Disclosure :: This post is part of a series for World Breastfeeding Week and is sponsored by Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital.
The Working Mom’s Guide to Breastfeeding and Pumping
Well, buckle up buttercup, because the breastfeeding game is about to change.
By making the decision to continue to breastfeed while working, you’re making a beautiful and awesome choice for your baby. It is true that whether breastfed or formula fed, they all end up eating old fries off the minivan floor (barf). However, it is universally known that breastfeeding is a great choice for your little guy or girl.
Make no mistake, it is hard. Most of our jobs are not set up to make pumping an easy thing to do. Luckily, I picked up a few tips and tricks over my year of pumping that magic milk. Hopefully, these tips will help you too!
Make a stash (within reason)
This is who I am. Give me a goal and I will achieve it, no matter the cost. This is not a great personality trait when it comes to pumping. I had it in my mind that I needed to squirrel away as much extra milk as I possibly could. I started pumping after nearly every feeding beginning at 2 weeks postpartum. That, dear friends, is how you ruin a maternity leave.
Picture this – cluster feeding a baby and then pumping for at least 15-20 minutes after each feeding. Someone or something was attached to my breasts for 75% of the day. I was miserable and exhausted. I did get a good stash and was able to give my little guy breast milk for almost a month after I stopped pumping, but at what expense? Take it from me. Get 2-3 days worth of extra milk and be done. You are a person who needs some time without a person or apparatus attached to them. You are not a dairy cow. Give yourself a break.
Get a good hands free bra
I’m not proud of this (well, maybe I am), but I did a ton off pumping and driving. One of my friends said that her husband saw me driving down the interstate pumping, talking on my Bluetooth phone and eating a sandwich. Every working woman knows that time is money. By needing to pump every 2 hours for at least 20-30minutes at a time, I would have added HOURS to my work day. That was something I was not willing to do. I was lucky to get 3 hand-me-down Signature hands-free pumping bras from Simple Wishes. These bad boys are game changers. My office is my car. I drive from house to house as a hospice social worker. These bras allowed me to pump during my drive time, documentation time or phone call time. There was no lost time during the day.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
This is a normal breastfeeding suggestion, but even more important for pumping while working. At home, I’m always better about drinking enough water. At work, not so much. I get busy and I forget. Becoming severely dehydrated can impact your milk supply. In my car/office, I always had 2 giant insulated water bottles. There are also some awesome water bottles that have time goals stamped on the bottle to help keep you motivated. You can find these on Etsy, though the majority tend to be plastic which I prefer to stay away from in favor of a glass option. Check out Uncommon Goods and Amazon for some great glass options. Along with hydration, make sure you eat. Mason jar salads or a big pack of snacks are great options. You’re fueling for 2, after all!
Use a planner
I stayed on an every 2 hour pumping plan throughout the entirety of breastfeeding. Overkill? Maybe. But, I do well with structure and routine. I am a BIG fan of a good planner – I’m always on the hunt for the best option! While it killed me to get this specific, I needed a planner that had the hour by hour breakdown. I needed to make sure that I fed my baby at breast right before work and then be ready to feed him at breast when I got finished my day. I “scheduled” my pumping time to make sure there wasn’t any face to face patient time when I should have been pumping that liquid gold! I would make phone calls or do paperwork while pumping. Sometimes I got “what’s that sound?” while on the phone, but just said “hmmm … that’s weird, I don’t hear anything” and went on my merry way.
Silence the haters
Breastfed, formula fed, exclusively pumping – everyone has their opinions. My father has a lovely and crass saying about opinions, but I won’t share that here. It is amazing to me that so many people have such strong opinions about what I should or should not be doing with my baby and my breasts. My husband was very supportive of my choices regarding breastfeeding … as he should. Unless you are offering your own breasts to make milk for my child, you can keep your opinions to yourself, please and thank you. There were so many people who would say things like “are you still doing that?” or “why don’t you give that up, the baby will be fine.”
Luckily, I’m like a dog with a bone when I have my mind made up, so I didn’t let that stop me. I politely said that this was what I was choosing for my son, but thank you for your concern. I have always wished that I was the type of woman who could tell rude people where to stick it, but alas, my southern manners always takes over. Instead, during at least 1 pumping session per day, I would read an inspirational book, listen to some pump me up music or call a friend or family member that would remind me of the superwoman that I am.
However long you decide to pump, congratulations! You didn’t have to, but you did.
You are a superwoman, and don’t ever forget it!