Pumping at Work (Otherwise Known as Crying Over Spilled Milk)

There’s nothing to make you feel more like a dramatic fool than crying over spilled milk, but when it’s breastmilk? Having recently spilled half a bottle of breastmilk at work, I say that’s legit.

There’s only two parts of Haines’ life that have stressful (except for that one time we went to the hospital): sleeping and eating. I felt strongly that I wanted to breastfeed so I’ve been lucky in that Haines latched on pretty well from the get go. Despite that we still spent the first couple days home in constant tears watching La Leche YouTube videos. The worst was being up in the middle of the night, the house dark around me save for the bathroom light shining into the hall, trying to get Haines to latch while everyone else slept. Babies are so tiny then and frail seeming. It was such an ordeal shifting him around my body into different positions until we could get settled. The first few weeks I was always hunched over, my breasts brought to his mouth, rather than the other way around. My shoulders lived up around my ears,  before my body finally unclenched.

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Almost five months later breastfeeding is certainly easier. I still don’t love it but it can be a nice reason to sit down and relax a few times a day. Pumping is not like this. It is not relaxing to grab my laptop twice a day at work (formerly three times a day) between meetings and set myself up in the health clinic. Once hooked up I force myself not to watch the milk drip into the bottles. I try not to count every ounce. If it’s not enough, should I make another trip to the health clinic? Do I have time to stay longer or do I have a meeting? Why is nothing coming out? Should I try to use the hand pump tonight once Haines goes to bed?

Haines turns five months on Sunday (Mother’s Day!) and has yet to have any formula. There’s a couple reasons for this:

  • I’ve super lucky and typically don’t have trouble producing milk.  I don’t believe there is any rhyme or reason to this.
  • I’m cheap. I really don’t want to have to buy formula. Just the idea of having to select a formula brings me anxiety, let alone the idea of paying for it. I have to travel without him in July so chances are he will have to be introduced at some point. I guess I’ll get over it.

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For those breastfeeding mamas preparing to go back to work there are several things you can do to make life easier. I would highly recommend the following:

  1. Start your stash. The breastfeeding class we went to before giving birth did not recommend a stash but I wish I had more of one. There’s no need to go crazy with it but once you’re ready to start integrating bottles, start pumping every day. On maternity leave I would feed Haines, wait 30 minutes or an hour and then pump. I find doing this early on in the day after the first feed is best. Night time is the only time we’d get a decent stretch without feeding so I’d be fuller in the morning. Well, or I’d be laying in a puddle of milk. This still happens. Don’t go crazy and safe guard your stash though! The stash is only worthwhile if you get to use it. Use it to have someone else feed your baby. Take a walk, go see a movie, take a nap and wave bye, bye baby!
  2.  Buy a hands free pumping bra. I’m a fan of this one. For some reason it didn’t occur to me that a bra like this would be necessary until a few days before I started work. Doesn’t everyone just hold their bottles to their breasts? No. They absolutely do not. This is pretty much the only way to work and pump. Actually it’s the only way to not hate pumping because you can be reading or flipping though Instagram.
  3. Definitely order your electric pump from your health insurance before it’s not covered under the ACA anymore. The electric pump makes life so much easier! I also recommend buying a hand pump. You can them for under $30, they fit easily into a large purse and are pretty easy to use. I bought the Philips Avent Manual Comfort Hand Pump. Whatever you do, buy it on Amazon. It’s way cheaper. I’ve found the hand pump is great for when I want to be away for the house for several hours but won’t be a place convenient for an electric pump (ex. coffee shop).
  4. When you prepare for pumping at work, keep in mind that this is a messy endeavor. In addition to your electric pump I recommend bringing:
    • 2 burp cloths- 1 to tuck into the bottom of your nursing bra to protect it and 1 for your lap. I just use cloth diapers as burp cloths.
    • Your hands free bra
    • A stash of disposable breast pads for when your pump time gets bumped back for a meeting
    • A wet bag– essential! Between pumps I keep my bottles in the bag and then place them in the fridge. This keeps me from having to wash them in between pumping. (*This is probably not at all recommended. I just think it’s a huge pain in the butt to wash them every time.) Either way it keeps the stuff that’s wet from getting milk on everything
    • A Nalgene- rather than taking storage bags or several bottles with me to work I pour my milk into a Nalgene. I cover it with a Freaker so that no one can see what inside when I keep it in our shared work fridge. Fun fact: your work fridge may be full of breast milk like mine.

 

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I must admit, I think because of breastfeeding I do end up with a lot more than my fair share of cuddles. I like that best of all.

 

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