An Hour a Day: Pumping at Work

So I know you’ve all been wondering exactly how, with a full time job 8-5 (actually 7:30-4:30) have I been able to post so frequently. The truth is that I am writing on my phone while I pump. Because after a month of shopping, surfing Facebook, and reading blog posts on my little phone, plus reading all the magazines in the lactation room here at work… I get bored pumping. What else would you do pumping 20-30 minutes (like 15-20 actively pumping) three times a day!? An ipad would be nice, don’t you think? haha

This is where I spend my time. Lots of magazines, I’ve looked at them all.

From here out, I’ll be discussing practicalities of pumping, so if that doesn’t interest you, feel free to stop here. You won’t be missing any cute baby pictures 🙂

There are nice lockers, though I don’t use them and neither does anyone else that I’ve noticed.

Pumping, just like breastfeeding, was a little intimidating at first. Let me tell you I did my research as far as scheduling goes. Based on my findings here’s what worked for me and what’s working now (just like babies, what worked before doesn’t always work later).

Before I start in let me say that I do not pump exclusively. I nurse whenever I can when Jameson will let me (because he likes his bottle during the day, sometimes I get fussiness/rejection on the weekends). Also I had a full term vaginal delivery and intended to go back to work full time. All these may factor in to your pumping routine, assuming you don’t have to pump right away with a baby in NICU or other complication/change in routine.

I have an Ameda Purely Yours pump in the nice backpack-style bag. It came with a car adapter which I thought was great, though of course I have never used it. It can run on batteries and regular power as well which is what I’m using most often. I wish I could say that I had a nice pro/con list for choosing the pump, but the truth is, I picked it out by price. I figured, you get what you pay for, and I was only willing to pay up to a certain amount. My choices I limited to automatic electronic pumps, so I could pump both sides at the same time to be more efficient. However, I have found myself very happy with my choice. I wipe it down after each session with the Medela Quick Clean Wipes which are a little pricey but can last longer by cutting in half since they’re a nice size.

I started pumping after breastfeeding was more established just shy of 3 weeks, and introduced the bottle around the same time. I had read that this was a good time to start, after you are no longer engorged and baby is nursing well. You don’t want to pump while engorged unless you are in severe pain, and then just a little, because your body will learn to make that much milk.

I added in a feeding instead of replacing a feeding and it took a couple weeks to have that feeding established. So unless I was going out somewhere, I only pumped once a day. I added in the feeding in the morning, which I read is when you have more milk. I was only pumping 2 oz or so from both sides, but he didn’t eat much at that age. At first I was concerned that I wasn’t pumping enough, but when I went back to work and was pumping exclusively during the day, I found that actually replacing a whole feeding with pumping versus adding in an extra feeding allowed me to pump a lot more. By that time too, he was eating more in his bottles, up to 4 oz. So when I went back to work, with the additional feeding, I had a stock pile of milk in the freezer that looked like it would last a week or more at least, assuming he would eat 3-4 bottles a day of 4 oz each.

Contrary to our original estimate, Jameson spent about a month in daycare (from about 3 months to 4 months of age) only eating 2 bottles at daycare of 4.2 oz or so each. At one day shy of 5 months old, he now has 3 bottles at daycare (very occasionally having just 2) and Jameson will now eat anywhere between 3 oz and 4.5 oz per bottle, so occasionally we have waste which is hard for me to see since I have worked so hard for each of his feedings. We use the Tommee Tippee bottles which are sold at Babies R Us. Brian doesn’t care for them very much, but Jameson likes them and there aren’t very many parts to clean which I like.

We had periods of him eating more and him eating less: I spent a lot of time reading up on various reasons for why something would change in his eating habits, both nursing and bottle feeding. I speculated that he was teething or wasn’t feeling well or going through a growth spurt. Brian and I discussed adding more milk to his bottles on occasion, but after some more reading, I found that babies who are breastfed do not actually increase their intake overall per day after 1-2 months of age until about 6-7 months old (assuming solid food starts to change that). Every baby is different, but we found that after whenever the temporary change in his habits was over, he would go back to his usual amounts.

Practically speaking, pumping at work is inconvenient, boring, and less effective than nursing. You can look at it many ways, and some days I feel like it is great to get to spend some time away from the desk and think about my son or a blog post or read an article. But many days it feels just like another form of work which isn’t fun at all. Additionally, at first I pumped very good amounts but that has slowly decreased to the point where I barely pump enough to cover what he eats per week.

At first, we sent him to daycare with two frozen and two fresh milk bottles, but after he never ate 4 bottles at daycare, we have since left one freezer bag at daycare for emergencies and instead send him with one frozen and two fresh milk bottles. When I say frozen, I mean that we send him with milk that was previously frozen which we thawed overnight in the fridge before pouring into the bottle the next morning. (In a pinch, thawing in cold water in the morning works too pretty quickly) We always put the frozen milk first in the front because once thawed, it must be eaten in 24 hours. The fresh milk which is usually from pumping the day prior or the day before that can be refrigerated for something like 7-8 days though it is always used by then.

It was so easy to pump at first, I think because of the extra feeding and because I was so in tune with being around a baby. The extra feeding was eliminated and so even pumping three times a day, I was pumping for enough for 4 feedings. I was storing a lot of milk, and I was excited with how easy it was for me.

Then, for about a week, I only pumped twice a day. Because so many people are using the room (there are a lot of women at my work place), there is a schedule and my times aren’t very convenient. I pumped at 9am, 11am, and 2:30pm. Moving to twice a day was a mistake, because I found my supply dwindled pretty quickly. I added back in a feeding, back to pumping about 3 times a day, but since then I often pump only enough for about 2-1/2 feedings. Some days its more and some days its less, but overall over a week, I pump just enough to cover his feedings. So I am still freezing some milk occasionally so that I can rotate the frozen milk supply, but it is concerning.

In addition, I now have to provide some milk for mixing with his cereal, so even less will rotate back to the freezer. I bought some more Ameda bottles for this purpose and so I don’t have to wash as much, though I usually am every night anyway. This milk is usually an additional 2 oz a day. The thing that I’ve found is that I need to eat well (which is hard when you want to continue to lose weight) and drink water to stay hydrated. I found that a good carb filled meal the night before helps with my supply the next morning, though I don’t/can’t eat a lot of carbs every night.

I had originally set myself a goal of 6 months, though now I am thinking I will go longer even if I have to start supplementing with some formula. My new goal is to continue as long as he is getting up at night for a feeding, because it is so convenient and easy to feed him at night by nursing.

The doctor said at the last appointment that babies can sleep through the night at 5 months or 15 pounds, so we have hit the mark of 5 months though I don’t think I’ll be making Jameson change his habits yet. As long as he is sleeping so good (I do not hear a peep from him until he needs his feeding and nothing after until the morning either), I think it will be just fine to continue as is. Knock on wood though because things can always change in an instant. He keeps things interesting!

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