November 21, 2011

Pumping Pitfalls

Workin' it!
via babygearcenterdotcom
As you take on pumping as a second job (third! you are now a Mom, too!), there are a few incidents you may be anxious about or want to avoid... Or want to commiserate about, if you've already experienced...

Finding time to pump. Regardless of how much time you take off from work, one thing you absolutely must do before returning to work if you plan to keep nursing, is schedule in your pumping sessions (and be mindful booking adjacent meetings). If you have some kind of a desk job, make regularly occurring meetings on your calendar for at least 20 minutes, probably 3 times per day, whenever you anticipate you would be feeding your little one. These breaks will vary as your baby consolidates feedings and eventually weans, but this is a good place to start. And don't forget to discuss this pumping with your boss. He or she has to allow you time to pump, but it is courteous to discuss your needs, and offer to work out a schedule that accommodates everyone. My boss actually had a baby a year before I did and she actually had lots of tips to offer, and was very supportive.
People knocking on your office door. Ugh! Especially when they should know what you are doing in there. Even as I have become comfortable with pumping at work (and other places), and breastfeeding just about anywhere, I still cannot bring myself to yell through my closed door, "Sorry I am busy right now!" C'mon people. The door is closed... you can hear the pump "whirrrring" in here... Ask me your question via the office instant messenger... or wait 10 minutes.

Crying over spilled milk. This is certainly a big risk from having to bottle the stuff and measure it out and cart it back and forth between work and home and daycare and other places out and about. I had a particularly frustrating day before returning to work, trying to build up a backup supply. My well-meaning hubby had given the baby our backup bottle, and I felt this overwhelming need to replace said bottle, even though it was bedtime. So after nursing (so I was pretty much on E, right?) I got out the pump and tried to see what I could get out. I was already stressed out about "needing" to pump, and it was late. So then to top it all off, when I finished pumping and had extracted a couple ounces (which felt sub-par, though was a decent amount, given all other circumstances), I promptly knocked over the uncapped container and spilled it all over the carpet. I definitely cried. Needless to say, the whole scenario could have been avoided, but I bring this up to say, that wastage of breast milk in any form is a feels like a personal hit. Take extra care when handling it to avoid the tears.

Not being able to pump enough. So I mentioned I am an IE, right? So I have a spreadsheet that I keep track of my pumping progress. I like to know if I have met my quota for the day; how today compares with yesterday, or last week; noticing that the left side has higher output than the right... etc. According to my sheet, I have pumped gallons of milk since returning to work. What a confidence booster!! But this also brings some stress, say, when I haven't made my daily quota, or if I notice a poor trend developing. The best advice I can give here, is know that you will have enough. And if you don't, it's OK. You can supplement with formula if you need to. Really.

the setup
via Medela
Not packing the supplies you need. You do not want to be caught without any of they key equipment needed to extract milk during the day, especially since you probably have a target (however much baby will need tomorrow with his caregiver!) and every ounce short induces panic (see above). One thing I have been short on before is enough milk receptacles. So I started packing several freezer bags just in case I forgot, or in case I had a great day, volume-wise and needed a place to put it all. This does actually happen, by the way and you definitely want to be able to capitalize on it. The apparatus - you definitely will need the pump and the "horns" and tubing, etc. I would recommend also having the AC adapter, of your pump is battery powered. At a La Leche League meeting, I learned that during the day I didn't need to do any cleaning between sessions since breast milk is basically magical enough to ward off bacteria for that short a time. They also advocated just a rinse in the evening, and a sterilization on the weekend. If you subscribe to this like I did then the only real opportunity to forget pieces if the setup is Sunday night/Monday morning, so be extra diligent that day. I kept the parts drying on a burp cloth together after cleaning preferably near the pump bag.  (see my pumping at work checklist for other items to pack).

Leaving the pump bag at work.  This is the worst feeling. If you live close and have time you can go back and get it. But it's a pain, and if you don't live close, you'll just cry. Again, try to keep it near things you won't - or better yet - can't forget, like your keys.

yummy muffin!
via dominosugardotcom
 Not eating or drinking enough. It is so easy to forget, especially as you start to get caught up in the day-to-day at work again. I recommend grabbing a big glass of water every time you go to pump. And pack snacks you'll look forward to, and that are portable. Also, our pediatrician recommended that I drink a glass or two of milk per day for the hydration and calories. I interpreted this as, 'you can drink all the chocolate milk you want'. So I packed a 9-oz baby bottle of skim milk and a couple tablespoons of Hershey's syrup, with a flat cap on top and kept it in the fridge at work to look forward to as a treat each day. I made big muffins on the weekend, and packed them as snacks (that I knew I would look forward to). I bought Luna bars by the caseload and kept them, and a water bottle, in my work bag at all times.

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