The joys of pumping at work

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Before I started back to work last week, I scoured the web to find resources and articles about pumping.  Thinking about the logistics made my head spin.  How many times a day would I need to pump?  For how long would I need to pump?  What types of supplies would I need?  Would I feel uncomfortable popping out my boobs in a small room while at work?  Would pumping interfere with my work day?  Yadda, yadda, yadda. 

I found a few of helpful places that helped to point me in the right direction:

1.  KellyMom - Pumping & Employment:

2.  La Leche League - Pumping:

3.  Work & Pump -

Nothing could really have prepared me fully for the experience.  Granted I am only 1 1/2 weeks in, but I feel like I am sort of a pro at it now.  It honestly is not as hard as I thought it was going to be, but there are some tips I'd like to share that have helped to make my experience a little better.  I wish I could have heard these tips before I started so I figure that I may as well share them with you all. 

1.  It's the pump that counts.  Back when I was pregnant, I found out that insurance would cover a breast pump.  I was excited to knock that item off of the registry.  I was dead set on getting a Medela, since it seems to be the gold standard in the pumping world.  I was unsure on the actual pump to get.  My insurance fully covered the "Pump In Style Advanced".  When I went to pick it up, I found it to be quite heavy.  My daily commute to work includes up to 4 miles of walking, so I was worried about the heaviness.  I ended up getting the "Freestyle", which is the lighter version of the double electric pump.  It can be used away from the bag, which is something that the Freestyle can't do.  The cooler bag and ice pack that were included with the pump are awesome.  I freeze the pack at night and place the milk in there and in the fridge.  It is a good system.  I am so extremely glad that I got this pump.  It has been awesome so far.  I would STRONGLY recommend it to anyone who has to walk to work with the bag and doesn't want to be tired to the bag.

The Medela Freestyle

The cooler bag included with the pump
2.  Extra supplies are a MUST!  On Monday, I did a stupid thing and forgot bottle lids.  I realized it when I was pumping my first session.  Luckily, I had one extra lid from the previous week in the bag, so I didn't have to dump the session.  That would have killed me.  After pumping I headed to the drugstore to purchase some more milk storage bags (I have a bazillion at home).  I now keep the 1/2 the extra bags in my desk at work and the other 1/2 in the bag, just in case.  I also purchased a complete set of spare parts for the pump.  This will be helpful if something breaks and I need a backup, but also so that I always have a clean/dry set to use. 

3.  An emergency manual pump.  I have never used this, but I bought the Medela Harmony Manual Pump on Amazon for $40.  I am keeping it at my desk at work for emergency situations, like if I forget my pump at home or my electric pump malfunctions.  It is insurance that I am glad to have.

4.  Axillary pumping items.  I have the Medela Quick Clean Wipes, which I would strongly recommend.  You don't need water.  I clean the parts between my first 2 sessions at work and then put them into a clean gallon sized bag.  I have a bottle of hand sanitizer.  This is good after touching the gross community doorknobs.  Tissues/paper towels are also handy.  I seem to spill a lot and also I use the paper towels to quickly air dry the parts after wiping them down.  I keep extra breast pads and lanolin in the bag as well.  You never know when you might need one of those items.

Awesome Medela Quick Cleaning Wipes!
5.  I find that pumping at 8:30 AM, 12 PM, and 3 PM for 15 minutes at a time works for me.  I usually get the most out of the first session and less and less after each subsequent session.  I seem to get at least 4-5 oz at each session though.  Once I have even gotten 8.  Not sure what I ate that helped me produce that much!  I book the time in my Outlook calendar at work like a meeting so that no one schedules me for anything during those times.  Sometimes I go a little earlier or later depending on how my day is going.

6.  Start pumping one extra time a day before going back to work to build up a stash in the freezer.  I did this and I am so glad that I did.  I have over 100 oz in the freezer just in case.  I actually keep adding a little to it each day to the point where I am running out of freezer space!  I guess it is time for a deep freezer!

7.  Walking in and out of the "lactation room" (or "quiet room" as my company calls it) is awkward.  Being in the lactation room at all is awkward.  Waiting to use the lactation room is both tedious and annoying.  Today I ran into an issue where someone was parked in the room with the door locked for 45 minutes plus.  I am the only person pumping in my office right now, so the person that was in there was either taking a private phone call or taking a nap.  I was pretty infuriated and made a call to HR.  I asked for a sign-up sheet for the room, which I think is a reasonable idea, but I am not sure the idea will go anywhere.  For now I am left to fend for myself and I pray every time I go to pump that the door is open.

The dungeon (a.k.a. lactation room)
My view while pumping, very inspiring!
8.  Nursing clothing is underrated and over priced.  I only have a few dresses and tops that I can wear to work that are nursing friendly.  The rest of the days, I am forced to sit on my sweater (it is about 50 degrees F in my office, year round) and pull up my shirt or dress which sucks.  Nursing clothing is usually hideous and also quite expensive.  Deep v-neck shirts/dresses are my new b(r)e(a)st friends. 

9.  I don't use a hands free bra.  Well rather I didn't purchase one.  I seem to be able to do hands free with a regular nursing bra by leaving it clipped and just wedging the pump shields in there.  Once the section gets going, they stick on pretty well and I can surf the web on my iPhone.

10.  When I get home I fill up a pink bucket (that I was gifted at the hospital) with the Medela Quick Clean Breastmilk Removal Soap and hot water, let the parts soak for 5 minutes, rinse them, and dry them on the bottle rack.  Some people say the soap isn't worth it.  I beg to differ.  It leaves no residue and requires no scrubbing.  The bottles are squeaky clean. 

So in a nutshell, this is my life for 2 plus hours a day for the next 6 plus months (I hope).  It is tough and kid of a pain, but I am hoping that my hard work pays off.  I know that I appreciate the time that my mom spent breastfeeding me.  I hope little B feels the same way when he gets older! 

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3 Responses to “The joys of pumping at work”

  1. I haven't seen that Medela soap but I will for sure look into it. I usually pump one side and then the other so I am able to surf my phone.

  2. I didn't know Medela made soap, but I'll have to look for it. I'm sorry pumping at work is such a pain.

  3. Good on you for doing this, it sounds like a challenging endeavour. And how frustrating about the person hogging the room, so rude!