Tag Archives: pumping

Supplies For Pumping At The Office

Going back to work as a nursing mom requires careful planning. You have to figure out a way to leave milk for your baby to eat while you’re away. Cue in the breast pump!

But it’s not just the pump – you need a whole host of supplies, too.

Pumping is just not as intuitive as breastfeeding, so I figured I would try to spell it out as much as possible for other working moms (& future me, in case I forget with the next kid!)

1499433744230

Now, this wouldn’t be a proper parenting post without a bunch of disclaimers: I am not a lactation consultant or a health professional. If any of these tips go against what a doctor is telling you, by all means please listen to the doctor! The views expressed here are my personal opinion. I have a ‘typical 9-5 type’ office job with cubicles & such. These supplies & tips are designed for that type of environment & might not work in other fields of work. I am using a Medela Pump In Style Advanced double electric pump & other Medela products. I am not receiving any compensation for recommending any of the below described products, they are just what I prefer to use. These supplies & tips are what’s currently working for me. If you feel uncomfortable with anything I’m describing, please don’t feel this is the only way. Feel free to leave me a comment & we can discuss!

Pumping at work requires A LOT of supplies. It’s different than pumping at home. For one thing, you can’t just be topless. Here’s what I use at work:

1493400535387

1. Double Electric Pump

This is really the only way to go at work, in my opinion. If you use a single pump it will take you twice as long. With my Medela Pump In Style Advanced, my 2 ‘on the clock’ pumping breaks take less than 20 minutes each: set up, pump for 12 minutes, break down. During my lunch break I usually pump around 20 minutes & get a little more. For me, 10 minutes is my absolute minimum to pump, but 12 is better.

BONUS TIP: Get a spare AC adapter plug. I have seen some tips online that say you should get 2 pumps if you can, one for work & one for home. I can totally see why because setting up and breaking down the pumping station at home & and at work is a pain in the ass. However, getting a spare plug is almost as good as getting another pump. I leave one permanently plugged in at my pumping area at home, and the other one stays permanently in my pumping bag for work (when not in use, of course). That way when I pump at home I just grab the pump out of my bag & the plug is ready & waiting for me on my little stool next to my glider.

2. Hands Free Pumping Bra

I could probably write a whole post just about this bra. I bought one of the Medela hands free bras & used it quite a bit during my maternity leave. When I first started pumping for Cupcake, I’d feed her on one side & pump from the other with this bra. This kind of only worked when she was really young – the older she got the more wiggly she got! Now this bra is a life saver at work. But at first I could NOT wrap my brain around how to use it without taking all my clothes off.

All of the photos you see on the packaging & online are women using them like this:

20170627_090615

So I’m supposed to undress, put on the bra, then put my blazer/sweater back on, & smile? Got it. *eye roll*

I know there are other styles of pumping bras, but I already owned this one. Plus I was afraid of the styles you can wear ‘all day’. Would a breastpad show under it? Would I leak like crazy without a pad? Too much drama.

A friend of mine had her baby 2 months before me & used the same bra, so I asked her how she does it. She said, “I just push everything up.”

So that’s what I did when I returned to work. I’m not about to show you a picture of what it looks like, but here’s my process: I lift my shirt, zip the hands-free bra around my waist, push the bra I’m wearing up, & life the hands-free bra up over my chest.

Some of you might be like, well duh!!! But let me tell you that as a pregnant woman & as a first time mom I could NOT figure that out without someone telling me. So I am telling you just in case 🙂 I have never tried using it with a dress – please let me know if you have!

3. Breastshields with Removable Flanges

Removable flanges are the key here – you cannot use the hands-free bra with the one piece shields.

I do think it is still good to have spare shields, even if they are the one piece kind. I use the one piece shields at home where I can sit back & watch TV, or when I’m only pumping one side. It’s no fun to have to hold 2 of those 3x a day at work.

4. Cooler with Ice Pack & Bottles

Medela has these cooler bags with an ice pack that is grooved specifically to hold 4 of the 5oz pumping bottles. I highly suggest getting this, or at least something comparable. The bottles fit snugly & don’t move around much in the cooler.

cooler_bag1_1024x1024

5. Nursing Cover

This is not essential, but the first few days of pumping at work I felt much calmer using a nursing cover. Just in case for some reason anyone burst through the door of my pumping room (no one ever has, thankfully!). It has also come in handy on a few occasions where I have done video chat with my daughter’s caregivers while pumping.

6. Swaddle Blanket

In my opinion, muslin swaddle blankets are the best tool to drape over your lap so you don’t splash milk on your work pants once you’re done pumping. These blankets are way less bulky than a towel, and if you grab one that your baby uses often it might even help you produce more milk by reminding you of/ smelling like your baby.

7. Gallon Storage Bag & 8. Mini Fridge

These 2 go hand-in-hand for me for an important reason: I, personally, do not wash my breastshields at work.

Let me explain. I wash & dry them at home & put them in a gallon storage bag. After I use them for my first pump at work, I put them back into the storage bag & stick it directly in the fridge. Then I just repeat the process the whole day (3 pumping sessions total for me). I do not rinse them – I don’t feel comfortable rinsing them in the communal kitchen & hell no am I going to rinse them in the bathroom. The shields go from a clean bag, to my body, back to the bag, & then to the fridge. Next time I pump, I grab my cooler & my storage bag, pump as normal, & put them away again in the fridge.

My job was kind enough to provide me with a fridge I could keep right at my cubicle. If in the future I have a job that does not do this, I will ask them if I can bring my own. It is really very helpful & most of my coworkers don’t even know I have it.

1499433540044

A mini  fridge is also great for storing breastmilk away from the communal fridge- no worrying about coworkers messing with your cooler in search of a snack! My job was kind enough to provide me with a fridge I could keep right at my cubicle. If in the future I have a job that does not do this, I will ask them if I can bring my own. It is really very helpful & most of my coworkers don’t even know I have it. Of course I also use it to store my personal lunch – if I don’t eat, the baby doesn’t eat!

9. Wipes/Paper Towels

This is for any accidental spills in the pumping area. I have splashed a few drops on the table a couple times & it helps to have something handy to clean up.

10. Headphones

With headphones, you can listen to music, make phone calls, or just keep yourself entertained watching YouTube videos! Pumping can get boring & distracting yourself is important. (Don’t watch the clock! Set a timer on your phone & then do something else!) I keep a pair of headphones in my pumping bag, even though I don’t use them very often.


So there you have my list of supplies for pumping at the office.

It’s hard work, but my little Cupcake is totally worth it ❤

1499436463672

Is your list different? Let me know!

Why Having A Freezer Stash Of Milk Before Returning To Work Is Important

My maternity leave was 12 weeks long – which isn’t very long at all! I started thinking about it being over even before it started. I knew that I wanted to breastfeed Cupcake for as long as possible & therefore would need to pump milk for her to eat while I was away from her.

BlurImage_5-5-2017-8-53-14

Having a freezer stash before returning to work is important for two reasons: baby needs to eat (duh!), & mama needs peace of mind.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lactation expert or health professional. The views expressed here are only my personal opinion & what worked for me. Nursing & parenting are not one-size-fits-all, so please do what is best for you & your family!

The first day back to work is stressful enough without having to worry about how your baby is going to eat on your second day back to work. If you have at least a week’s amount of food in the freezer you will feel a lot better. I know I did.

Some of the blogs/articles I read prior to returning to work say that you only really have to have a couple days’ worth of milk in the fridge/freezer before you go back to work. That’s technically true, since you will be pumping at work to replace the milk your baby drinks.

I personally wasn’t totally comfortable with that idea. I just kept thinking my baby would run out of milk or be hungry. Or that pumping wouldn’t work out well. My first day back at work was the first time I was away from my daughter for 10+ hours (8 hours of work, 1 hour of lunch, plus the commute). Sure I had left her with her grandparents a few time while I was on maternity leave, but never for more than like 4-5 hours. They’d ask me how often she eats & when she had to eat next & I would just say, “I don’t know, when she seems hungry just go ahead & feed her 4 oz.”

I wasn’t even totally sure about the 4 oz part – I only said that because I freeze milk in 4oz increments. When she’s with me she eats as much as she wants, whenever she wants, & it’s nearly impossible to tell how much she’s really eating. Only that she’s eating enough.

My first day at work I had no idea how much or how often she’d really eat. Every 3 hours? 4? While I didn’t love the uncertainty, I didn’t see it as a total negative. When I’m with her I 100% nurse on demand & never look to the clock before offering the boob. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now that I’ve been back to work for a while, I know that Cupcake usually eats three 4oz bottles while she’s away from me. So 1 week’s worth of milk is 60oz. I had about 80oz of milk in the freezer before I returned to work, which I knew would be enough.

There are lots of ways to go about building a freezer stash, but here’s what worked for me: I pumped at least once a day.

That’s it.

Now, I started pumping when Cupcake was 1 week old due to engorgement issues. Many moms do wait until nursing is well established, 3-4 weeks, before pumping & bottle feeding. My milk came in all at once on day 3. Cupcake actually lost too much weight her first week because I was so engorged she couldn’t latch properly. I met with a lactation nurse & we got pumping and feeding down pat. Thankfully Cupcake did not experience any nipple confusion, considering I started pumping & bottle feeding earlier than most. I’ve been very blessed that our breastfeeding relationship has gone smoothly after those first rocky weeks.

To build my stash, I didn’t try to pump 3-4 times a day or get on any kind of schedule or anything. Once Cupcake was feeding properly, I just made sure I pumped 1-3 ounces a day during my maternity leave. Some days I pumped more than others (whether it was more ounces, or more times), but not with the intention of purposely growing my stash. What I mean is that while I do think it’s important to build a stash, I didn’t stress about it. I built it slowly over my entire leave, only dipping in to it a handful of times before returning to work. Hey, date nights are important!

Having that much breastmilk in the freezer did wonders for my mental health returning back to work. Pumping is very different from nursing, especially when you’re at work. You have to get into a nursing mindset while being far away from your baby & using a loud mechanical device. If you’re too anxious about how many ounces you need to pump, this works against your body & you may pump less. Since I knew this before I returned to work, I tried to set myself up for success by having a nice freezer stash. That way if pumping took a little while to get the hang of, I could still give my baby breastmilk exclusively.

To this day I pump once a day, in the morning, & add that milk to my freezer stash (which now that we are using it to feed Cupcake while I’m at work is no where near 80oz!).

20170501_084630

The hard work of pumping is totally worth it!