As a full time working mom, I have to admit that in the beginning I never expected to still be able to provide breastmilk to my little one 8 1/2 months later. It has been tough. There have been several hiccups along the way (yes, I may or may not have cried when I spilt milk in the breakroom or sat there holding storage bags to the pumps while dripping all over my pants because I forgot to bring bottles). BUT I have made it this far and hope to continue until Sydney tranistions to cow’s milk. Plus I have been able to build up a small stockpile in the freezer. It has not been easy but for those of you that are going back to work full time or are currently working here are some of my tips and products that have worked for me along the way…
1. Do what you can the night before: Mornings in our house are frantic (seriously no matter how early we wake up). We try to have clothes laid out, the diaper bag packed and the pump pieces cleaned and on the drying rack. This helps in that I am not having to search the house for a shoe, bottle lid or breast pump piece at the last minute.
2. Be prepared: I always pack a dish towel or hand towel in my bag to put over my lap when I am pumping (as I mentioned before I have dripped milk on my pants)- in my experience this is all I have needed. However you could take this one step further and bring an extra pair of pants or change of clothes. Another product that I keep on hand at work is the Medela Pump & Save Breastmilk Bags. This is a valve and bag system that screws onto your actual pumping pieces and is perfect if you forget your bottles (as I have also done a time or two). I bring two sets of parts (valves, shields, bottles and other breast pump accessories) since I pump twice a day. Another piece of advice in being prepared is using disposible nursing pads. I like the Lansinoh brand of disposible nursing pads and wear them everyday to avoid an awkward moment of leaking at work. Lastly, a pumping bra makes things much easier.
3. Figure out a schedule: A schedule is good on several fronts…it keeps your body prepared, it keeps your baby on schedule and it helps with your work day. I pump three times a day, in the mornings right after I feed Sydney, around 10:30 am and again around 2:30 pm. Having these times set out in my day helps me to plan. If I know I have a meeting around one of the times or might have to work late, I can adjust accordingly.
4. Pick a pump that works for you: I use the Medela Pump in Style Advanced and have had no problems. It comes in a discrete black tote and is large enough for me to pack all the nessescary parts inside (again, I bring two sets of parts since I am pumping twice during the day). Something to consider when choosing a pump is where you will be pumping. Luckily my work provides a private room for nursing moms where I can plug it into the wall but if you do not have that ability a manual or battery powered pump may be a better option for you. You can always check out our breast pump buying guide for more about selecting the right pump for you.
5. Store milk safely: Will you have a refridgerator and or freezer where you can store your milk? Or will you need to pack a cooler to safely store it for the day? Also are you planning on using the milk you pumped that day or do you have a supply at home that you are building? All of those questions are good to answer inorder for you to determine what sort of products you will need. I typically freeze my milk. I bring the freezer storage bags with me and lay them flat in the freezer and a few times a week, I take them home.
6. Keep it clean: This is both for you and your pump accessories. Obviously washing your hands is ideal before pumping however there are the occasions where that is not achievable so I aways keep extra hand wipes in my bag for those such instances. As far as cleaning my pump pieces I love using the Medela Quick Clean Steam bags. I use these at home as well as work and they can be used up to 20 times. After you clean your pump parts you stick them in the bag with a little bit of water and put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes- great for busy moms on the go. Another option are the Medela Quick Clean wipes which can be great in a bind.
Even though I have been doing this for a while now I still feel like no expert but I definitly feel accomplished that I am able to provide breastmilk while being back at work…what tips or tricks have you stumbbled upon??
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