Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pumping at Work: 10 Tips

I realize that I'm only 2 days in and am by no means an expert on the topic, but I feel really good about my pumping at work routine, and spent a lot of time researching how to prepare to go back to work and still be successful at breastfeeding, so I thought I would share some tips that have been helpful for me.

Here's my little set-up (sorry for the phone pic quality):

Items I Have On-Hand At Each Pumping Session:
(Note: I am currently having to pump in the lobby of our private bathroom. I work at a University, so that explains the old school chair. However, within the next 2 weeks I will have curtains up on my door which will enable me to pump in the comfort of my own office. That will be glorious!)
1. My Udder Covers Nursing Cover (Style: Maria) **I plan to do a review of my 2 nursing covers soon!**
2. My Medela Pump In Style Double Pump, though currently I only use one bottle and pump one side at a time. (Note: This is an older style because it's a hand-me-down from my sister.)
3. Lansinoh Storage Bags & a Sharpie for writing ounces, date, etc. on the bag (I just keep it in my pump at all times). **I plan to do a review of Lansinoh vs. Medela Storage Bags soon!**
4. Lansinoh Breast Pads **I plan to do a review of Lansinoh vs. Medela vs. Cloth Breast Pads soon!**
5. Ice Pack
6. Cloth Wipe/Burp Cloth
7. Supply of Mother's Milk Herbal Tea
8. Iphone for looking at pics and videos of the baby, and for entertainment during those 20-30 minutes
9. Bottle of Water

Things are going pretty darn well! I was so incredibly nervous that I would lose my supply, so this is a huge sigh of relief. This morning I pumped 8 1/2 oz at my first session and then I got 6 oz at my second session! She is only eating 4 oz per feeding at this point, so I'm excited to be "banking" some for use when I have overnight work travel, for when we use it to make her rice cereal and baby food, and possibly--if I can keep it up, I may decide to donate some.

So based on the list above, and after a lot of blog/website searching, I have accumulated a little list of helpful tips for maintaining supply and having a productive pumping routine. Let me know if you have tips of your own to share or if you'd like more information on anything that I mention!
Tip #1: A nursing cover is really helpful to have on hand. Even if you're able to close your door, you never know when you might have to pump out of the office (ie on a lunch break or when out for a meeting of some sort), and--at least for me, the idea of a co-worker mistakingly walking in on me is too much to risk!

Tip #2: Another must-have for me is a stretchy microfiber cami. This is something that I always wear, pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, and especially now. I'm a big fan of the ones from the Limited and I also like the Gillian & O'Malley and Hanes ones from Target. Personally, I love that they're stretchy enough to pull down, so I'm able to keep my tummy and the other not-in-use-breast covered.

Tip #3: Buy an extra box of breast pads (if you use them) and milk storage bags to keep in your office. This will prevent you from having to remember to pack them each morning...because Lord knows you have enough to get together already!

Tip #4: Plan Ahead. Each night, I make sure I have all of my pump parts cleaned and packed and ready to go so all I have to do is grab the ice pack from the freezer and I'm out the door.

Tip #5: I didn't know this and it's been really helpful--you can use the same bottle/pump parts for each feeding throughout the day as long as you refrigerate them. This saves you from having to use several bottles and parts and also saves room. I've been able to avoid having to pack an actual cooler because I can fit everything into the little cooler portion of my pump since I only have one bottle.

Tip #6: Take video of your baby crying and cooing if you have a phone that will do so. This helps me, especially since I'm new to it. I'm able to think of Wren and I seem to have a pretty fast let-down.

Tip #7: Set reminders on your calendar each morning. Nursing is all about supply & demand, so if you miss a pumping session it can impact your supply. I'm so scared that I will forget (though I have a feeling my boobs won't allow me to forget!), so setting a meeting reminder on my Outlook has helped me to be sure I don't let it slip. Plus it forces me to look at my day and figure out if there are meetings that might interfere with a pumping session, in which case I need to be prepared to pump earlier or later.

Tip #8: Fluids! Mother's Milk is an herbal tea that is supposed to support/increase lactation. I can only say that I just started this on Sunday but I have already seen an increase in my production. Granted, things are different in terms of feeding her on demand and pumping so it's hard to say whether my increased production is due to that change or to the milk, but to me it is worth having a cup in the morning (at work) and one in the evening. Also, as for the water, I have found that making my pumping time a designated water-drinking time is helpful. Normally, I use a large (32oz, maybe) reusable water bottle but I forgot it this morning. I'm not in the habit of using bottled water, but I had taken everything home with me before my maternity leave and haven't gotten everything back yet. Anyway, I have found that if I require myself to drink a filled bottle of water at each pumping session, it helps me to keep my daily water intake up. VERY important to me!!

Tip #9: I've been able to "squeeze" (literally!) an extra 1/2 to 1 ounce out of each session by massaging each breast. I start from up near my armpit and really try to work around the entire area. This is a tip that seems pretty obvious but I wouldn't necessarily have thought about it!

Tip #10: Find resources. My personal favorite? I stumbled upon Candid Mommy's You Tube Channel and I have to say I have learned SO much from her. She is so adorable, really down to Earth and very sweet, and I have scoured her videos for lots of tips. She is a master milk producer!! (Seriously--she still nurses her almost-2 year old AND supplied milk for another baby through donor milk for the entire first year of his life!) She has a very unassuming way of telling you her experiences without making you feel like it HAS to be that way. So...if you're a new or soon-to-be nursing mom looking for some resources, I highly recommend heading over and catching up on her videos. She has a series of nursing Q&A videos that I have found to be really helpful.

Okay, well--there you have it! Like I said before, please let me know your thoughts and if you have other helpful tips I would love to hear those as well! Have a great day everyone.


  1. Thank you!!! This great info! I'm going back to work tomorrow, so this is just in time. One question--when you say to refrigerate your pump parts, do you mean you can refrigerate them without washing them or washing them first? TIA! :)

  2. Great info!!! I am in awe of your supply! You already read my post but I have no idea why I don't have much at all. I'm hoping our pedi has some info to offer me on Monday and I'm going to look into seeing a LC. If possible I'd LOVE to have enough stored to last until he's a year but who knows. What brand Mother's Milk tea and where did you get it from?

  3. @Tina-You can refrigerate everything with milk still in/on it. So pump into a bottle, pour everything into your storage bag and then refrigerate the storage bag along with the bottle/nipple shield/etc. with the leftover milk residue on it. It's just like refrigerating the milk itself so it will be fine until your next pumping session. Good luck tomorrow!!

    @Samantha-You will build it up. My best suggestion, and something I wish I'd started earlier, is to pump after every single feeding, or as often as you possibly can. Some people even do a "power pump" between feedings and that will help to build your supply. As for the Mother's Milk, it's Traditional Medicinals and I got it at Target in the tea aisle...I think it's pretty abundant. If you click on the link in my post you can find the website and get a coupon for $1.50 off. It's really helped me. Hang in there! You can build slowly and everything will be great! Also, be sure to check out Candid Mommy on You Tube, I was really inspired by her and she has a ton of great info.

  4. Thank you!!! I read your comment just as I was pumping my first batch. I can't believe you got 8 oz. in your first pump! That's amazing! I was happy just to get my 4.5 oz. :) I think I need to start drinking Mother's Milk Tea again. ;)

  5. You are so blessed that breastfeeding has worked out for you and now you are having so much success with pumping. I wasn't able to breastfeed and pumping wasn't that successful either. I've been supplementing since the beginning, but just stopped pumping last week (my lil' man is 3 months). The most I ever pumped was about 2 oz. a session (low production may be due to me only having half my thyroid). Anyways, keep it up!! Cutie pie Wren is a lucky girl to have such a great Mommy! :)

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