Pumping while out and about, or at work, has become the story of my life. When my son was born, I swore that I would be done breastfeeding by the time he was 6 months. Well…6 months has come and gone, and here I am, still pumping away. Since I’m a working mom, he is primarily bottle fed, which means I have been there, pumped there and done that. It’s not an easy feat, so here are some tips to make pumping on-the-go and at work easier on you, Mama!
Invest in a Reliable Breast Pump
These days, most insurance plans cover breast pumps. My insurance did not provide me with the ‘top of the line’ pump, but my Ameda Purely Yours Double Electric does the trick! If insurance only covers a manual pump, or a single electric, I suggest investing in a pump that will fit your busy-mom needs. It will save you time and sanity, and we all know how important those are!
A Bag for your Pumping Essentials
I personally carry 2 bags to work everyday. I’m sure there is a a way to condense that to one, but it works for me. One bag is an insulated cooler with an ice block and 3-4 pumping containers to transfer the milk into. The second bag carries my pump, cord, and other pump parts. For the first few weeks back to work, I managed to forget one of these essential item numerous times, but now it’s just habit to grab all of these on the way out of the door.
Find Your Private Space
I work in a loft/tower that is 1 level above everyone else in my small office (7 people). Since there is no door, I bought a shower rod and a thick curtain to hang in the stairwell. So when I pump, I simply close the curtain. Can other employees hear what is going on up here? Yep. Awkward? Sometimes. Especially when people try to talk to you or ask if you’re busy WHILE the curtain is closed and they can clearly hear a pump going (see realistic image to right). Of course those people are always men. It’s not the most lovely of accommodations, but you have to work with what you have. My work is very flexible with my ‘new mom’ schedule so I personally did not demand a private area for pumping. However, that is a law, so if you’re employer is not accommodating your needs, feel free to show them this.
Hands Free Pumping Bra
I’m crazy. I went 5 months without this. This bra is life changing! Instead of sitting at my kitchen counter or desk holding onto the pump parts, now I can work, type, unload my dishwasher, make coffee and entertain a baby. You definitely resemble a creature from Austin Powers, but it’s essential for being able to multitask throughout the day. I suggest purchasing a bra like this, so you’re not changing into a different bra every time you have to pump.
If you are able to bring an extra set of pump parts/flanges to work, great! If not, don’t stress about cleaning the parts after every use. Breast milk can stay out for about 6 hours, meaning so can your pump parts. After each use, I put them in a ziploc bag and put them in with my ice pack. That way I can get 2-3 pumps out of them and not have to worry about washing them until I get home. If it’s a long day and I’m using them more, I would plan a trip to the restroom to wash them up.
Car Adapter or AC/DC Converter
Being able to pump anywhere, anytime is huge! I have sat in my car in a parking lot in Breckenridge and before a concert at the Pepsi Center…just to name a few. This saves a lot of stress in wondering where you will be able to pump, and allows you much needed freedom. Be sure to bring along your nursing cover in case you have the occasional passerby.
Plan Ahead When You’re Out and About
If you’re going to be running around and away from a personal space for more than a few hours, think about where you can take a break and pump. Does the mall/store/airport you’re visiting have a family restroom with an outlet? Or better yet, a mom’s room? Now that I’m a mom, I realize how crucial these areas are and how much I appreciate places that provide these essential spots for nursing mothers. If all else fails, use a car adapter or AC/DC converter that you’ve invested in (see above), bring a cover up, and pump in your car.
Crying over Spilled Milk
It’s going to happen, and it’s perfectly acceptable to cry over the loss of your liquid gold.
If you are a pumping-on-the-go mom, good for you! It’s not easy, but it’s worth it for our babies.