Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pumping at Work and Breastfeeding - Month 3

15 weeks postpartum

I think two of the most frequently asked questions I get are:

1. "How's the 'pumping' stuff going being back at work?"


2. "How long do you think you'll breast feed for?"

Good questions!
I use a bowl to put my parts in and so I can easily wash the pieces in the sink at work

1. How's the 'pumping' stuff going being back at work?
Pumping at work took some adjusting to. But EVERYTHING takes adjusting to! Going into week two, I'm still learning how to get to everything in a work day. I will say my day goes extremely fast. SO fast! Thankfully I work quickly and I can do multiple things at once.

When I was home for those 12 13 weeks (3 months), I would only pump after the first feeding of the day (well minus the first two weeks of crazy when I'd have to pump after every feeding). Sometimes I wasn't able to because Jackson was up for good after and it was just me there with him. There was no way I could set him down so I could pump for 15/20 minutes, so I'd have to wait until he was napping in the afternoon. Every single day I always wondered...will I store enough milk to last as long as I want? There were other times I was completely exhausted at 3:00/4:00 in the morning and crawled back into bed, which usually meant I skipped an entire day all together. Then I'd feel uber guilty. Then there were the other days where Karl would feed Jackson a bottle (we did that only once a week so Karl and Jackson could bond and Jackson wouldn't be surprised once he went to homecare. And no, I don't get out much these days if you haven't been able to tell.). I would then pump. But I never was really building the stash by doing that.

Anyway, when I'd pump after the first feeding, I'd get maybe 2 to 4 ounces and I'm seeing now how fast we're breezing through the stash I worked so hard building up. Whoa. I have only two more big freezer bags left from my "at home" stash. And now two more from my "at work" pump stash. To give you an idea of how fast we went through the "at home" stash....I'd say about 3 to 4 days per big freezer bag.

I've started to panic but Karl's cousin (a working mom of three) is helping me see the bigger picture. I first needed to figure out how many ounces Jackson was eating at homecare and then make sure I'd pump that many ounces at work.

Duh. Makes sense.

Currently Jackson is eating anywhere from 10 to 12.5 ounces total at homecare. He does about three feedings. Homecare started off with 3 ounces each time and in our second week Jackson is up to 4 ounces each time. Our awesome homecare (an exclusive b-feeder of her three kids) realized if she gave the bottle some pressure and Jackson's lips cupped the nipple like he was breastfeeding, he drank a LOT slower and didn't get much air at all and was content with 3 ounces. She is so helpful and amazing!!! We do think he's going through a growth spurt as he's starting to take 4 ounces each time.

I'm currently pumping anywhere from 14 to 19.5 ounces total in my three 15 minute pump sessions. I've also been eating oatmeal and avocados as frequently as I can since I've read and heard that can help build up your supply. Who really knows though, right?

Feeding/Pumping schedule goes like this:
Feed Jackson by 5:30 a.m. - 30 minute feeding
Into work by 7:30 a.m.
Pump 15 minutes at 9:00 a.m.
Pump 15 minutes at 12:00
Not totally getting the best lunch breaks right now - working on that!
Pump 15 minutes at 3:00 p.m.
Leave work by 4:00 p.m.
Feed Jackson between 5:15/6:30 - 30/45 minute feeding
Feed Jackson between 8:15/9:30 - 30 minute feeding
Bed by 9:30/10:00 every night

Seems to be working right now! But babies are so unpredictable and this will probably change some. I *think* I should always have a two-week supply of milk in the freezer. I think. I mean, the math shouldn't lie. I'm just worried when he starts drinking 6-9 ounces at a time. Will I have enough?? But that shouldn't start until he's 6 months old and by then he'll be eating some solids too. ALWAYS a worry in my mind. I wish I could let this stuff go!

I'm trying to stick to my work pumping times since I have to pump in one of the bathrooms upstairs and I need to let employees know the times so they can work their bathroom breaks accordingly. There is no other room to go in that is private in the entire building. That part is a little tough but there isn't much I can do. I hate feeling like I'm a nuisance. But then I keep telling myself by breastfeeding I'm helping keep our healthcare costs down. I'm doing my part! Ha! Ha!

Things I've learned from pumping at work:
1. Buy extra parts
I have enough parts to cover me for two pump sessions without having to wash anything. After everyone's lunch breaks, I head down to the sink in the kitchen and clean both parts for my afternoon session. I must keep an ample supply of dish soap for this.

2. Buy a big bowl to wash your parts in.
I don't trust our sink at work. People throw their dirty stuff in the sink and don't really do their own dishes. Anyway, I know my bowl is clean so I wash parts in there. I do have the quick clean wipes and steam bags, but I just don't feel like they do a good enough job cleaning up the parts.

3. Pump into bottles versus bags.
The entire time I was at home, I'd pump directly into Medela storage bags, store them in the fridge and then move to our freezer and then put a bunch of them into a freezer bag and store in our deep freezer. What I'm realizing is the ounces are off by one on all storage bags. Does this make sense? I'm kind of confused about this. The bags show you pump more than a bottle shows. Goofy. Why don't they fix this? To get accurate numbers, I now pump in Medela bottles, bring my Medela cooler storage bag and freezer pack and store this in our fridge at work. I put my bottles in this so they aren't exposed and freak anyone out. When I get home, I then pour the milk from the bottles into storage bags and stick in the freezer.

4. Buy a hands-free bra
I use this ALL the time so I can read a magazine or catch up on Facebook or stare at my baby's picture on my cell while I'm in the bathroom, sitting on a comfy chair I stole from the conference room...otherwise it's so gray, smelly and blah in there... I also turn the vent on so people outside the bathrooms can't hear what's going on.

5. Take things lightly
I've had co-workers stop me in the hallway on my way out of the bathroom with my hands full of bottles of b-milk. Men especially get embarrassed and kind of stare at the floor and walk away. I just have to let it go.

2. How long do you think you'll breastfeed for?

I get asked the question a lot. When I was pregnant and naive about how time consuming and hard breastfeeding can be, I said a full year. I'd LOVE for this statement to still ring true, but I don't know? I really hope I can. I also hope I can get out a little more because I'm always racing to homecare or home so Jackson gets me rather than a bottle. It's kind of nuts. I was proud of myself for making it to three months, that was my NEW goal. Now I take it month by month. I want only the best for Jackson and I know breast milk is the best for him; however, I also need to be happy and content and have somewhat of a life because when mom is happy, EVERYONE is happy!

How did you survive breastfeeding while working? Any tips?


I found your blog through your article on the Star Tribune - I love it, in large part because my daughter is 14 weeks old also, so I can relate to so much of what you're going through!
I'm only pumping twice at work, but my lactation consultant told me that you don't have to wash the pump parts every time - since milk is fine at room temperature for six hours, she said it's also fine to reuse your pump parts within that six hour window. Also, the milk is apparently good in the Medela cooler pack (with the ice pack) for 24 hours, so you don't have to put the cooler pack in the fridge as well. Any little thing to save time and effort, right? :)

Cool Steph!! Thanks. Congrats on your daughter. Exciting!!! How much are you getting when you pump twice? Does it seem to be working well for you? I only bring that cooler pack because it's been SO HOT out and I'm worried the milk will get hot faster transporting it in the car (and stopping in at homecare for a few extra minutes) and I can hide the milk in there at work too without freaking anyone out. I work with a lot of men! Interesting about the parts!! That would save some time.

I should have added that I also pump first thing in the morning, since I can't fit 3 pumping sessions in at work. So at 6am I usually get 4-8 ounces, at 10am I get 4-6 ounces, and at 2pm I get 4-5 ounces. Then I pick my daughter up and feed her around 4 or 4:30. So with those 3 pumping sessions I'm making enough for the 3 4-oz bottles she drinks at "school," plus there's often enough to freeze an extra 4-oz bag for later. So far it's working well, but I'm only two weeks in so we'll see how it goes... Oh, and when I'm at work I just keep the milk bottles hidden in the cooler pack (with the ice pack) under my desk so I don't have to remember to stop by the fridge on my way out. :)
Can I just say how weird it is to pump at work? I'm not used to being topless in an office setting, even behind a closed/locked door! I wonder if it will ever feel "normal."

I think your amount should work - that's about what I'm getting! Do you like being back at work? And yes, weird to be pumping!! I'm not sure anything will ever feel normal again. HA!

You inspired me to add a pumping post to my own blog. :)
Yes, I actually love being back at work. I know I'm not "supposed" to, but I feel so much more balanced and like myself now that I'm back at work. (Selfish? Oh well. I try not to feel like a bad mom for admitting I like to work.) Has it gotten any easier for you to be back?

I love your blog!!!! It's been a LONG while since I've had to pump at work. But my schedule was like this: Pump at 4:30 am, right when I got up. Feed Quinny at 6:00 am before going to work. Pump at work at 9am, noon and 2:30pm (roughly). At first I got a good 20 ounces, give or take, depending on the day. I did notice that if I drank/ate dairy, it would increase. Eventually, it tapered down and I slowly cut out a session at work until I stopped altogether at around 11 months (pumping). We did start supplementing her bf bottles with some formula until 1 year, then we started her on cows milk, with a nursing session in the morning and at bedtime. We stopped with even the bedtime ones at 15 months - and let me tell you, it's harder on you than it is for them! At least in my case. I miss that bonding time. But you feel so much freer too :) Good luck! I hope it continues to go well!!!

Post a Comment