Pumping at Work: 10 Tips for Success

Pumping at work can be so daunting and can discourage a breastfeeding mother retuning to work, from continuing her and her baby’s breastfeeding journey.

I’ve compiled a list of tips that helped me successfully breastfeed for 15 months, even after returning to work 12 weeks postpartum.

I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Pumping at Work: 10 Tips for Success

1.  Don’t be afraid of formula.

My baby’s caregiver always had formula as a back up.  It really took the pressure off me because some days I just didn’t pump enough or baby was really hungry.  The caregiver knew to always use the pumped milk before using formula.  And my baby had had formula prior to my return to work, so he was accustomed to it.

2. I recommend having a Medela Pump.

I have this one.  The book bag makes everything easily accessible. Medea also has a car adapter.  When I first retuned to work I was using a Lansinoh pump, after I switched to Medela, I was pumping more, and had a much easier time lugging everything around.

3. Consider pumping in the car.

I had a 30 minute commute, so I would often pump in the car, after I made the switch to the Medela pump.  I purchased their car adapter, and used this pumping bra to remain hands free.  This nursing cover helped me cover up everything without interfering with my seatbelt. The extra pumping helped me increase my supply too.

4. Use a small cooler.

I purchased this small cooler because it looked more like a lunch box than a cooler.  I kept it in the fridge at work, but it also kept everything cold on days that I kept it with me instead.

5. Use the Medela Ice Pack.

I used this Medela Ice Pack.  I recommend having two of these in case you forget to refreeze it one day. It fits perfectly between the bottles, not taking up extra space.  It is also dishwasher safe!

6. Use one set of pump parts a day.

You do not need new pump parts each time you pump during the day.  All you need to do is keep your pump parts cold.  My cooler had two pumping bottles, and two spare bottles in it each day.

7. Pump into the bottles your baby uses.

Unfortunately, this didn’t work for me, and may not for you either, but there is a way around it. I was using a Medela pump, but my baby used Lansinoh bottles.  My cooler had two capped Lansinoh bottles, and two Medela bottles topped with the pumps parts.  On a typical day I would pump 10 ounces, which filled both Lansinoh bottles. I kept an extra capped Lansinoh bottle in my Medela book bag. After each pumping session, I would pour the milk into the Lansinoh bottle.  Each day when I picked up baby, I would place the capped Lansinoh bottles in the fridge.  Tip #7 is crucial because chilled breastmilk separates, and much of the fat will stick to its container once chilled.

8. Get a breastmilk friendly bottle warmer.

The Kiinde Kozii is a bottle warmer specifically made for warming breastmilk.  My baby’s caretaker would warm the Lansinoh bottle and top it with a Lansinoh nipple, easy peasy.

9. Work out the details before you go back to work.

Prior to returning to work I talked with my pricipal about when and where I thought I could pump.  I pumped 3 times a day, for 20 minutes at a time, in a small storage room.  It was not an ideal location, and I was walked in on a few times.  I always kept my back to the door just to be safe.  Also ideally you need 20 minutes of pure pumping, try to factor in additional time to get set up, etc. 30 minutes would be best.

10. Keep you eyes on the prize.

Countless times I was beyond ready to throw in the towel.  Keeping up with all the bottles, being unavailable during my planning time, the awkward moments of being walked in on or lugging my supplies around, I was ready to give it all up. I would just remind myself that my goal was to nurse my baby for a year, and I did not want my job to get in the way of that.

Don't let the fear of pumping at work put an end to your breastfeeding journey. These tips will help you be successful!

A Working Mom’s #sorrynotsorry to SAHM’s

A few weeks after returning to work because my glorious 12 week maternity leave had come to an end, I had just made my 30 minute commute from work to pick up my little one, when I received a lofty Facebook message from an acquaintance asking me to buy something she was selling.

At the time I was really struggling with the emotions of going back to work. I had to leave my still brand new baby every morning around 6:45 AM, and the earliest I could get back to him was 3:30 PM.
Getting to him at 3:30 PM meant that I felt guilty for leaving my classroom and coworkers behind. My grade level would often meet and plan together after school; while I crept down the hall and slipped out the door, hoping they’d remember the days of having littles ones, and forgive me for not contributing.

Once I arrived to pick up my son I would often be so exhausted from the day, that I felt like he was getting second best.

It seemed as if I was giving myself to someone else’s children all day, and was too exhausted for my own child that evening.  Hearing of milestones he met, or new things he was doing hurt too; as happy as I was to hear the great news, my heart broke that I missed it.  I struggled with the thoughts of my son loving his caretaker more than me, or him not understanding where “home” was.

With a goal to nurse for at least a year, I was still breastfeeding. Between the pumping at work and in the car, painful engorgement, leaking, and the constant chore of transporting milk and cleaning pump parts, I battled my decision to continue to breastfeed daily.

And there sat the Facebook message. Sent from a former teacher and mother of two little ones. She had become a SAHM and was selling books, or makeup, or something on the side.

Her polite inquiry for me to purchase something from her, absolutely enraged me, down to my very core.

Here I was forced to go back to work, to meet my financial obligations. Struggling daily to be a good teacher, coworker, mom, wife, and take care of myself, and she wanted my money. I wanted to tell her so bad that I would not contribute to her having the best of both worlds. No dollar of mine was going to let her enjoy an income while she raised her children at home. I wanted to hurt her feelings because her quick little message, that she probably sent to the masses, was the icing on the cake in my world.

Her message is one of many I’ve received since I went back to work last spring. I’ve never replied to any of them, I just delete them and try to extinguish the little fire that’s ignited inside me every time. I feel jealous of these women that get to stay home, and I know if takes guts for them to put themselves out there and reach out to people to sell things. I’m sure they miss adult conversations, and jamming out on the way to work, while they sip coffee, but I miss time with my son that I’ll never get back.

Maybe they are selling things to have some cash of their own, or maybe they too have financial obligations. Whatever their reason, I only have my point of view, and no lash extension miracle mascara, embroidered bag, or children’s book is going to be purchased with the money I regretfully earned while being away from my child.

Labor and Delivery: 11 Things No One Told Me About Epidurals

Please read this post with so many “grains of salt” that your able to enjoy a margarita (or virgin margarita). This is in no way, shape, or form, any type of medical advice. I am a teacher, not a doctor.  I’m not even a good candidate to administer first aid. I am the most squeamish person I know, not to mention that all this is a recollection of my birth story, when I was not at my sharpest.

1. Breaking your water before you have an epidural is not the smartest of moves.

This, pending the fact that you actually have control over how your labor is progressing, and let’s face it, once the baby comes, you won’t ever have control over anything for the rest of your life. But getting your water broken actually kind of hurts, and sitting up to have an epidural is very messy if your water has already been broken.

2. No one can stay with you when you have an epidural.

I had a major “I want my mama” moment when it was time for my epidural. My also very squeamish mom wanted no part of being in there for that anyway, but I was really scared to have to do that on my own. I told my nurse that I needed her to hug me and talk me through it. I squeezed her tight, digging my forehead into her shoulder, while my “water” continued to gush rivers all over the both of us.

3. Am I the only person on the planet that didn’t realize that an epidural is like an IV for your back?

I thought that an epidural was more like a shot, but its a completely separate IV that’s taped to your back so that it doesn’t move when you do. Ugh to this day I get light headed just thinking about it.

4. It comes with a pain management button.

I had access to a button that would “amp” up the epidural by giving me more “juice.” I used it quite a bit. No one explained it to me, but I’m assuming it had medicinal and placebo effects.

5. You can be “too numb.”

Just before it was time to push I was clinging to the bed rails begging someone to help me. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t describe or even pinpoint. My nurse calmly told me that any more “juice” from the epidural might make me too numb to push. Turns out more epidural juice wasn’t what I needed anyway, a few minutes into to pushing I barfed everywhere and felt ten times better.

6. It’s hard to be “lady like.”

As modestly as I can put this. When you have an epidural you’re completely unaware of feelings such as being gassy. So when the nurse suggests helping you roll to one side or the other be sure you’re comfortable farting in front of any guests you may have at the time.

7. It goes away quickly, yet stays with you for a while.

Moments, dare I say seconds after my son was born, they unhooked my epidural. I got sensation back so quickly that I could feel the doctor stitching me up…OUCH. And for a couple months after my son was born, if I bent down a certain way, this bolt of tingling lightning would shoot down my leg. It didn’t hurt, it just felt weird. I also felt like my back was just sort of separated into two halves, top and bottom. It’s so hard to explain, but I’ve had other women tell me that they understand what I mean.

8. Your blood pressure becomes a major concern.

Once I signed myself up for an epidural, I also signed up for a permanent blood pressure cuff.  This cuff would take my blood pressure automatically, every. 15. minutes.  Therefore sleep and rest was impossible because every 15 minutes it felt like my arm was going to explode.

9. You have to have an IV first.

I didn’t know that you have to have IV fluids for at least an hour prior to receiving an epidural.  I had IV fluids for 34 hours, I’m pretty sure I made sloshing sounds when I walked for a week.

10. It slows down progress.

I really wish that I would have known that epidurals slow down progress.  It’s almost as if epidurals and pitocin work against each other.

11. The numbing effect can change locations.

No idea why or how, but lets say you lay on your left side for too long, all of your numbness will be on the left side. Epic Epidural Fail.


12 Things About My First 12 Months as a Mother

12 Things About My First 12 Months as a Mother

1. I was overcome with the desire to improve myself for my child.

From my health to my career, I really want to be a good role model, and mother.

2. That motherly instinct I heard so much about is not always fool proof.

Numerous times I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and still don’t. I guess you just kind of learn to wing it.

3. I ate lots and lots of crow.

I did things I swore I’d never do…too much screen-time, nursing to sleep, bed sharing, and junk food to name a few.

4. Countless times my baby would absolutely take my breath away.

The first time I heard him laugh, watching him learn how to crawl, seeing him standing without support, moments like these would stop my heart as my eyes filled with tears.

5. Over and over again I would be amazed at how fast my baby was growing.

It is absolutely amazing how much they change over 1 year.

6. How I managed my time became very important to be.

I hate how much I’m away from my son during the work week so I really try not to let trivial things take away any more time.

7. I took baby steps.

I never did anything I wasn’t ready for, from nursing in public to leaving baby with a caretaker to sleepovers.

8. I learned that it does get easier.

I can remember how insanely daunting leaving the house was in the beginning. By the time we thought we were ready to go, having packed up half the house, it would be time for baby to eat again or he’d have a major blowout. These days I stuff a couple diapers in my purse and head out the door.

9. I became so flipping emotional.

Even my husband got choked up watching the grinch! I see my students differently now that I’m a mother. Being a parent absolutely breaks your heart and you’re never the same.

10. I realized that babies do not cure “baby fever.”

Turns out it is an incurable disease that makes husbands very nervous.

11. I found out what really mattered.

Before my son was born I was so worried about picking the perfect name, having a perfect nursery, and planning out every detail of our new life as a family. But I learned so quickly that babies don’t care about any of that.

12. I let go of life as I knew it.

I didn’t put up a struggle as I kissed my freedom goodbye, maybe just a little, but I embraced the new chapter of my life as a mother.