Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pumping at Work

This is only my own reflection on breastfeeding and going back to work, everyone's choice is different.

One of my biggest struggles when going back to work with Jack was expressing breast milk for him to drink while I was at work.  I lived and learned from the experience with him and so far, I am feeling a bit more accomplished while trying to maintain breastfeeding with Christopher.  With Jack I was already supplementing with formula during the work week, but so far I am still "staying ahead" with the milk available for Christopher.  I still have things that I wish I would've done differently this time around, but baby steps right?  Here are the things that have helped me maintain my breast feeding relationship while at work:

1.  Get the hang of breastfeeding the baby first.
Make sure that the baby has a good latch and your supply is pretty well established before you pump.  (This of course goes out the window if you have a situation where your baby isn't able to nurse, i.e. he/she is in the NICU.)  I would also recommend seeing/talking to a lactation consultant when you start pumping before going back to work.  I think it would've saved me a lot of headaches when trying to figure things out with Jack.  I'm never eager to start pumping.  Pumping isn't exactly sunshine and cuddly puppies.  I willingly do it for my baby but I'm pretty indifferent to the actual process.  (By the way, when I've used my pump, it has never caused pain.)

2.  Having a good double electric pump... like every other online resource says.
Personally, I love my Ameda Purely Yours pump.  It has a closed system pump that prevents any milk from going into tubes and possibly into the motor of the pump.  I don't know how big of an issue it is for those who might use a Medela pump, but personally it was a big enough complaint that showed up in my research for me to go with the Ameda.  Plus, the most expensive Ameda breast pump package (including a bag, etc.) is the same price as the least expensive option from Medela on Babies R Us' website.  I bought my pump in 2009 (before Jack was born) and it still works just fine.  The bag is in great shape, granted I really don't use/abuse it too much.  The markings on the outside of the bottles are a little worn, but that isn't a big deal.

3.  Start pumping before your return to work.
Now this all depends on how much time you are able to take off work for maternity leave.  With Jack I took 8 1/2 weeks out of medical necessity, with Christopher I was able to take 11 weeks off.  Do I think that extra time did much for my supply or nursing relationship with Christopher?  Not really, I think it helped me more by having extra time to build my freezer stash.  With Jack, I didn't do that great about pumping routinely before going back to work and I was convinced to do better with Christopher.  Do you know how hard it is to pump with a 2 year old and a newborn when you're home by yourself?  Yeah, during the day didn't work for me.  I had to pump when Matt was home and the most convenient time ended up being around 10 p.m..  I thought I'd pump every night and build my freezer stash, it ended up being more like 4-5 nights a week because I was tired!  I started when Christopher was about 3 weeks old adding a pumping session (not replacing a nursing session).  That was still much better than what I did with Jack.

4.  Having a [nice] place to pump at work.
I know this isn't easy for everyone, but hopefully companies are becoming more breast pump friendly.  I am very lucky that my employer has a lactation room in the 2 main buildings on our "campus".  There might even be more of which I am unaware.  I mention that I have this wonderful lactation room (complete with a sink, fridge, mini-lockers, and even a microwave to heat up lunch or a snack), but honestly I usually end up pumping in the bathroom in my building.  Now before you get all grossed out, let me explain that it is a "single-seater" with a lock on the door, a huge counter, and a sink.  And there are only 3 other women in the building.  I'm busy at work and while I absolutely don't feel guilty taking the time to pump, honestly it is sometimes hard to stop & start in the middle of a task at work.

5.  Add a pumping session in the evening or on the weekend.
Some days pumping results in more milk to store than others.  If I haven't pumped the same amount that Christopher normally eats (note: normally not on a day that he might eat more than average), I will try to pump again that night, or once or twice over the next weekend.  This has helped me stay ahead of the curve for the supply he needs each day.

1 comment:

  1. Way to go momma! This hits super close to home as I just weaned Eli after 10.5 months and have one more week of BM in the freezer. You helped me so much to get started when I asked for help in September. I too learned a fe things I'll do differently for the next baby but overall had a wonderful experience BF Eli. I'm quite proud to be a working mom who BF her baby for almost 11 months!