Pumping is the worst! You’re in the middle of work, trying to do a million things and then you realize you need to pump. It’s always at the most stressful time…
…So you quickly try to finish up and then excuse yourself to go pump. There are five people hanging out in the room you usually use and you don’t really feel like making a grand announcement and asking everyone to vacate. So you look for somewhere else, the bathroom? Not enough Purell to sanitize that. Supply closet? You drag a chair in there, lock the door, hope no one else has the key and start setting it all up. Then, of course, you notice that you left a piece at home, drying on the rack next to the sink.
While you’re trying to come up with another plan you hear your coworker calling you, reminding you about a meeting in 10 minutes. Sounds familiar?
Whatever calmness, love and bonding I felt when I started nursing, was gone when I started pumping during my shifts at work. But I want to be able to keep nursing and I want my children to benefit from the most incredible food that exists in the world, so I keep pumping. A few years ago, I decided to ask around and do some research so that I could make this very worthwhile effort a bit more manageable.
It really worked! I made a few small changes. And while pumping didn’t become something I loved to do, it became something I found worthwhile rather than being something I dreaded.
1. Keep the Equipment in the Fridge
I’m a nurse so time is a massive factor. I found that I could save at least five minutes each session by skipping the cleaning process. You do not need to clean all your pump pieces before or after each session. Instead, put the pieces in a Ziploc bag or an insulated lunch bag (if you don’t want people to see what’s in there) and place the whole bag in the fridge. You can then use the pieces as many times as you need that day and wash them just once in the evening. This also keeps things more hygienic than trying to clean all the pieces in some public sink when you’re short on time. I also found switching to this method kept the mold away because the pieces are always cold until they are properly cleaned. (Note this should not be done for a premature or medically fragile baby.)
2. More About That Insulated Lunch Bag
The insulated lunch bag is a great item to use in general, if not for the pieces, then definitely for the milk. It keeps everything from spoiling during your commute to and from work. You can find one in whatever size works for you. It’s also a bit more discreet in a shared refrigerator.
3. Have a Cover in Case
Bring along a nursing cover for those times you find yourself pumping in a less than ideal place.
4. Have an Extra
Keep an extra set of pieces at work in case you forget something at home. Or, keep an inexpensive hand pump at work in case of forgotten pieces or if you’re stuck in a room with an inconvenient outlet.
5. Convenient Sanitizing
Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer with your pumping stuff so you can clean your hands before you begin.
6. Be Inspired By Baby
If you have difficulty with letdown you can induce it by stimulating your senses. Look at a picture of your baby, watch a video of your baby, or even a piece of your baby’s clothing along that you can smell.
If you have the time, hand expressing for a few minutes immediately after finishing pumping will provide you with more milk. It also gives you more of the hind milk which keeps your baby full longer.
7. Pump Extra at Home
Somehow babies go through a whole lot more milk when they are out of the house. When I had my second baby, I began creating an additional pumping session in the evening. It takes me around 15 minutes each evening and helps me build up a bit of an extra stash of milk. Pick a time of day or night when your child takes a longer stretch between feedings. By consistently pumping at that hour, your body will learn to produce milk at that time and you can stockpile extra milk.
8. When Storing
Always label milk bags with name, date and amount, then freeze milk bags laying down flat to save on space in the freezer.