As part of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop, here’s been my experience working while pumping otherwise known as Ode to the Pump:
Most importantly see also my pump song.
I exclusively pumped with Bear for the whole first year because of the difficulty we had actually nursing. So me and the pump got to be quite good friends. With Bella I was luckily enough that nursing her was quite easy, but while I was on maternity leave with her I still pumped once every morning to build up a frozen stash for times I knew I would be away. I wish I had known the glory of the pump with Bear. I was so afraid to pump in those first few weeks because I didn’t want to be engorged anymore than I already was so I didn’t want to send a mixed message that there was more demand than actually existed. However, I was in so.much.pain. and the pump was able to give me the much needed relief.
When I got back to work I still had enough supply and Bella was still eating frequently enough that I felt like I was activating on a constant basis. Layering was very important. So were nursing pads. I went with the cotton ones (less expensive, more environmentally friendly) with Bear but I wised up and went with the disposable ones that absorb WAY more and never leak through this time around. Since I work 10 hour shifts and Bella’s been sleeping through the night for months I pump first thing in the morning when I wake up, twice at work and then once before going to bed. Lately, I’ve dropped the last pump before bed depending how late it was when I last pumped. And sometimes I only pump once at work depending on meetings or if I feel like it. And twice at all day conferences I only pumped before and after work and not once the whole day. Those reasons and the fact that at 8.5 months Bella eats a lot more solid foods and sleeps through the night (she takes 25 oz of milk during the daycare day) are why my supply has fallen quite sharply. This morning when I pumped at work I only got an ounce in 15 minutes. ABSURD. I used to pump 4-5 oz in that long of a session. Now to get any reasonable quantity I have to pump for at least 30 minutes, a privilege I don’t have during the work day.
It was easier when she was younger to pump more often. I had more milk. She drank more milk. I was fresh back from leave. Now, at almost nine months I feel strange slipping away from work 2x a day to pump. I feel a slight air of you’re still doing that? from co-workers. Plus, even in my own head its sort of like do I still have to do this? I have enough supply frozen that I could get by awhile, but not 3 months awhile and I don’t want to give her formula when I can produce milk.
Its hard to schedule pumping around meetings and impromptu pop ins at work. I’m lucky enough that my work has a dedicated mothering room for this purpose. Equipped with a cozy chair, bookcase of magazines and books, extra nursing pads, breastmilk storage bags, a mirror, the whole she-bang.
The hardest for me was those all day offsite training sessions. Plus, I have no adapter for my pump to pump in my car awkwardly in the parking lot. So I uncomfortably went without. In July, I’ll be in Orlando for a week long conference and I know I’ll have to sneak back to my hotel room between sessions or during meal breaks to pump and that sort of sucks. With Bear I pumped once in an airport bathroom, it just had to be done. In fact at the same conference 4 years ago I was pumping. However then Bear was only 5.5 months old so I had much more milk and demand to keep up. It was hard not being able to go to the after conference parties because I need to go pump.
In general, its hard to have to excuse yourself from professional situations for very personal reasons. I still haven’t thought of a good way to tell male co-workers that I can’t talk right now because I have to go to THE Room. I feel like if you really want it though you can make it work. Even if means pumping on a toilet stall or in your car, or hand pumping just to relieve the pressure (an awful thing I had to do once, talk about crying over spilled milk!) It’s doable.