We’re approaching the end of my 2nd week back at work. It feels like it’s been at least 2 months already. I’ve been going a million miles a minute at work and at home. I know the pace will even out eventually, but for now, it’s all systems go all the time. Exhausting, but also a little exhilarating.
During these 2 weeks I’ve been pumping 4 times a day at work (and nursing Emmett in the morning, at bedtime, and once at night). Every 2-2.5 hours I am filling up my water cup, running to my pumping spot (at the kitchen counter at home, in a storage closet at work), hooking myself up, pumping for 15 minutes or so while I scroll through instagram or catch up on personal emails (usually while listening to One Bad Mother, a HILARIOUS podcast I’ve discovered to keep me entertained), and then running back to my computer to resume work. It’s inconvenient. And breaks up my work day in often frustrating ways. I’m trying to see these times as respites from a busy day, but right now it just feels like they are making me busier. Still, I’m giving it my very best shot.
Some people would probably argue that I don’t need to be pumping as often as I am. And they might be right. But as someone with consistently low milk supply, I just don’t think I could keep up if I dropped a pumping session. I’m currently averaging 3oz at every pumping session (double electric pumping, using a hands free bra, doing everything I can to eek out every drop) and Emmett is drinking 4oz at that same feeding time. Miraculously, I can use my bedtime pumping sessions to just about make up the difference, so he is getting almost all breastmilk at this point (except at HIS bedtime when I have to supplement with 2oz or formula to tank him up before bed, or by Thursday or Friday when I’m an ounce or two short for a daytime bottle). Over the weekend I’m exclusively nursing, so I save up my Friday pumped milk and the milk I pump at my bedtimes to give him the following Tuesday at daycare. So I’m not feeding the freezer, but I’m feeding my baby. And that’s what matters.
This milk reallocation system is working for us. Right now. I’m not convinced my supply is going to increase as his appetite does, but I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and see how long we can make this work.
Your tips about pumping at work were all super helpful. I’m still figuring out little tricks here and there, but I’ve mostly found a system that works for me. Since I know many, many other mamas are in the same position of having to pump and not necessarily knowing where to go for good info, I wanted to share another resource that I have found INVALUABLE the past few weeks.
Isis Parenting’s Online Pump Talk class. Back when I had Owen I attended a live Pump Talk class at my local Isis store (which was actually taught by my favorite lactation consultant and now real life friend, Nancy Holtzman). It was my first foray into the wonderful world of pumping, and I learned a TON about milk production and storage, how to get the most from my pump, etc. Even though I exclusively pumped for Owen for several months before deciding it was not the best option for us, and should be a pumping pro, I still felt like a refresher course was a good idea for me this time around. It WAS 3 years ago, after all, and as I’ve mentioned before I had a bit of PTSD when thinking about pumping again. The Pump Talk class helped me start fresh, with good habits, and even made pumping feel doable again.
The online class breaks up everything you need to know about pumping into small, bite-sized chunks (7-10 minute segments) so you can hear just what you need to hear when you need to hear it.
My #1 Pumping Aha Moment: You do not need to clean those darn pump parts after every pumping session in a day. Because at least for me, cleaning those stupid things was the worst part of it all. If you have access to a refrigerator you can store the assembled pump parts in there with plastic bags over the tops (I store mine in coffee mugs so they don’t tip over) for 24 hours. The cold temp inhibits bacterial growth. So I pump all day long and stick everything back in the ‘fridge. After my bedtime pumping session I wash (ok, to be honest, Benjamin washes everything) and steam clean them in a microwaveable bag so they are ready for the next day. At work when I don’t have convenient access to a refrigerator, I wipe the parts with pump wipes after each use and keep the milk in a cooler bag with freezer packs, then wash/steam clean at night.
Pump Talk also covers getting different flange sizes (turns out my fire hose and drippy faucet are dramatically different sizes, so I pump with one tiny and one large flange — I don’t even use the “standard” sized ones that came with my pump), using olive oil to lubricate your nipple (super helpful for those of us who are pumping every 2 hours!), and how to freeze milk to maximize freezer space (and what to do if your power goes out).
You’re going to have to check it out yourself for the other gems. Any other pumping tips that I’ve missed?
A huge thank you to Isis Parenting for letting me take the online Pump Talk class for free! I am SO glad they did, because between you and me, I probably wouldn’t have bothered taking it myself (no time, blah blah). But you know what? It’s probably the main reason I’m still pumping right now. Worth every penny. And minute.