Here are some of my tips for pumping at work. Every workplace is different, but I hope at least some of these can help you!
Watch the video here!
Now Calvin and I sure have had our breastfeeding struggles, but thank God I have been blessed with an easy pumping experience. I have always had enough milk and respond well to the pump. I even had a bit of oversupply in my early days pumping.
First of all:
Do not skip pumping sessions! No matter how busy you are. No matter if you are feeling judged by coworkers. If you do it once, you could do it twice, and if you do it too much you will let it become a habit and your supply can suffer! I have to remind myself of this almost every day. Summertime is our busy season and it has been hard to return to work in the middle of it all.
My son is three months old and I pump three times each day at work for 15 minutes each (setup and cleanup add an extra five minutes to my sessions). I am away from him for 11-12 hours a day. I work Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. My supply is still holding up really well after being back to work for over a month now, I pump exactly what he's taking at Grandma's during the day, sometimes an ounce or two more. To me, it's really so cool how that works out! I feed him about an hour before I leave for work, then as soon as we get home most days.
MY WORK ENVIRONMENT
I work with a bunch of dudes, I am literally the only chick in the place. I think this both helps and hinders the whole pumping breast milk at work thing. On the one hand, they don't understand it really. They may think I use it as an excuse to take a break, when in reality it's necessary in order to keep my supply up and keep my breasts from being super uncomfortable. Also, probably for fear of the unknown, they don't really comment on it, they don't know much about it and they don't want to offend me.
I am also very lucky to work in the place I do. We have a fridge and a sink in our little kitchen area and we have a couple mostly unused offices in the back. And those assets really help in the pumping department.
MY MATERNITY LEAVE FREEZER SUPPLY
Even though I'm making almost the perfect amount of milk for him on the daily pumping at work, I did store up a nice little bit of milk in the freezer while on my 8 week maternity leave. However, looking back, I made a lot of first time breastfeeding and pumping mom mistakes in that time, so I'm not going to recommend exactly what I did, instead here's a more reasonable plan...
To build a little backup supply, I would recommend to pump right before bed, maybe an hour after he falls asleep (this helps with overnight engorgement too) and in the morning sometime (because you'll produce the most milk then, take advantage of it). The pumping session before bed was easy because my husband was home to help if my son got upset for some reason, he could comfort him and I could pump. The morning pumping was more of a challenge, the time would vary every day, but as long as it was sometime in the morning, I was happy with it.
EXAMPLE: Based on this little schedule... say you get 2 ounces per pumping session (very reasonable goal in my experience), that's 4 ounces per day, 28 ounces per week, 168 ounces in 6 weeks - that's 12 days worth of milk at the babysitter (based on Calvin's average 14 ounces per day with Grandma) and that's a great little head-start to make you less worried about not being able to keep up when you return to work!
WHAT'S IN MY PUMPING BAG?
Pump - duh.
Extra pump parts - I carry tubing (in case bad, bad mold appears! That's a big ole fear of mine) and extra membranes because they say those wear out the quickest.
Lanolin cream - I apply it before I pump for comfort.
Hands-free pumping bra - I find strapless works well, then you don't really have to do too much wardrobe modification.
Storage baggies - I used to use the up&up Target brand (they're nice and thick and feel very sturdy, double zip), but discovered the Lansinoh brand is actually cheaper (they feel thinner, but they have a fancy easy-pour feature, double zip too).
A fine tip sharpie - to write on the storage bags
Spare lids - in case you run out of baggies, you can just cap the bottle that you're pumping into. This has already come in handy
Cloth - to clean up any drips, protect your lap, wipe down shields, etc.
Re-usable nursing pads - just in case... maybe the pump breaks or you forget an important pump part at home and you gotta get through the day without your boobies leaking through your shirt, who knows?
Binky disinfecting wipes - just in case you drop something and get it dirty, forget your cleanup cloth, in a pinch, etc.
Find a room with a lock. Hopefully you have one at your workplace! It will really help you relax and not be so nervous.
Wear nursing appropriate clothes, like a nursing tank under your regular clothes, then you at least feel mostly covered when you're pumping.
Face away from the door if you can. Again, just in case! Helps you relax better.
Make yourself a door sign. Mine says "Please do not disturb... or else this will be mortifying for all parties involved." Perhaps the humor won't be respected in your workplace, but at mine, I think it lightens things up.
If you have trouble with relaxing enough for good let-down be sure to store many pictures and videos of your little one on your phone so you can view them while you're pumping. Videos are my favorites, especially the ones where he's making noises. I found relaxing was hard the first week or so, but it definitely gets easier.
CLEAN-UP & STORAGE
Store your bottles in the fridge between pumping sessions so you don't have to clean them after every time. The leftover milk inside stays good because it's refrigerated. Then I just rinse after my last pump of the day and actually clean them when I get home.
Store your milk inside another container so the weirdos you work with don't comment on it. (this goes back to the whole working with dudes thing, nobody has made any weird comments yet, but just to be safe...)
Let the pump go on high while you clean up everything. This way any moisture left in the tubing will dry right up and help prevent bad, bad mold!
Bring a burp cloth or old school cloth diaper for clean up. I lay this on my lap when I remove the shields and bottles, just in case there's a drip, it lands on the cloth, not my pants. I also use it to wipes the milk off the shields.
But keep in mind ladies - it's not as scary as it seems!
Thanks for reading!