Don’t be intimidated by pumping breastmilk! Once you have the products you need and get into the routine, you can get everything done in 10 to 15 minutes! This post has great tips for returning to work or if you are pumping breast milk at home!
This post is broken down into these points for Pumping Breastmilk:
- Things to Think About if You are Returning to Work
- Products You’ll Need to Pump
- Process of Pumping Breast milk
Things to Think About if You are Going Back to Work
- Time yourself when you are pumping at home so you know about how long it will take you to pump, clean supplies, and put the milk away. This way you can determine how long you are going to need to do it at work.
- Then, come up with a plan on where and what time you are going to pump when you go back. Go in and talk to your employer before you start back! Especially if you’re not sure how you are going to be able to escape the demands of your job for a few minutes.
*Since I was a teacher, I couldn’t show up on my first day back with a room full of kids trying to “wing it”. My boobs might have exploded before I figured out when I was going to squeeze pumping into my schedule…haha!
I went to my school the day before I was supposed to return and talked to my principal. I verified that it was fine for me to lock my classroom, put a sign on the door to warn people not to come in, and pump during my teacher planning time and lunch.
Other breastfeeding teachers whose schedules didn’t work out as well as mine, needed a para pro to cover their classes for a certain time every day.
Products You’ll Need for Pumping Breastmilk
Medela Breast Pump:
I have the Medela Pump In Style Double Electric Breast Pump. I chose this breast pump because it had the best reviews out of the options my insurance covered. It worked well and I never had any problems with it!
I applied through this website and my insurance covered everything.
The website made the process really easy! All I did was fill out the form and they took care of the rest.
The pump shipped quickly and the best part was, they sent me free pumping supplies every 3 months until my son was a year old! I just had to keep an eye on my email! Every few months, my Aeroflow representative would send me an email asking if I wanted the next shipment and I clicked yes or no! Superrrr Easy!
Diaper Bag as a cheaper alternative to a Breast Pump Bag:
My insurance didn’t cover a bag for my breast pump and the ones specifically made for a pump are expensive! I bought a cheap diaper bag from Walmart and it worked great.
I placed my pump at the bottom of the bag with the pump face up. Then, I would sit the bag by my desk and the tubes were able to reach me just fine.
Breast Pump Converters:
Pack whatever bottles your baby prefers, and pump straight into those using breast pump converters! So, this was a game-changer for me. Maybe most people know about this, but I sure didn’t!
My son used Advent bottles and the bottles did not fit my breast pump shield. I was pumping into the bottles that came with the Medela pump, then pouring them into the Advent bottles. That meant MORE BOTTLE CLEANING andddd nobody wants that!
Finally, a friend told me about breast pump converters! It twists on to the bottom of the shield/flange and the top of the bottle. This way you can attach the type of bottles you prefer! Wahooo! No more washing twice the amount of bottles needed!Pump Parts:
Including Tubing, Breast shield/flange, valve and membranes. These things should be included with your breast pump but I’d suggest buying extra! Or keeping and collecting a stash of them if your insurance sends you replacement parts every few months like mine did!
Tip: Keep one extra of all of these either in your car or somewhere at work! Just in case you forget something one day! I forgot a baby bottle once and had to go home and get it. I wish I had been more prepared!
Hands-Free Pumping Bra:
So, I was a special education teacher and the job comes with A LOT of paperwork. I mean like A LOT, A LOT. So whenever I was pumping, I was also writing special education paperwork on my laptop.
I had several hands-free breast pumping bras that I would alternate wearing to work. It holds the shield in place for you, so you can pump while still doing what you need to! Tiny Mini Fridge or Mini Fridge:
Okay, so a mini-fridge may not be realistic for everyone depending on your job (although you will need a fridge, ice packs, something to keep the milk cold all day).
I was teaching and the only full-size refrigerator was in the teacher’s lounge and was wayyyyy across on the other side of the school. No way I wanted to make that trip several times a day.
Thankfully we were allowed to have mini-fridges in our classrooms. You can get really tiny ones that pretty much only hold your milk if space at your work is an issue. Breast Pads:
I kept a few disposable breast pads in my pump bag in case my milk let down and soaked the ones I was wearing. I had to use disposable breast pads instead of cloth pads. My milk would letdown and soak right through cloth pads! You may want to keep an extra shirt in your car too. You NEVER KNOW! #milkproblems
So I’ll explain my process when I pumped down below, but if you are pumping the milk to put in the freezer, pack freezer bags!
Make sure to label them with the date and time it was pumped. There are also attachments to pump directly into bags so you can skip pumping into the bottles altogether!
Easy Connect Adapters:
Forget the bottles altogether and pump directly into freezer bags! I would recommend this if you aren’t going to use the milk in the next few days after you pump it!
Sanitation Bags and Sanitation Wipes:
If you have the time and an accessible microwave, go ahead and clean and sterilize your pump parts and keep them at work. If you’re like me and didn’t have easy access to a microwave, use the sanitation wipes, wipe them down read good, and store them in the fridge until you can take them to clean really well!
Process of Pumping Breastmilk
*I was pumping at work twice a day. My son was eating every 3 hours.
I fed him before I left for work. Then, he got two bottles while I was gone. When I got home, it was time to breastfeed him again.
I pumped once during my teacher planning time and the second time was during my lunch, it just worked out timing-wise.
My milk would let down fast and quick! At the most it would only take me about 15 minutes to pump, clean up, and store the milk.
Why I Pumped Breastmilk One Boob at a Time:
Okay, so I am going against the norm here. Most people will tell you that to save time, to pump both boobs at the same time. It DOES help you get through much faster!
Since I was already able to pump pretty quickly, I did one side at a time BECAUSE it was LESS TO CLEAN. I hated washing/sterilizing bottles and pumping supplies so I was all about having less. to. clean.
Every day at work I brought TWO Advent bottles and only ONE Breast Shield/Flange, ONE bottle converter, and ONE valve & membrane.
The two bottles I pumped into at work would be the two bottles my son would get the next day. So, I never really used freezer bags unless I had pumped extra.
I pumped for 6 or 7 minutes on one boob, placing the breast shield through my pumping bra while I worked on what I needed to on my computer.
Then I would take the shield out and place it on the other boob and pump for another 6 or 7 minutes. Then, I’d put a nipple and cap on the bottle and BAM bottle was ready for my baby the next day.
The second time I pumped, I used the same breast shield and pumped in the second bottle I brought.
Cleaning Up After Pumping Breastmilk:
I didn’t have a microwave in my classroom. If I did, I would have used sterilization pouches and sterilized the pump parts while I was at work.
But since I didn’t, I used sanitation wipes and cleaned the pump supplies as best I could. I kept them in a gallon-sized bag in the fridge.
When I pumped the second time, I grabbed the second bottle I packed and the pump supplies from the fridge that I used the first time. Afterward, I again wiped the pump parts down with the wipe, put the supplies in the gallon-sized bag, and stored it in the fridge.
Since the pump parts were wiped with the sanitation wipe and stored in the fridge, I did not bring them home to clean and sterilize every day. I probably did about every other day.
My understanding is that it’s best not to mix cold and warm breast milk. So I didn’t want to double pump, put both bottles in the fridge, and then get the cold milk out and add pumped warm milk to it.
If I had double pumped and poured the milk into one bottle, I would have an extra bottle to wash. When I pumped the second time, I would have needed 3 bottles each day. One with the milk pumped earlier that day and two additional bottles to double pump the second time.
This is a personal preference, I was able to pump fast and wanted to cut down on cleaning. If you are pressed for time, double pumping is the way to go!
Last Little Tip on Pumping Breast milk:
Since the bottles I pumped were for baby the next day, I needed to remember to bring them home! I put a sticky note on the back of my door that said “don’t forget milk” for a little reminder to grab the bottles out of the fridge on my way out.
Although, I had extra milk in my freezer that I stashed away during maternity leave JUST in case I did forget it.
For the pumped breast milk I produced on Friday, I’d take it home and put it in the back of the fridge to use Monday. If it makes you feel better, freeze it over the weekend and thaw it out Sunday night!
That sweet little baby is lucky to have a mother that works hard to provide what he or she needs. Be confident that you’re doing what is best for you and your family…whether you are pumping at work or exclusive pumping instead of breastfeeding!