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Monday, December 28, 2015

the how-tos of pumping at work

It's been a long time since I've pumped at work... but this blog post idea has been in my blog queue for a while and I know I need to write it because SO many of you ask about how this works. Hope this helps!

I pumped at work for two years with two kids. It's hard work, but doable. You first should have a conversation with your boss and close colleagues to explain what you're doing, what you need, etc. Be realistic - you're there to work, so yes, they should support you, but you still need to get your job done. The biggest thing that helped me was I'd pump right before I left for work so that would extend the time into the work day that I'd need to pump again. I'd pump at lunch time so that didn't interfere with anything work-wise. I'd also get it down to a routine of 10-15 minutes. Once you figure out your system, you'll be better able to make this a quick process versus a long one.

You can do it! Do your best.

Some jobs, this doesn't work very easily. For some women, this stresses them out even more to juggle pumping at work and being away from baby. If it's not working, ask for help or suggestions from your boss, friends, etc. And then if it's still not working: THAT'S OK. You can stop when you are ready. I wish you luck!

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Here are a few things that worked for me:
  • cooler bag - Especially if you don't have a fridge easily accessible for you, having a cooler bag is helpful. This is also important for after you leave work and you need to pick up baby, run errands, etc. you don't want the milk getting warm during warmer months, so having ice packs is helpful. 
  • bring picture of your baby - you probably have these on your phone, so that's easy! Looking at baby helps! 
  • hands-free Medela nursing bra - This helped me TONS with pumping the second time around. I would hook up to this, be totally hands-free, so I could text or email and get caught up on work things from my desk. I would lose track of time and ended up pumping MORE this way!
  • use Dr. Brown's bottles - they fit the pump parts to pump right into the bottle instead of pumping into the Medela bottles and then pouring into a Brown's bottle. 
  • get a system down and stick to it - be routine, schedule it in your planner, make it known to your colleagues what timeframe you need to do this. This may take a little while before you figure it out... that's ok! 
  • rinse and then wash at home - After pumping at work I'd rinse out in the sink near my office, and then really wash good at home each night. It's easy and quick that way. A lot of women I know don't even rinse, they just put back into the cooler bag, in the fridge so it's cold and safe, then pump again... washing at home.
  • sign and cover the door- you'll want to find a secure place that you're comfortable in to pump. Make sure you have a sign or paper for the door so everyone knows not to disturb you. 
  • pack extras in your pump bag - so many times I forgot a cover to the bottles or a towel (that I'd put under my bra so nothing got on my work clothes while pumping). Make sure there are always an extra bottle, cover, etc. in the bag at all times so you're never without what you need. 
  • dress to NOT impress- yes, you have to dress nice for work, that's fine, but remember you can't wear the same dresses and things you did pre-pumping. You need to be able to easily lift your shirt to pump. Try on the outfit ahead of time and make sure it works for you. Wearing something easy to take on and off is part of making your system easier and a shorter process. 
  • drink up! - It's hard to do this at work, to keep the fluids coming in like you do at home. Pack already-filled water bottles, extras even, so that you cut down the time you need to run to the water fountain and fill them up. Make sure you're drinking so that the milk will flow easily later. 
  • keep snacking- this keeps your milk production improving, also, so just because you're working doesn't mean you don't need to stop and make sure you're taking in what you need to keep those calories up that you're burning while pumping. Keep healthy things at your desk - nuts, dried fruit, apples, cheese sticks, etc. 
Here are some great ideas from real moms like you, from the Mommy Stories Facebook group:
  • Put an event on your Outlook calendar that you share with colleagues, same time each day, schedule in your pumping time.
  • To remember to take home the milk cooler bag at the end of the day from the fridge, put your keys in there!
  • Use Medela ice packs- they last up to 24 hours.
  • Pictures on your phone of baby nursing from your perspective.
  • A baby blanket or clean diaper to help with the smell to trigger let down if needed.
  • Keep your pump supplies in the space you'll be pumping so you don't have to keep moving it back and forth to your office space.
  • Take baby to the work space where you'll be pumping 1-2 times before you go back to work so you're familiar with it.
  • Use a timer so you aren't going over your work break times.
  • Have two pumps - one that stays at work and one at home.
  • Car charger and a window sun screen! With nursing cover.
  • Put on Pandora to mentally check out from work.
  • Use Medela quick clean wipes in between sessions if you don't have time or aren't able to rinse under water.
  • Making the pumping time time for ME- reading, scrolling pictures or videos, snacking, music, etc. because it helped it be less of a pain to me.
You'll figure it out : Just keep pumping
It's pretty challenging to figure out a system for pumping at work the first week or so, but I guarantee you with some planning ahead and patience, you'll get into a quick routine that works for you and produces lots of good milk for your baby! Good luck!

One big tip: ASK OTHER MOMS for ideas, suggestions, tips and help! You aren't the only one who's been here before. Ask away!

Also, read the book The Milk Memos. It's my FAVORITE resource for pumping and working moms! Such a hilarious and good book about real moms who worked together in an office space and used the same work room to pump. Awesome book!

Happy pumping, ladies :)

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