Pumping Tips: At Home & At Work
Let me paint the scenario. Three months ago, you given birth to your bundle of joy. During your maternity leave, you exclusively breastfed. Now, you have to return to work. Your back-to-work date is fast approaching and you are dreading it. As a fellow working mama, I have experienced this three times (luckily with my 4th child, I have been able to stay home). Before returning to work, I knew that I had to create a routine to make it easier for me and transition my baby for this huge change. Preparing to pump at work starts before you return to work. And, you must purchase three essentials items to be successful at pumping.
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A breast pump should be a mandatory purchase for any new mother! When you are still in the hospital, contact your health insurance company to receive a free breast pump. If your insurance does not cover this expense, then I recommend the Spectra S2 as the perfect electric pump because it provides personalized settings to your preference for suction levels and cycling (expression and massage modes). In addition, all the Spectra pump parts are BPA free so it is safe for your baby.
Purchase a Hands-Free Nursing Bra to make it easier to pump at home and at work!
Invest in Lansinoh Breastmilk Bags to store breast milk in the freezer and refrigerator.
Pumping At Home
Pumping is practice, practice, practice. It is an adjustment for you as well as your baby. Two-three weeks before you return to work, start using the pump. I believe there are two ways to tackle the pumping journey.
Swap a nursing session with using the electric breast pump. This will help the baby learn to drink from a bottle and train your nipples to release milk without a baby.
Pump in between nursing sessions. This often occurs when the baby is asleep or content after a feeding.
Regardless which way you choose to begin pumping, there are essential steps to ensure a good pumping session. You should aim for a 15-20 minutes per session, and pumping every 2-4 hours if possible.
Wash hands prior to starting and make sure the pump parts are clean as well.
Find a quiet spot to sit and relax while you are pumping.
You can put a warm compress or massage your breasts to encourage letdown (when the breast releases milk).
Center your nipple in the flange for starting the pump.
Start the electric pump on the letdown phase (only for 1-2 minutes)
Switch to the suction phase (you will need to figure out which level works for you) and watch as the milk start flowing from your nipple into the bottle.
After you have finished the pumping session, pour the milk into plastic breastmilk bags for storage. When storing breastmilk, here is what you need to know:
If you store the freshly pumped milk in the freezer, it can last up to 6 months.
If you store the freshly pumped milk in the refrigerator, it can last up to 4 days.
If you leave the freshly pumped milk on the countertop, it can only last 4 hours.
Any thawed milk, only can last up to 24 hours in the refrigerator or 1-2 hours on countertop.
Any milk leftover from a feeding, use within 2 hours or throw it away.
After storing the breastmilk, clean the breast pump after each use. Wash all pump parts with soap and hot water to ensure any germs are dissipated. Then, let the parts air dry on a paper towel or rack for the next pumping session.
Pumping At Work
Now, that you know the essentials of pumping at home. Pumping at work involves using what you know and tackling it around your work schedule. Before the pandemic, I had a system down for my breast pumping needs. Every morning, I would feed my baby right before I left out the house for work. Then, I would pour the breastmilk from the storage bags into 2-3 bottles that would be for daycare.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a federal law (‘Break Time for Nursing Mothers’) “requires employers to provide break time to pump and a private space for moms to express breast milk at work. “ For my place of employment, nursing mothers have a private suite in the health suite for pumping. On a typical workday, I worked an 8.5 -hour shift from 6:30 am to 3:00 pm. During my work shift, I pre-scheduled two pumping sessions about 3-4 hours apart.
Before each pumping session, I would stay hydrated with water and often look at pictures of my baby to help get my breasts flowing with the milk. Each pumping session will last between 15-20 minutes. Afterwards, I will take the bottles with expressed milk and store in the insulated cooler bag with ice packs. Then, the cooler bag is place in the nursing refrigerator in the health suite.
Now, I must clean the breast pump and pump parts after each nursing session. After washing my hands, I just quickly scrub the parts with little soap and water. Dry it with a paper towel and place them back into the breast pump bag.
To all the nursing mothers, keep to the pumping schedule to ensure success at every pumping session. It is important to stay hydrated and eat snacks throughout the day. Also, do not discouraged if you do not pump as much as you would like. Practice, practice, practice!