I happen to be a full-time working mom. I breastfeed my son (who is currently 8 months old) and he gets bottles of breast milk while I’m away. This means I have to get my pump on at work. I also pumped at work with my daughter who is now 5 years old, so this isn’t my first rodeo. The following is what works for me, but if I can help another momma out with some tips, then I’ll be happy! So here are some tips coming from a working, pumping mom who has done this more than once!
- Build your freezer stash! I can’t emphasize this enough. Although this step starts before you go back to work, while you’re on maternity leave. It’s really hard finding time to pump, especially if your little one is ALWAYS on the boob like my two were in the beginning. But trust me when I say you will thank yourself later for doing it when you can. I really would suggest pumping once a day if you can just to stash it in the freezer. You can pump directly into bags, or you can pump into bottles and pour them into storage bags. Amazon has some great deals on these storage bags, these are some of my favorites: Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags Even if you think you will never use this milk—oh yes, you will. And you will use it faster than you ever dreamed of.
- It’s all about the prep – the night before work! This is a MUST do for me. Whether you’re a clean freak or not, you’ve got to be particular about how you clean your pump parts. They’ve gotta be clean. And unfortunately, washing your pump parts (thoroughly) does take some time. I don’t have time for that before work. AND I like to let my parts soak a bit before I wash them. I’ve found that it gets more residue out of smaller areas that you can’t seem to reach while cleaning. And it makes the cleaning much easier. When I get home from work, I run the hottest water that I can in the sink with some dish soap and then throw the parts in. I give them at least ten minutes to soak before I start the scrubbing. And a good brush is important to scrub with too. I prefer not to use anything spongy, but if you do, just make sure you replace it often so it doesn’t harbor bacteria. (Sponges are notorious for that). I love this one because it has a small detail brush built right into the base: Munchkin Deluxe Bottle BrushOnce you’re finished cleaning, let them air dry on a clean towel. Most pump parts are also dishwasher safe (make sure you check!) but I like to hand wash mine. I’m just terrified of the plastic getting warped.
- Set yourself up for a quicker session by assembling! One great way to lessen your pump time a little bit and make sure you have all of your needed parts are to assemble everything beforehand. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to work and then realized I forgot some of the little pieces that I needed, or a bottle, etc. It’s terrible. It just makes your life a whole lot easier if you KNOW that you have everything that you need. I’m not gonna lie—there are plenty of days where I’m in a hurry in the morning and I just throw everything in my pump bag and hope for the best. But the days where I’m actually on top of it are much more relaxing when I know I have what I need when I need it. My advice? In the morning (after you’ve let you parts air dry), take a couple of minutes to put everything together. If you still have a few water droplets on parts, use a clean paper towel and pat them down. Then, start assembling. Go ahead and attach your valves, membranes, breast shields, and even the bottles—all of your parts. It’s the best way to know that you have everything you need. And it saves you a little time when you’re ready to pump since you’ll have everything together already. The only thing I don’t do is attach the tubes to the pump. Just make sure you always have your tubes and pump in the bag, of course! Also MAKE SURE you have all the lids and the caps that you need for the bottles once you’re finished pumping. Since you can’t assemble those ahead of time, it’s more likely to be something left behind. So do yourself a favor when you are washing your pump parts: Go ahead and grab some and throw them in your bag before you start. And put some extra in there. Because on extra tired mornings you’ll realize when you aren’t fully awake that you suddenly can’t count. Then you’re in a pickle later. Always throw in extra!
- Spend the money. Buy the extra parts. If you’re not sure that you’re going to be pumping for long for some reason, then maybe you won’t find it to be worth getting extra parts right away. However, by the time you are finished with maternity leave, you’ve more than likely figured out how things are going to go down. So I cannot emphasize it enough—just go ahead and buy at least one extra set of parts. It’s really not much money in the longrun and you’re going to use them every single day. So just make your life a little easier because, let’s face it, nothing is very easy now. Just do this for yourself. You can thank me later. Seriously though, I would at least have two sets of parts on you at all times, and I think most pumps come with that now. And if your set comes with multiple breast shields but they’re all different sizes, then make sure you buy extra shields that fit you well. Don’t just try to make due with whatever sizes you have on you. Honestly, it can be very uncomfortable if they are too small. And if they are too big then you might not properly be able to extract the milk. You want to be comfortable and efficient. So make sure you have several of the right size. And if you are able to thoroughly clean your pump parts at work and don’t really need to bring them home, then I’d highly suggest just keeping a set at work if you have an area for that. The easier the access, the better. I personally take mine home and clean them every night there. And I sanitize them once or maybe twice a week by boiling them. A great way to do this at work are with the reusable sanitizing bags. I keep a stash of them in my desk drawer. They work great and you can pop them in the microwave. Easy peasy. Plus you can use most bags up to 20 times each, so that’s a win for sure. These are the ones that I use: Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags
- Bring a backup. I’ve said this a lot. But this, too, needs to be emphasized. Bring a backup. It might sound pointless or like an extra waste of money, but honestly, it doesn’t cost much. And if you have a pump-mergency, then you will be thrilled that you did. I had and Ameda Purely Yours pump that I used for my daughter a few years ago. It actually came with a manual pump converter in it. You can buy it separately here: Ameda One Hand Breast Pump That’s the one that I use today. It gets the job done, and let me tell you, I have used it a lot. I’ve actually broken a pump part on my electric pump to where I couldn’t use it. None of the stores had any and I had to wait to get it shipped! And one time I forgot a couple of parts at home and I couldn’t pump with the electric one. I was thrilled that I had a backup. It’s more work to manually extract of course, but when you’re desperate, you’ll make it work! Now that my son is older and slowly starting to wean, I also use the manual pump a lot at night. IF there are nights when he actually sleeps and I wake up feeling uncomfortably full but I don’t need a full pump session, then I just pump enough to feel better and go back to sleep. (I’m not one for night pumping). Pretty simple and better than dragging out everything when there’s no real need.
So there you have it, mommas! Those are my top 5 tips for making your lives easier while pumping at work. Did I leave anything out? What are your tips and tricks?
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