Today I said goodbye to pumping. After 11 months of pumping at work I am finally done! I'm so proud of myself for sticking it out and making it this far. I'll be honest there were times that I wasn't sure if I could do it. Was my supply dropping? Was the time spent away from my desk affecting my productivity? Were my coworkers annoyed that I was always in the Mothers' Room?
I can now say confidently that the answer to all of those questions was NO!
I have been extremely blessed to work for a company that not only supports pumping moms but encourages us. We have a Mothers' Room stocked with milk storage bags, pump wipes, lysol, hand sanitizer, lockers, a refrigerator, and much more. I know I wouldn't have made it without my coworkers' support (especially my boss Jeff and fellow pumping mom Stacye).
To celebration this milestone I thought it would be fitting to share some tips I've learned from the past 11 months. I hope these help and encourage the rest of you pumping moms to stick it out.
YOU CAN DO IT!
1. Communicate your schedule with your boss. As I mentioned before I've been blessed to have a boss who supported my pumping responsibility (that's what it is to me - my responsibility to my son). He always respected my time away from my desk and I respected his by communicating upfront when I would be unavailable. (We actually use a shared calendar for the Mothers' Room, I highly recommend doing that and setting up recurring meetings on your calendar so others know when you're busy.)
2. Buy extra parts! This tip definitely saved my sanity. One of the worst things about pumping is cleaning the various parts. Save yourself some time each night by purchasing some spares. I have the Medela Freestyle and rotate 6 sets of parts (I've built up my collection through these 11 months).
3. If pumping for a stash, lay storage bags flat to freeze. This will save much-needed freezer space. Seems so simple, right? Just make sure you buy reliable bags that won't leak when you thaw the milk. (I like the Target brand, they're sturdy and have two zippers.)
4. If pumping for tomorrow's feeding, pump directly into the bottle. Take any extra milk and freeze it to use another time. (This tip was from my fellow pumping mom Stacye. Thanks Stacye!)
5. Always have hand sanitizer, paper towels, and pump wipes handy. Pretty self-explanatory - be prepared!
6. Keep a pair of shorts in your bag. Random, I know. These shorts are for the days that you wear dresses without easy access. If you have to take your dress off, you better have something else to put on!
7. Buy a hands-free bra. I use the Medela brand but I'm sure other brands have similar ones. This bra is a life-saver. It really helps you take your mind off of the pump and just relax. (Look ma, no hands!)
8. Pump within the hour of when your baby eats. You MUST make sure that your schedule is very close to your baby's. Remember your body is supplying milk based on demand. If that demands drops when you're away from your baby you risk having your supply drop too. I know some moms can get away with pumping less frequently because they have an amazing supply but I'm not one of them.
9. Don't get caught up in the numbers. It's so difficult when you're pumping directly into a bottle to not worry about how much or how little you're getting out. Keep in mind that babies are much better at this than any pump. Also, as your baby gets older and starts eating solids your supply will drop naturally as he/she requires less milk from you. You will notice this when you pump - don't worry, stay the course! Just make sure you change your baby's bottle size based on how much you're pumping so you don't run out of milk.
10. You don't have to clean the parts after every session. This tip from Stacye saved my pumping life! I was literally taking each piece apart, drying them, then cleaning them after every session (at the time I was pumping 3 times a day). That was exhausting! Stacye informed me that I can actually keep everything together and just refrigerate them until the next session. Life saver!!! I wrap mine in paper towels and put them in the cooler with the milk and keep them in the fridge. Then at the end of the day (or end of the week depending on how lazy I feel) I wash them at home by hand and leave them out to dry. (I highly recommend not using your dishwasher since it can alter the size of your parts which can make them less effective.)
My hope is that these tips not only save your sanity and valuable time but that they also encourage you. A good friend once told me that "pumping mommas are warriors" and it's so true! (Thanks Meagan!) Please let me know if you have any questions or any tips to add.
P.S. - A great resource that helped me tremendously is Kelly Mom!