It is often said that breast feeding is a full time job. But what’s a mom to do when she has to go back to her actual full time job? You obviously have options, and no judgment from me for the feeding route you take. But if you’ve chosen to ride it out in the front seat of the pump life then I’m right there with ya, Sis. I’ve recently started this journey for a second time and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. So, as a two-time, exclusively pumping champ (self-proclaimed) I’ve made it a lifestyle at this point and I’m here to share my favorite tips and tricks to get the most out of your pumping experience. So pack your pump bag (and a snack) and read on to learn how I milk it!
Make it Hands Free
A pumping bra is not an option…it’s a NECESSITY. I have three. I keep one in my pump bag, one for my usual spot on the couch, and one with really strong straps for when I need to stand and pump like getting ready in the morning or cooking. I giggle when remember the first few times I ever pumped and I actually sat there and held the flanges the entire time—rookie move. A good pumping bra allows you to sit or stand and still be able to work or eat or any other multitasking job your heart desires, like scrolling through Facebook, or writing this blog.
Pump in the Car
I think I’ve pumped well over 2,000 times (and counting) so far in my two years of being a Mom. In that time, I’ve learned that your commute is the best time for a pump session. You’re sitting down anyway and can’t be very productive while driving. Plus, in the car you don’t have to hold any babies so it really is a great way to knock out some pump time. Just get a cover, car adapter, and your trusty hands free pumping bra (or mobile pump of choice). I keep extra towels and sanitizer wipes for clean up and I usually camp out in a parking lot far away from others to set up/take off. I used to be concerned about what others might think as they drove by, but I like to treat it the same way I’d treat nursing my child—I’m simply feeding my baby, and I’m in my own car so please stop staring and drive, thanks.
Communicate Your Needs
Breast feeding is nothing to be ashamed of. And just because your baby is not attached to you doesn’t mean you have to be secretive about what you’re doing. Let anyone who might invade your space know what you’re doing and put up a sign for good measure. People know you just had a baby. They should understand your needs. Research your rights, and communicate early anything you feel you’ll need to get the job done. Most of the people I work with know what the sign means when it goes up, but I take a few extra precautions in case someone thinks that signs don’t pertain to them. So I still use my cover and even keep the cabinet door in front of me open as an extra screen which I imagine would buy me some time to yell, “READ THE SIGN!” in the event of any intruders. It’s only happened once, thankfully.
Keep it Clean
There are ways to keep things sanitary on the go. A sink is optimal, but if that’s not an option, sanitation wipes are great for when you’re in a hurry. So are microwave sanitation bags. If you’ve got access to a fridge you can pop your parts in a plastic bag and keep them in there to reuse as well. That’s my favorite option at work since my break times are limited, and it helps me to get a few extra minutes to myself. Although you may not want to wash a ton when you get home, extra parts are always an option too.
Speaking of parts
ALWAYS keep extra parts in your pump bag, especially the small ones that fall or get lost easily. My pump bag is loaded with extras and I always thank my over-prepared self when one rolls on the floor or out the car or down the drain. Anybody else get super clumsy after having children? A pump literally can’t work without those small, weird shaped parts. So keep them handy and love yourself when you’ve got extra.
Keep it Cool
Say it with me: Mini. Fridge.
Your milk needs refrigeration if you’ll be away a while. Nobody wants to stick their breast milk next to the no-ones-ever-gonna-use-them ketchup packets or other mysteriously forgotten items in the shared staff fridge at work…barf. If you don’t have a mini fridge for your own personal use I highly suggest it. On top of storing your milk and being able to pop your parts in there between pumps, you can keep some bottles of water stocked and maybe a little cold brew for an afternoon pick me up.
And Last But Not Least
Get your hands on extra pumps and adapters. I have at home pump with two wall adapters that sits at the couch most of the time and then moves to the bathroom for my morning pump while I’m getting ready. My second pump lives in my pump bag for work and car pumping sessions. I could probably live with just one, but having a second just takes one extra thing off of my list of things to pack every day. Let’s face it, as a working mom with babies in daycare that’s a l o n g list. If ya know, ya know.
The choice to pump comes with understanding that it will be extra work. For me, that choice is a no-brainer because it helps me to feel like I can still provide for my baby even when I’m not with her. Personally, it allows me cope with the working mom guilt that likes to creep up on me daily. And if I’m being really honest, I kind of love the fact that I get to lock myself away on a daily basis and feel slightly connected to my baby with no disruptions. So, if you’re a fellow pumping Mama, I commend you and I’m cheering you on to the womp womp womp beat of my pump. Pump on, Mama!