To all of you AMAZING moms who work full time and pump for your babies- hats off to you! It's a hard job. Nicole Covarelli is a teacher who has worked hard to master pumping at work to provide breast milk for her sweet little boy. She was kind enough to write this blog post to help out all you moms that are wondering, "how am I going to make this work?" So learn from her wisdom and experience below!
Pumping While Working 101
Working full time is hard. Being a working momma is also hard. Being a working momma who has to use every spare minute and break she gets to pump milk for her baby is extra hard. But being a working and pumping momma makes you a rockstar.
Unfortunately, we don’t always feel like rockstars when we are pumping at work. You actually probably feel alone. For me, pumping at work was often lonely and some days it made me downright sad (tears included). Locking myself in a closet while watching videos of my baby on my phone while pumping milk for my baby who I couldn’t be with was lonely.
BUT every day I knew I made an amazing choice for my baby by committing to breastfeeding. I knew that every ounce of breastmilk I pumped was full of nutrients that I wouldn’t find in formula. I knew that every minute I spent pumping was to help a tiny human grow healthy and strong.
That being said, I would like to take a minute to go over my basics of pumping while working.
WHAT supplies I needed to pump easily at work:
Pump attachments and bottles
Breastmilk storage bags (Target Up & Up brand are THE BEST)
Baby wipes to clean up spilled milk (sorry, you will spill milk)
My phone to watch videos of my baby while pumping
HOW I pumped:
On my breaks I would go into the closet at school and pump. I often pumped both sides simultaneously for about 10-15 minutes total. I always started with the let down feature on my pump and then would revisit the let down feature every 5 minutes or so. I could tell when I needed to have another let down to get out more milk.
I found after about 10 minutes, I had to pump only one side at a time to finish emptying the milk. My pump seemed stronger when I pumped one side at a time.
Once I was done, I poured breastmilk into 6 ounce storage bags and kept them in the refrigerator. I also kept my pump attachments and bottles in the refrigerator so I didn’t have to wash them after each pumping session. (I washed everything at the end of the day).
This whole process from setup to clean up was about 20 minutes.
WHEN I pumped:
5:00 AM - wake up and pump*
10:30 AM- pump on my conference period at work
3:00 PM- pump right after school
5:45 PM- nurse my son after day care
8:30 PM- nurse my son for a dream feed
9:30-10:00 pump before I went to bed**
*I always pumped out all milk first thing in the morning and set aside a bottle for my son. I got way more milk from my morning pump than he needed for a feeding, and this allowed me to save LOTS of ounces of milk by giving him a bottle rather than nursing in the morning.
** Once my son was a few months old, I was able to sleep for 7-8 hours without getting up in the middle of the night to feed or pump. Thankfully, my supply stayed consistent. You do what is best for you.
When I was working, I had to go 5 hours or so between pumping sessions. This is how my schedule at work was, so I had to pump when I had free time. You will have to do what works best for you and your employer.
WHAT extra information should I know about pumping:
-Keep snacks in your pump bag/room. Breastfeeding mommas are always hungry.
-Your let down reflex is inhibited by stress, alcohol, and caffeine. If you notice your milk won’t come out, but you know it’s there, limit these things.
-Do your best to pump at the same times each day so you can really know how many ounces of milk you produce over the same time frame each day.
-Find a momma who also works and pumps to have as your buddy. You will need to vent and cry some days, and that okay.
-When your milk supply dips, drink extra water and have a good high fat, high protein, high carb cheat meal. That always helped a little.
-Your value is not in the ounces of milk you pump. Your milk supply will dip, but that does not change how amazing you are.
Moms, you are amazing no matter how you feed your baby. Pumping is hard and rewarding. However you feel on a given day is normal, but always find someone to talk to about how you are doing. On the hard days, I had to remind myself what a miracle it is that a mother can feed her baby the best food possible from her own body. I reminded myself to be thankful that I COULD pump at work and continue to send breastmilk to daycare each day.
Solidarity, pumping mommas. Solidarity.