Pumping for the Working Mama

If you have before or you plan to pump, you know that it can be quite the process. Now, bringing that process to work is a whole new story. I’m hoping to give you my tips and tricks for my journey of (now) 6 months of pumping at work everyday, including cleaning the parts and the supplies, that might make your life easier.

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Now, I can literally hear my mom’s voice in my head saying “Back in my day, we expressed our milk into mason jars and cleaned them with a towel.” Or something super simple and “you don’t NEED all that.” Also, I know she’s going to read this, Hi Mom, love you. And, she’s right! You don’t NEED all of these extras but if they can make your life easier for not a huge investment, why wouldn’t you?

Tip #1: Get yourself a bag, doesn’t have to be a “pump bag,” just a bag that works for you. I thought I wanted a pump bag when I first went back to work and those things are freakin’ expensive. I just recently got a super cute large purse from Old Navy, and I use that bag. Just be sure the bag fits your pump, the parts, and any other supplies you’d bring! I use my bag for everything… pump parts, pump, my planner, my Nuun energy tablets and my water bottle. One stop shop, I don’t have to bring anything else to work with me. Here’s the link to a really similar tote to the one that I got from Old Navy.

Tip #2: Cleaning tiny weird pump parts is a b!t*h. Don’t make it harder on yourself. I bring a roll of paper towels, for a place to air dry my parts, this Medela Sanitizer Spray, these Medela Quick Clean Wipes, and I’m about to invest in these bad boys: Micro-Steam Sanitizing Bags. I’m a little bit thorough and freakish when it comes to cleaning pump parts because I read way too many of those facebook horror story things. But, the cleaning is SO important! Did you know that if you aren’t able to rinse and clean them right away you should actually just put the parts into the refrigerator?! In a pinch, I’ll put my pump parts into a gallon sized ziploc and right into the fridge at work if I know that I can’t properly clean them until after work. But, usually I pull in one of these sanitizing methods for on-the-go use and it does the trick. I don’t even have a Medela pump but they have thought of ALL the things and Spectra, although a A+ pump, doesn’t have quite so many accessories.

Tip #3: Get a battery pack for your pump or a car-adapter plug-in. These things aren’t necessary for most jobs but, if you travel, you’ll need them! I know there’s been times I have been traveling and I’d much rather pull over and pump in my comfortable car than go find a random plug-in to hook up to and milk myself from. You can get fairly reasonable priced car adapters on Amazon, just be sure to check that it’s compatible with your pump because the last thing you want is lumpy overfilled boobs and a pump that went kaput on you.

Tip #4: Talk to your employer and ensure that you have the time and a place to pump (that isn’t a gross bathroom). Did you know, it’s federal law for most employers to give you the time and a place to do so?! I say most because just like most laws, there’s loopholes to this one too. Advocate for yourself and make sure you have a place to go that is comfortable and private and that you have time that they will not reprimand you for, that you can pump at work.

Tip #5: Find a fridge or freezer that you feel comfortable and safe storing your breastmilk in. For me, I share an office suite with just two other people in my department and they are both mothers themselves. They have no problem with my storing my bags of breast milk in the mini freezer in our office suite. This way it’s close by and I can grab it on my way home each day to transfer to our home freezer. If possible, maybe get a mini fridge/freezer for your own office to keep your milk.

Tip #6: Make sure you have enough storage containers (?). I prefer to pour my expressed milk straight into breast milk bags but, whatever works! If you keep your milk in bottles for later use, be sure you have enough of them in your bag for the day so that you don’t ever have to dump the beloved milk down the drain. If you’re lookin for a sturdy breast milk storage bag, go Medela ALL THE WAY. I’ve tried about five different brands and others get holes easily, the Medela bags are worth the splurge, 100%.

Tip#7: Be Proud, you life-creating, life-sustaining, super-mom, you! Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to close your door or excuse yourself from work to get it done. It’s important to you and it’s important to your baby, so it’s worth it! I used to get bothered by the fact that smoking co-workers got to step out to take smoke breaks, but now I see this as my healthy payback. I use this time to take a breather, reflect on my day, and make to-do lists to be productive for the remainder of my work day! Check out these cute privacy signs I found on Etsy if you want to add a little flare to your door while pumping. Like this cute one or this one.

That’s all I have for you! Now go forth and make milk… cheers and (as Dani and I always say) MOOOOO.

Are there any tips you found helpful that I forgot?! Leave them in the comments below, I’m always lookin’ for ways to make this even easier.