Monday, March 11, 2013

Mommy Mondays: Pump It Up!

 The smart, beautiful and fast Auds recently started back at work after having her sweet baby boy.  Before she started, she asked for some pumping at work tips.  Don't worry, I didn't make her wait it out till now, but I thought I would share it with the rest of the class now.  Because I know she's not the only person out there who will have to pick up a pump.

Even when breastfeeding is easy - it's still a job that requires time and dedication.  And this is especially true about pumping.  I'm not going to lie - pumping sucks.  For me, it was the most-worstest part of breastfeeding (which is why I was ever so happy to quit doing it at 12 months).   I want to preface this with the fact that Thatbaby was born full term, without any medical issues and had the standard infant latching issues (having to learn how to do it, falling asleep at the breast, eating ALL the time).  If this doesn't sound like your baby, some of these tips are not going to apply.  Without further ado, my tips for the evil pump.

Assuming there is no medical reason to pump, you should wait until your baby is 4-6 weeks old before introducing the pump.  There are a host of reasons for this, but the big ones are:
* Waiting to introduce the pump means your baby is nursing from the breast only, and this really helps to build and strengthen the breastfeeding relationship.
* Nursing is based on supply and demand.  The more you nurse, the better your supply.  And those first couple of weeks are all about building a supply.  The pump is a fabulous tool - especially for us working moms, but it is a "baby substitute" and not nearly as effective as the baby is at building supply.  Babies are much more powerful/efficient at getting milk out, because that's what they were created to do!  There will be days that it feels like your little bundle of joy never unlatches and is constantly eating.  Especially during that 3 week growth spurt.  But that constant nursing is exactly what your body needs to create a great supply for your baby.
* As I said, there will be days when you seem to nurse constantly.  Which makes finding time to pump a big issue.  This gets a little better after the 3 week growth spurt.  I'm not saying that at 3 weeks 1 day your child will go for hours without eating, but they will space out a little.  Enough where you can squeeze in a pumping session.
* The dreaded "oversupply."  This sounds like such a great thing, right?  Loads of milk.  Except when it comes to breastfeeding, oversupply is awful.  In general, breastmilk is a mixture of watery milk and fatty milk.  This helps the baby grow big and strong.  But in cases of oversupply, a woman makes too much of that watery milk, and not enough of that fatty milk.  Without the fatty milk to help slow it down, the watery milk rushes through a baby's digestive system.  This is really painful.  It causes cramping, gas, discomfort, and a very fussy and unhappy baby.  And it takes a lot of work to correct itself.  Some women naturally have this problem, but many others create it by pumping too early and sending the wrong message to their body that they need more milk, and because the pump isn't quite the same as the baby, sometimes this means the body just produces the watery stuff.

How often?
This is a personal thing - you have to do what works with your schedule/needs.  For me, I started pumping once a day.  After his first morning feed.  (Because you produce the most milk in the morning)  For me, that was around 2:30 A.M.   At that time, I would pump for 20 minutes, through 2 letdowns, or until I stopped producing milk (and then just a smidge longer). 

At 6 weeks, Thatboy went back to work.  And we introduced a bottle every night as part of their daddy-son bedtime bonding routine.  And I added in a pump session at that point, because it is REALLY important to pump every time you miss a nursing session.  So at that time, I was pumping every morning and every evening. 

How much?
 You're not going to get much at first.  For 2 reasons.  First, because you're nursing AND pumping.  So baby is getting a majority of the milk.  Which is good, what you want.  Secondly, you won't get much at first because your baby is an itty-bitty, and doesn't eat that much to begin with.  Remember - stomach the size of their baby fist!   So you may only get half an ounce at first.  But keep with it and you'll condition your body to make more at that time.  And once you go back to work, you'll be pumping instead of nursing, so you'll get a whole heck of a lot more.

Pumping at Work?
 When I went back to work, L&O passed along her fantastic pumping at work advice.  This is pretty much what she told me, with my own experience added in.

1) Bring a receiving blanket. (I like the Aiden and Anais ones for this purpose, I just kept one in my pump bag).  Before you begin, put it across your lap so you don't end up with milk stains on your pants.

2) I don't know which pump you have  - I had/have the Medela PISA.  It came with 4 bottles.  I brought all four with me.  After the first pumping session I combined both bottles into one, and that went in the cooler in the fridge.  After my second pumping session, I combined both bottles into one, and that joined the first.  Etc. Etc. Etc.  This will give you 2-3 bottles (depending on how often you're pumping)

3) Don't worry about washing the dirty/empty bottle between pumping sessions (because remember, each pumping session will give you one bottle of milk, and one dirty bottle).  Place the dirty bottle/pumps/flanges/etc. in a ziplock bag and throw those in the fridge with your cooler of breastmilk.  (I didn't attempt to hide my ziplock of breastfeeding paraphernalia, but if your squeegy about it, then you can throw them in a lunchbag or something to camouflage.) 

*Things to invest in if you don't already have:
- Hands free pumping bra.  Seriously.  The only thing I couldn't do while pumping (workwise) was meet with my boss/clients, and talk on the phone (because of the obvious pump noise).  Other than that I could review documents, draft motions, send emails, whatever.

- car charger.  Sometimes I had to pump on the way to/from work/meetings/depositions, so I had to pump in the car - and the car charger is much more efficient than the battery charger it comes with.

- along the same lines, a kept a nursing cover in my pump bag just in case I needed to pump in the car.

Not Pumping Enough?
When I first started pumping, I was feeding Thatbaby right before I left for daycare - that gave me 3 hours once I got to work before I had to pump.  I pumped over my "lunch" and then around 2:30 in the afternoon.  I'd then feed him as soon as we got home from daycare. But he always ate more at daycare than he did at home, and consequently, more than I pumped.  So I had to add in pumping sessions.  I pumped in the car on the way to work, and then at night after he went to bed.  And I also added in a morning pumping session on the weekends.  Between all these pumping sessions, I had enough to feed him every day, and build up enough of a freezer stash to keep him on breastmilk for a full month after I stopped pumping!


  1. More AWESOME tips! Saved for when I someday have babies!

  2. I remember those days. Although never had to pump - worked from home. There's a lot more info around than back in the day...

  3. I utilized every single one of your pumping at work tips and I am so happy I did. My work let me put a tiny plug-in drink cooler that fits the 4 medela bottles and pump parts perfectly, which is way more convenient than the communal fridge. Re the no pumping for at least 4-6 weeks, I'd say that another benefit is not having to wash those annoying parts! Doing dishes got way more annoying . . .