Going back to work isn’t easy. Neither is worrying about how you’re going to continue successfully feeding your baby breast milk while you’re away from him or her for eight hours at a time. I’ve been back at work for a month now and feel that I’ve gotten all the kinks worked out and would like to share them with you.
1. Before going back I highly recommend letting HR or your boss knows your plans to pump at work. You are legally protected and they must provide you with a designated room with a lock. This is where I failed first. I didn’t let them know my plans. Turns out there isn’t a single lock other than the bathrooms in my entire office. I had to use empty offices when they were available and sometimes sit in my car. I eventually was walked in on by a male coworker so I decided it was time to speak up. There are now locks on every door and they cleared out a corner in the storage room for me and set up a rocking chair and table. My output is so much better now that I can relax and not worry about whose going to come busting in.
2. I had planned on buying one of those nice Medela coolers but my local Target didn’t have it in stock. I ended up getting a regular lunch cooler from Walmart (the one shown above) and a few ice blocks and they have exceeded my expectations. The bottom storage area is the perfect size to fit my flanges and the top part has enough room for two ice packs and a few bottles. I then pack it all up and store it in the office fridge. I think my pumping makes some of my office mates uncomfortable so it’s a nice way to keep everything cool without shoving it in my coworkers face or grossing them out when I set it next to their lunch. ( I obviously don’t think it’s gross but I try to be respectful to especially my childless male coworkers :P)
3. I do not wash anything at work. I bring a quart ziplock bag, my flanges, two bottles to pump into, and one large one for storage. I’ve you’ve got a larger supply you may need more storage bottles. When I’m done the flanges go in the baggie and then into the bottom of the cooler. The milk is dumped into the storage bottle and then all of the bottles go in the top part with the ice packs. I zip it up and it all goes into the fridge until the next pump.
3. I’d like to write and say that I bought a fancy Nurse Purse, but I just haven’t been able to justify it. I’m actually using my old Vera Bradley diaper bag from my first son. It’s large enough to carry my pump, hands-free bra (If you don’t own one buy one!), some snacks and my wallet. I gave up on a purse a long time ago.
3. I’m able to pump 3 times a day. I try to keep it a set schedule so they know what to expect and can schedule around that. I typically pump at 9-12-3 for 30-40 minutes. I bring my laptop with me on my 9 & 3. Unless I’m meeting my husband for lunch I typically go grab something and come back and eat while I pump. I do my best to get completely empty each time.
4. I’m not an over supplier. I’m a just enough-er. I pump 9 oz at work and he eats approx 12. This means I pump at night whether or not he wakes up to eat. It’s the time I produce the most and it carries me through the day.
5. I would highly recommend starting your freezer stash in the early days when your engorged. This has saved me a lot of heartache. Now when I don’t always keep up I don’t stress when I have to thaw a few ounces. I know I still have plenty more in the freezer. Had I only had a small stash when I went back to work I would be constantly stressing about running out which is counterproductive when the goal is to relax.