus your pump parts. It is also easy to clean.
2. Have extra parts — It will be a lot easier if you keep as many of the parts as possible in your bag, that way, you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything. If you are fortunate enough to have a second pump, you could keep a whole set up at work in a desk drawer. It’s also a lot easier to clean if you have an extra set.
3. Speaking of parts, in between pumping sessions, don’t stress about cleaning them! You can keep them in a plastic bag and throw them in the refrigerator (or your bag, with an ice pack). The cold will keep bacteria from growing. Sarah Wells also has a Pumparoo bag which does the same thing.
4. To minimize the number of tiny bottles you need to bring to work, and to save space, bring two bottles to pump into and then combine the expressed milk in a mason jar. The added advantage to this is that the milk fat does not cling as much to a glass jar. One thing to keep in mind is that you can add fresh milk to cold milk, but not cold to fresh (you don’t want to heat up the milk) so as long as there is more cold than fresh milk you should be good.
5. Use coconut oil inside the shield to reduce friction and make pumping more comfortable. You could also try Pumpin’ Pals. Pumpin’ Pals are shields that a lot of mamas find more comfortable. They didn’t really work for me, but I know they do work for a lot of others — it’s definitely worth a try (they have a good return policy if they don’t work for you)!
6. When combining milk into bags or bottles at the end of the day, use the shields from your flanges as a funnel so you don’t lose any milk.
I try to minimize my time out of the office, so I had to come up with some creative ways to make sure I was pumping enough during the day. Here are some ideas:
- Pump in the car — At first the thought of pumping in the car was overwhelming, but it’s actually really easy — as long as you have a good hands free bra (I use the Rumina and love it) and a car adapter.
- Power pump — If you have a long commute, like me, you could do this one your way to/from work. If you can’t do it in the car, find a good time to do it at home, maybe before you go to bed. To power pump you leave your pump on for 20 minutes, off for 10, on for 10 off for 10 and then on for 10.
Check out the #LateNightNursingFeed (created by Lynzy and Co) I hosted for more ideas from mamas. Feel free to add your tips as well! Another great resource is the book Work, Pump, Repeat by Jessica Shortall.
Are you a working, pumping mama? What did you find worked best?