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A Full-Time Working Mom’s Guide to Successful Pumping!

March 21, 2017

Today I’m excited to share another breastfeeding story! Our first one was such a success that I’ve decided to make this an on-going series covering any and everything about breastfeeding. Email me if you have something to share. (Info@themamanotes.com)

Pumping is a topic I think most women have such mixed feelings about — while it gives you the freedom to work, take trips, have a social life, it’s also a serious PAIN! I don’t have personal experience with full-time pumping. I work from home and while I did pump every day it was nothing like what most full-time working mothers go through by any means. So I’m excited for Courtney to share her experience and tips today. Courtney works full-time in the male dominated tech industry in Silicon Valley.

(I couldn’t help but share the photo above of my friend Morgan who posted this on Instagram – she didn’t write this article, but it was so relevant and powerful I asked her if I could post it here to accompany the story.) 

I’ve been following Caitlin’s blog and instagram for a while but ever since she had Piper, I can’t enough. My daughter is 3 weeks younger and even though we live on opposite sides of the country, I can’t help but relate to almost everything Caitlin posts. Picky toddler tastebuds? Yep, we’ve got them. Napping issues? Same here. A love of breastfeeding? 100%..and that’s what leads me to write this post today! — Courtney Hart 

So you’re heading back to work. You might fall into the group that is absolutely dreading the thought of leaving your baby or you might be looking forward to a little more structure during the day, whatever your mindset, going back to work after having your first baby is no easy feat.

Sixteen months ago I was in the same boat. I had figured out my childcare situation, run through the various commute scenarios I would come across on any given day, and had communicated with my team about my return, but one thing still weighed heavily on me — for the first three and a half months of my daughter’s life she had been exclusively breastfed. Was going back to work going to end one of the most precious things happening in my life? Not without a fight, I told myself.

Because I felt so passionately about breastfeeding after returning to work, I decided to research and research and do some more research on the topic. That’s why today I wanted to share some of the things I learned along the way. Because you might be surprised, there’s not many success stories on the internet about this topic.

So like I said, I returned to work 16 months ago when my daughter was just an itty bitty 3.5 month old. At that point milk was her only source of nutrition so making sure I produced enough for three bottles a day was my goal. That meant 2-3 pumping sessions everyday.

Things I learned that both saved me time and my sanity.

  1. Refrigerate your pump parts – I know that might sound gross to some but from all my research this is key and completely safe so long as your wash them thoroughly each night. I was lucky enough to return to work at a place that has a dedicated mothers room equipped with its very own mini fridge. I brought a small soft cooler with me which I would pack with my milk and pump parts throughout the day.
  2. Always have a second set of everything – Trust me on this, even the most veteran mom may be at risk of a pump failure. Amazon sells kits of extra pump supplies, buy this and keep it on your pump bag! You never know when a membrane might go haywire or a valve gets too loose.
  3. Calendar your pumping breaks – I put each and every pumping break on my calendar. I booked 30 minutes each time. That gave me enough time to walk to the mother’s room, set up my pump, pump for 15-20 minutes, put everything away, and walk back to my desk. Those calendar blocks were essential since no one could request my time without asking me first.
  4. Stock up on photos and videos of your baby – Watching videos or looking at photos of your baby can actually help you release milk faster. Plus what new mom doesn’t want to stare at their baby all day?
  5. Take advantage of your let down button – Try to get two let downs per pump break by using the let down button to your advantage. As soon as you see your milk stop flowing, hit the button again. It may not work every time but some of my best pumps were from using this trick.
  6. Keep a sense of humor – One of the things I dreaded most about returning to work and pumping was that the mother’s room is positioned directly across our sales floor. The majority of our sales floor is made up of guys in their 30s, most of which do not have kids. It felt uncomfortable to start but after a couple weeks people were asking if they could store their food and friday beers in my fridge. I obliged, with a stern warning if they messed with my milk I’d freak, and we eventually ended up laughing at the random assortment that might be in the fridge on any given day.

So on July 29, 2016 I hung up my pumping parts. My baby would be turning one in the next week so I had made my goal. It was a challenging year with so many extra dishes and the never ending feeling of “forgetting something” but it was also an amazing accomplishment. So if you’re returning back to with the hope of breastfeeding, I wish you nothing but success and hope the few tricks I shared will help you.

First image by Morgan of Shop Buru and second image by  my friend, a working- pumping mama- Elizabeth 

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