When I was going back to work after maternity leave, one of my biggest fears was being able to keep up a good pumping schedule so I could keep DJ on breast milk for at least 6 months (although my long term goal is a year or more). I had so much anxiety around figuring out my new “routine”. I could just not wrap my head around how I would make all this work! There wasn’t a lot of resources online about the schedule of working moms that pump.
I have been back to work now for just over 2 months and I finally feel like we have a good routine going. Also, I use the Medela Freestyle pump. I love it but will have to do a review on it later!
6:30 – J and I are both dressed and ready for work. I get the baby changed and he “packs the bags”. It is so helpful that he knows what this means. I would highly suggest making a list for your husband to help with this or make sure its done the night before.
My pump bag includes:
- Medala Freestyle pump
- Pump wall charger
- 2 extra freezer milk storage bags
- Set of pump parts stored in the little medela cooler (we use a different cooler for bottles so this one just stores my parts but anything could be used).
- 6-8 bottles with flat lids (for pumping 3-4 times while at work)
- Sometimes I throw in a few pieces of chocolate!
I take DJ to daycare and feed her there from 7-7:30. This totally was not my plan but it works for us because J can help us get out the door (he leaves at 6:45) and she is more awake for her first feeding. Usually she only takes 1 side so sometimes I pump the other side while I drive to work. My drive between daycare and work takes about 25 minutes with lots of traffic lights. At my first long light, I set up my pump with one bottle and hook it up. I don’t use a hands free bra but just use one of my arms to hold the bump against me. After about 10-12 minutes, I wait until I hit another long light and I “unhook” and put everything away.
At work, I try to pump in the morning between 10 and 11 am. They have a pump room (required by law) with this little sign on the door:
Once inside I quickly set up my pump which looks like this (note, these are Gerber bottles, not the medela ones that came with the pump).
I usually pump for anywhere between 12 and 18 minutes. It requires a lot of compressions and keeping my mind off work stuff. My first pump of the morning usually yields between 4-6 ounces! Here you can see, my one side was almost 3. 5 ounces (she ate off this side at 7 am at daycare so it had been a good 3 hours) but the other side only produced 1.5 ounces (I had pumped this side on my way to work). This is a totally normal variance for me, but usually as the week goes on and my body gets used to pumping both sides at once it evens out.
DJ currently takes about 4 ounces per feeding at daycare. One time saving tip I found was to go ahead and combine milk after pumping to try to make full bottles. So in this instance, I would add a bit to the larger bottle to make it a full 4 ounce bottle and leave just a bit in the other bottle. This way, I know I have one full bottle ready for the morning and its less pouring to do at 6:30 am when we are half asleep!
After all that’s done, I run water through the breast shield to rinse out any milk left in the pump. I set on the counter to “drip dry”.
After that I set them back in the Medela cooler bag which I then throw with my bottles into the fridge downstairs.
This process takes me about 20 minutes in total. I am thankful my job is flexible enough to allow me this time. I will repeat this process on my lunch break and again in the afternoon. Sometimes I then will even pump on my way home if the baby has just been fed (sometimes she is waiting to eat as soon as I get home). Some days I only get 3 sessions in and some days I get in a lot more. So far I have been able to keep up with her 16 ounces per day and only dip into my freezer stash a little bit!