Exclusive pumping is probably another job by itself. It’s constant washing of pump parts, constantly thinking about your next pump, and always thinking about things like if you’ll be able to run to the store before you need to pump again.
But if you’re reading this you probably feel the same way I do. You want to provide what you feel is the best thing for your baby. You want to pump and give your baby breast milk for as long as you can. Once you go back to work it can be hard to keep up supply or find time to pump.
I went back to work when my daughter was 7 weeks old. I knew I wanted to pump at work to be able to continue to give my daughter breast milk. I learned things along the way, and while I’m not an expert I want to share what I do know!
How do you keep supply up while working?
This is probably the biggest question I see. It’s also one the biggest fears, that once you are away from your baby all day your supply will drop. The key that I have found to keep your supply up is a consistent schedule.
Getting in a routine will help everyone in the family. My pumping routine is pumping 5 times a day for 25 minutes for a total time span of 2 hours. I know, I know it’s a lot, but to keep your supply up you have to be consistent.
If you have a consistent schedule, your family will know when you need to pump and you can plan your day around those times. The weekends are a little harder for me, but overall I keep the same schedule.
You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Some people find their sweet spot and know how many pump times a day produces the most milk. Find a schedule that works best for you. You can break up the 2 hours however you would like to be able to keep your supply up.
I pump 5 times a day, but if you want to do 6 or 7 times that’s perfectly fine. Your pumping length would just decrease a little. To find out how many times to pump just divide 120 (2 hours) by the number of times you want to pump per day.
A couple other tips that help to keep your supply up are to drink plenty of water. I have noticed a definite increase in supply when I drink a lot of water the day before or even that day. The other tip that I have is eating oatmeal or eat oatmeal granola bars. I eat oatmeal for breakfast so this has helped with supply also.
What is the best pump for on the go?
My personal favorite is the Spectra S2. The S2 isn’t a huge pump so it will fit in a backpack which makes it easy to carry to work. It is quieter than others that I have heard. I have only used the Spectra and the Medela. I used for a few days at the hospital. The Medela that I used was definitely louder. It’s important to have a pump that has good suction otherwise you could end up with clogs or losing supply.
I also have the Spectra S9. The Spectra S9 is a little louder than the S2, but it is very mobile. It can fit into a smaller bag if you don’t want to carry a huge bag around. The S9 is rechargeable, and I got around 4 pumps out of it on a single charge. I found that the suction wasn’t quite up to the S2, but it was pretty similar. I was still able to maintain my supply when I used it.
Where should I pump?
Recently there was a law passed that employers have to provide a space for nursing mothers to pump. Ideally, you want a private, quiet space with a locking door. I’ve been very fortunate with my work, and have been able to have a nice space to pump in while at work.
If your pump has to be plugged in then you’ll want an area with a plugin. If there is a plugin but it’s kind of far from your pumping spot, be sure to keep an extension cord with you. The area should have a place for you to sit so that you can be comfortable and relaxed. Take water with you so that you can drink water while you pump.
Don’t forget mamas, that you are not in this alone! Pumping can be lonely sometimes, but there are other mamas out there feeling the same way. If you are on social media look for some support groups. They are full of tips and advice. When you are feeling down while pumping at work, remember who you are doing all this hard work for. You are doing an amazing job providing, in more ways than one, for your baby and family!