Monday, June 30, 2008

Tips on pumping milk for working moms

Ugh. Pumping sucks! It has to be one of the least enjoyable parts of being a new mom. But, to me, the inconvenience of pumping at work is totally worth the benefits my baby gets from drinking breast milk. Here are some tricks I've come up with to make the process easier.

* If you can afford it, get an extra breast pump and keep one at work. It is so nice to not have to lug a pump to and from work everyday. I have two Medela Pump-in-Styles.

* I carry just the freezer bag to and from work every day. The freezer bag holds the ice pack, two bottles with two pump assemblies attached, and the bags of expressed milk. I keep the cones in a separate zip lock bag. After pumping, I use the Medela Breastpump Accessory Wipes to wipe the cones, whereas the bottles and assemblies are returned to the freezer bag. Not washing the pump assemblies between pumpings saves lots of time, yet it is still sanitary since they are kept cold between pumpings. I bring them home at the end of the day where they get washed and sterilized.

* I have three sets of cones, pump assemblies and bottles. My nanny does the bottle washing and sterilizing. Three sets is enough so that I can wait until she cleans them so that I don't have to ever wash them myself. Not that I'm against washing bottles myself, but it is one thing you can have your nanny do to save yourself time. If you take your kid to daycare, consider having 5 sets so that you can save all the washing and sterilizing for the weekend.

* I have the baby on a set schedule and I pump at the same time as he would be eating. This keeps my milk supply as consistent as possible, and makes weekend feedings easier since my milk supply is in sync with the baby.

* After pumping, I pour the milk into milk bags for storage. When pouring the milk, I know how much my baby takes at a feeding, and I store only that amount per bag. So, for instance, if my baby is eating 5oz per feed, and I pump 6 oz, I will pour 5 oz into one bag, and 1oz into another bag. Then, I can use that extra 1oz as a supplement for a time when I only pump 4oz. I think you end up with much less wasted milk this way, and are less likely to stress about times when you pump less than your baby eats. I like the Lansinoh milk bags because they are easy to write on and pour from, and have a double zip lock for leak-proof-ness. I keep a pen in my pump bag to label the bags immediately so that I don't forget.

* I use a larger size pump cone. I find it more comfortable and I get more milk that way. If you find pumping really uncomfortable, consider trying a larger size cone.

* I keep a burp cloth in my pump bag. I place it on my lap when I am pumping so that drips of milk don't mess up my outfit.

* I keep a water bottle in my office and make sure to drink one full bottle (12oz) of water every time I pump. Before I pump, I go to the restroom to wash my hands and fill up my water bottle. Then I drink the bottle of water as I pump. Keep a bottle of hand-sanitizer in your office for washing your hands on those times when you are really pressed for time.

* I use the Easy Expression Hands Free Bustier Nursing Bra so that I can type and catch up on email during my pumping sessions. Other people like to look at a picture of their baby and relax during their pumping sessions.

* I schedule my pumping time into my outlook calendar with a 15 min reminder. That way, I can finish up what I am doing, wrap up any meeting I am in, and make sure to pump on time. This also ensures that people don't try to schedule meetings with me when I am scheduled to pump so that I am sure to have this time free. Instead of labeling the pumping time with anything so obvious, I label it as "Xcorp conference call" where Xcorp is a made-up company name. I work in a very male-dominated field, and I think a lot of the guys I work with would be embarrassed if they knew I was pumping. A friend of mine works in a female-dominated field, and puts a cow magnet on her office door when she is pumping. I think it is so great that her colleagues are supportive of her pumping to the extent that it can be handled in such a light-hearted way, but it's just not the case where I work.

* My lactation consultant gave me some golden advice that has saved me tons of time. You only need to pump for 2 minutes past when your letdown has finished. If you are going to have another letdown, it will happen during that 2 min. I used to pump for a set amount of time. Most of that time was spent at the end with only little drops of milk coming out. It turns out that this not only is unnecessary, but puts extra wear and tear on your nipples.

* Breast pumps are good for only about 500 hours of operation. Then, the motor begins to wear out and no longer provides optimal suction. 500 hours is typically no more than 2 babies-worth. So, if you are on your third kid, you will want to get a new pump.

* Some insurance companies cover breast pumps. Check if yours does before purchasing it on your own. This can save you lots of $. You will just need either your OBGYN or your Pediatrician to write you a prescription.

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