This post is dedicated to my friend, M.M., who called me a few weeks before I returned to work after having my son. Thank goodness for great friends. Had she not given me the low-down on what it’s like to be a working [outside the home] mom, a pumping mom, and a working, pumping, TEACHER, I surely would not have survived those first weeks before I really got a hang of things. Breastfeeding advice is easy to find; pumping advice…not so much. I am so grateful for that phone call.
Here’s what you need to know: PUMPING SUCKS.
I’m just bein’ straight with ya, yo. There is nothing fun nor beautiful about pumping. It’s you, your pump, your breasts, your brain, and some empty bottles to fill. GO AT IT. God help you if there is a classroom-full of humans banging on your door. Or the substitute-teacher coordinator thinks you’re gone, unlocks the door without knocking, as you yell, “Please come back later!!!!!,” then homeboy and a random man you’ve never met start walking toward your desk, all the while you’re saying, “I’m pumping. I’M PUMPING. I.AM.PUMPING. PLEASE LEAVE. PLEASE LEAVE,” while simultaneously ducking behind your desk as the sound of your pump errrr-errrrr-errrrr’s in the background. Quite a special memory for me.
But I digress.
Shockingly, despite how much I abhorred the task of pumping, I was able to successfully pump through an entire school year. There were some items that made the pumping scenario much easier, and once I figured out the best combination, the routine was easier.
By the way, if you’re a teacher who has to pump, I have a post just for you: Pumping in Your Classroom.
Here are the pumping accessories that helped ease my mind on the daily:
A Great Pump!
I know so many women who felt unsuccessful with pumping because their pump failed them. Some options are: renting from a hospital, putting a pump on your baby registry (that’s how I got mine!), or *BEST YET* contacting your insurance company to see what they will cover. Breast pumps are now covered by insurance, so follow these steps:
1.Call your doctor for a prescription for a breast pump.
2.Call your insurance company and find the DME (Durable Medical Equipment) provider near you and get their fax number.
3.Fax the prescription directly to the DME supplier.
4.Pick up the pump!
For more information and questions to ask, visit this info page on the Hygeia website.
Simple Wishes Pumping Bra
–Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking this is a bra. No way would I wear this thing other than for pumping. But it works wonders when you need to have two veritable suction cups slurping at your nerples. Wear a regular nursing bra (see my favorite, below), unstrap it, slap this Bad-Boy Simple Wishes around yourself, and get to pumpin’. *THIS* should be called The Miracle Bra.
–This one’s not completely necessary, but it made me feel better to know where my milk was at all times. I worked in a place where people would steal yogurt from your zippered lunch container. I wasn’t taking a chance with my precious liquid gold. Though maybe I should have made some homemade yogurt with breastmilk and put it in the shared staff fridge…
3 Large water bottles:
Two for you to put water in (and drink throughout the day) and one to store your breastmilk. Here’s how I did it:
1. Attach 9 oz bottles to your pump (9 oz! Not 5 oz! Nothing is worse than filling 5 oz and realizing “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”)
2. Keep your pumping bottles attached to the pump parts all day. Don’t change to new bottles. This may sound gross, but it’s perfectly fine. Don’t bother washing your pump parts, either. In the beginning, I used to run to the staff microwave and zap my pump parts in a steam-cleaing bag, but that was unnecessary. Just wash everything when you get home.
3. Once you’ve filled the small bottles, empty them into the bigger bottle.
4. When you get home, wash your pump parts, the bottles you pumped into, and give your caregiver your ONE bottle of milk and a feeding bottle for the day. BOOM. DONE.
Extra burp cloths/prefold diapers
— You’re gonna have a spill. Or you’ll have drops of milk on your desk/lap/blouse. Or your breasts will be damp from pumping. In any case, keep at least two in your pumping bag at all times. They’re great for wiping off the pump parts, too.
A great nursing bra
–My absolute favorite nursing bras were those made by Hot Milk. Comfortable, pretty, and they held up to constant wear. Just make sure you’re getting the right size. For reference: I’m the kind of girl who can get by with a camisole on a regular day. When I had nursing boobs, though? Um, my correct size was a 30DD. Make sure you measure yourself and buy appropriately.
–I ate Lactation Cookies daily to help keep up my energy and supply. Other favorites were: Lara Bars, trail mix, nuts, and hemp shakes.
So what did I miss? Are there any essentials you’d add?
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Leigh from Green-4-U.com says
I found it helpful to have a few videos on my phone of my baby to help me “let down” especially if I felt stress out about the day or the fact I might be walked in on. The more relaxed you are the better the results! I also used MotherLove More Milk capsules if I had a dip in supply, they worked very well for me.
Great post! I am getting ready to embark on Round 2 of pumping (second baby due any day) and these are great reminders.
Oh, and you don’t specifically mention it in the part about not washing the pump parts throughout the day (great advice, btw) but I kept a gallon-size ziplock bag in with my pumping stuff and just put all the pump parts in the fridge during the day. It makes them a bit chilly when you first start pumping, but it’s no big deal.
Ah, yes! Thank you! I’ll add that point. I did the same: kept the pump parts and the bottles in the fridge, but I would remove the part that touches the breast before refrigerating them!
Courtney, Founder milk it, llc says
Hi! Your Tips are great, especially the post for Teachers that need to pump. I founded Milk It, making a kit for moms headed back to work with privacy signs, milk labels, etc. It might be more suited to the office environment, but I’d love to have you take a look or review it – let me know if you’re interested! contactus (at) milkitkit.com — Best, Courtney
Cute products, Courtney! I’ll be contacting you!
I recently started putting my pump parts in the fridge. Awesome. Also I find the coolness soothing because pumping is irritating to me.
Yes! So much easier, right? =D
I don’t even refrigerate my parts in between, even though I do have a mini fridge in my classroom. I wipe the flange and the tunnel with a paper towel and put everything back together so the pump is completely ready the next time. This is my second time around.
I have my pump set up on my desk all the time. In the morning, I go ahead and hook everything up so when it’s time to pump, I just put on my hands free bra and start. My first chance is about 9:50. When I’m finished, I unhook the tubing and then take the flanges out of the bra with bottles still attached. Then, I unscrew the bottles, lay flanges on a paper towel, and combine the milk into one bottle and cap it and put it in the cooler bag. Next, I screw the one used bottle and one clean bottle back onto the flanges. I use the paper towel to wipe the flanges and inside them. I reattach the tubing and then I’m ready for the next time. My next pump is at lunch, around 12:30. The routine is the same, combining two bottles into one, getting one new bottle out, and hooking everything back up. I then pump during the students’ break at 2:45 until 3. This time, I leave everything hooked up and the milk still in the bottles, sitting on my desk, while I supervise bus call and get Fletcher off the bus he rides to my school. It’s about 3:20 or so when we get back up to my room. I quickly get him settled with a snack and cartoon and pump for another few minutes. I just can’t get it done in 15 min, so I have to do this.
Thanks so much for the tips! I was so scared of how I was gonna start school and pump for my LO but thanks to this post I feel confident I’ll do well. One question though what size of water bottles did you use and how long did that last your caregiver?
Thank you and awesome post! This will help a lot of babies and moms 😀
So glad, Rebecca! Thanks for commenting! 🙂
Kimberly pastuch says
I posted the same question on a mommy Facebook thread and got wonderful advice! FREEMIES!
They are collection cups that slip in between your bra and are more discreet. Great for car pumping too!
I’m also a teacher so I pump in the am while I get ready in the morning (6:15), at school (10:30) and then in the car at 3:30 on my way home.
All great advice- thanks!!
I am an itinerant teacher who travels between schools. My schedule varies, which will require me to find places to pump in my 3 schools. What would be your suggestions for milk storage? I am thinking that I will have to purchase a cooler to keep in my car.
I’m also an itinerant teacher and have been concerned. Have you learned any tricks of the trade? I only have privacy in 1 school that I’m at a few hours each week.
Awesome post! I love the idea of throwing it all in the fridge as well as keeping burp cloths handy!
I also purchased the freemie cups and am very pleased with them!!! Eliminates the need for the pumping bra and is so much more discreet 🙂 being comfortable helps me collect way more milk!
Don’t you find that the fatty pay off the milk sticks to the side of the big bottle? How does your care hover get the fat or if the bottle with out gearing the whole thing every time?
Wow that was a lot of typos. Sorry nursing and typing at the same time!