Pump Up the Jam

Let’s talk about boobs some more, why don’t we? First, I’ll talk about fun stuff, and then leave the nitty-gritty for the end of the post, in case you’re here for straight up data points.

I went back to work after a 12-week maternity leave, and thankfully, I work for a very, very progressive department that is supportive of me pumping at work. I didn’t really tell people about the problems I had with breastfeeding at the beginning, but my boss understood how important it was to me to keep my breastfeeding relationship with my daughter going. My employer even makes a point of having a brazillion lactation rooms spread all over campus, and the building in which I work has one right downstairs in the basement, which features a comfy chair and a hospital-grade pump. SCORE.

We already had bottles worked out, since we’d been having to supplement with formula and I’d been pumping during my maternity leave to feed her every day. Originally, I’d bought a bunch of BPA-free plastic bottles to use, until I read something about how they were substituting BPA with BPS, which is mostly unstudied and may be even more dangerous than BPA. YIKES. So, I promptly ordered some glass bottles from Lifefactory, which you can see in action below. They were a little expensive, but the glass gives me peace of mind, and the silicone sleeves that come with them are great for non-slippiness and for cushioning the fall in case we drop them. Plus, they’re cute, amirite?

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When I first went back to work, I was hauling my milk home in Medela Pump & Save bags. These were pretty convenient and didn’t take up much space in my purse, but even though they’re recyclable, I just couldn’t stop feeling guilty about increasing the demand for plastic, especially since I was going through, like, 10 bags a week. So I picked up some Medela 8oz milk bottles without the nipples, and I just carry those back and forth every day, cleaning them at home in between. They’re handy, and I’ll be able to keep reusing them until I stop pumping at work, whenever that may be.

So, since I started back at work, I’ve been merrily pumping along, but something was missing. I work on the 2nd floor of the building, and the lactation room is in the basement, and I had been using a grocery bag to carry my collection of stuff between the two places, feeling like an unfancy bag lady. Finally, after pumping for 4 months at work (god, I can’t believe it’s been that long), I decided I needed something pretty to carry my stuff around in. Enter ETSY!

Yessss! The perfect size! #pumping

Newly arrived, with a photobomb by Cosmo

I found this lovely little bag  from the seller lovejill on Etsy after doing a search for wristlet clutches. I gambled a little on the size, since it’s hard to estimate how much room the parts will actually take up, but it ended up being PERFECT. It even has a little pocket inside that’s the right size for my cell phone (which I bring to pass the time while pumping) and a few bucks in case I want to hit the vending machine or the cafe on the way back upstairs.

Perfect fit

The view inside

The bag measures 8″ x 13″, and is big enough to accommodate the pump arm, flange, and a storage bottle. It’s also big enough that it looks like a legit purse, but not so big that I look like I’m carrying luggage around. Also, HELLO! It’s cute! And really well-made.

The new bag, in situ

In situ

So, that takes care of me pumping at work. One thing that I’ve had to contend with is the simple fact that working moms who pump during the day can often experience supply dips, since they’re not getting as much of the the hormonal/biological stimulation to produce breastmilk as those who are will their babies all day and feed on-demand. I’m able to do a few things to combat this. First of all, I usually try to get into “nursing vacation” mode at least one day of every weekend. Maybe not for the whole day (but sometimes yeah!), but spending lengthy amounts of time on the weekend where we do skin-to-skin, spend a lot of time snuggling, and where I basically offer her the breast as often as possible, really helps me keep my supply up. My production Monday mornings is pretty awesome after I’ve been able to do this over the weekend.

Another way I work to keep my supply up is by consuming galactologues, several of which are found in the lactation cookies my friend Alicia makes for her business Rosie’s Best. It doesn’t hurt that they’re delicious. When I’ve got a batch of these in the cupboard, I usually eat 2-3 per day and can see a boost.

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Seriously, they’re tasty

Okay, for those of you here for the cold, hard facts, here you go:

  • I pump 4 times per day currently. I generally feed my daughter around 6:30, get her to daycare by 7:30, and then my first pumping session is at 9:30. I pump every two hours on the odd half-hour, so 9:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:30pm. Then I pick her up at about 5:30pm and feed her right when we get home.
  • I generally pump between 12-16oz per day. Usually, my biggest pump is first thing in the morning, and then I get about 3oz per pump for the rest of the day.
  • I only use 4oz bottles with the slowest-flow nipples possible for her at daycare. So, I send three 4oz bottles and one 2oz bottle with her. The 4oz bottles are her main “meals”, and then the 2oz is used if she needs a top-up during the day, or if she’s starving at 5pm and they know I’m coming soon. We had some milk-amount issues with the daycare about a month ago, which I’ll probably talk about in another post, but since those were resolved we’ve stayed at this amount, and she’ll probably get this amount at daycare until she stops getting breastmilk at daycare. Now that those issues have been resolved, probably 4 out of 5 days per week, she doesn’t even drink the 2oz bottle.
  • This is a good resource for figuring out how much your baby needs at daycare every day.
  • When I first started pumping at work, I’d pump about 10 minutes per side. Nowadays, I know what I’m producing, and have cut it down to about 5-7 minutes per side.
  • I don’t have a huge freezer stash, but I haven’t had to use what I have yet, either. I’ve got about 50oz in my freezer, and so far I’ve given one 5oz bag to daycare as a backup and have had to bust out my first “about to get to be 5 months old” bag to start cycling through the old milk. I’m able to squirrel away about 5oz a week, though, which makes me feel more comfortable in case something happens where I’m not able to nurse her. Obviously, she’ll go through it quickly if we have to use it, but still.
  • Like I mentioned above, I pass the time at the pump with my phone. My favorite thing to do is watch videos from my favorite beauty gurus on YouTube. I mostly try to ignore what I’m producing while I pump, because it can stress me out, which can hamper let-down.
  • Speaking of let-down, if it feels like it’s taking a while (which then starts stressing me out), I’ve got a batch of photos and videos of Clare on my phone that I’ll watch, which can really speed things up.
  • I’ve got an iPhone, and I use an app called Milk Maid to track my pumping output. I find it handy because it’s got a timer on it, so I can keep track of how long I’ve been pumping on each side. It also lets me record my output, and then I can look at graphs over time to see trends. It satisfies my nerdy need for data.

Do you have any questions? Any stories to relate or suggestions? Let me know!

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