This year's World Breastfeeding Week theme is: Breastfeeding and Work Let's Make it Work!
I live in Canada, land of the mystical year-long maternity/parental leave, but I went back to work when Grady was six months old (and Shawn took six months of parental leave). Grady was exclusively breastfed until he was six months old and then we started to introduce solids. He still breastfed multiple times per day, though, so I had to figure out how to maintain my breastmilk supply and alleviate engorgement while at work. Pumping was the easy (ha!) solution.
There are a lot of factors that go into pumping at work - your schedule, how much breastmilk your baby eats versus how much you are able to pump, a clean, private location to pump, your supervisor's willingness to work with your needs as a breastfeeding mama, etc. Beyond all that, there's the fact that pumping can be time-consuming and not a lot of fun. I pumped at work for six months and I picked up a few tips and tricks to help make pumping less onerous.
Let me just start off by saying this is not a sponsored post, these are products that I have used or wish I had known about to use. I work for Snugabell now but I didn't when I used their product and they are not paying me to say nice things about them (I just really really love them and believe in their products). Affiliate links are at the bottom if you are making a purchase and want to spread the love. Right! Have I covered all the disclosure-y things? Onward!
The single most useful thing I used while pumping at work (apart from my pump, of course) was my PumpEase hands-free pumping bra. I chose the Organic option but I'm seriously in love with the fun prints and bright colours. My PumpEase allowed me to hook up my pump and forget about it. I answered email, read and edited documents, or relaxed with a book or my phone while I pumped. My PumpEase allowed me to multitask because I didn't have to hold my flanges. I also found that my breastmilk output was higher when I wasn't concentrating on how much I was pumping. My mind was elsewhere and my body was relaxed so I was able to pump more milk. Snugabell introduced their PumpEase Wet Bag after my pumping days (sad face) but I would have loved one to store my pump parts in the fridge between pumping sessions. (Did you know you don't have to wash your pump parts after each session? Just give them a quick rinse and pop in the fridge!)
I used an ugly, bulky diaper bag with a tiny cooler pocket to transport my pump and bottles. I wish Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bags were around when I was pumping. I keep trying to justify buying the Lizzy now even though I haven't pumped in years and don't expect to be pumping in the foreseeable future.
The Nursing Mother's Companion was my bible. It gave me reassurance and comfort, and was written in such a way that the information was totally accessible. No overly technical words or science-y explanations to overwhelm my sleep-deprived brain.
Groups like The Leaky Boob who provide support and encouragement and a wealth of information (check out this section of Pumping Pro Tips!) My schedule didn't allow me to attend La Leche League meetings in my area so I had to go online for support. Fortunately I was able to find a lot of answers with just a few clicks. The support is out there, you just have to know where to look to find it.
Did you pump when you went back to work? What made your pumping experience easier or more difficult?
Affiliate links because mama needs a new pair of shoes: