Guest Post: Pumping at Work 101

Pumping at Work 101 | CorporettePumping at work: it’s one of the toughest parts of going back to work after maternity leave. In past posts we’ve covered what to wear to pump at work, how to manage pumping in different offices, pumping during work travel, and how to dress professionally when you go back to work (when your pre-pregnancy clothes still don’t fit). Today Reader K gives you some basic tips for pumping at work and recommends a few helpful products. Thank you, K!

My best friend gave me great advice before I went back to work: The dread is worse than the reality. I was nervous about leaving my little guy with someone I barely knew; I was nervous I would not be as good at my job as I had been before I left for leave; I was nervous that I would sit at my desk missing him all day. Basically, I was nervous about everything.

But now, seven months in, it hasn’t been that bad. For the most part, I have managed to focus completely on whatever I’m doing, whether work or home life. That means I am really efficient at work and then don’t really check my email once I get home until after my son goes to bed. (Fortunately, we hit the baby jackpot and got a great sleeper.) The hardest part, though, was pumping at work. After reading comments here and talking to my sister and some friends, I got into my routine. (Pictured: breast pump overload, originally uploaded to Flickr by madichan.)

professional pumping shirtFirst of all, stick to a schedule. Put it on your calendar. Don’t vary. You can get yourself into trouble rather quickly if you miss a pumping session. Second, wear clothes that have button fronts, especially if they are patterned (to hide any, ahem, mishaps). This one from Banana Republic (pictured)  is a good example. You may want to size up because your body may change shapes throughout the day depending on when you last pumped. Third — and people have different approaches to this one — I found the best plan was to lock my door and then not answer if someone knocked. Otherwise, it’s just awkward. Anything you say (“One moment please!” “Who is it?”) may lead to a weird conversation and leave people wondering what exactly you’re doing in there. Fourth, wear these. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

It was also challenging to figure out how to do it all logistically. I had one of these totes that I kept the little Medela bottles in. It has a built-in ice pack, which means you have to remember to put it in the freezer every night. That was a better plan for me than trekking back and forth to the office fridge several times a day, plus remembering to get your milk at the end of the day when you’re just ready to get home to your little one. The Mayo Clinic says unrefrigerated milk lasts up to six hours, so I was comfortable leaving the milk in that bag with an ice pack for a little longer than that. In reality, only milk from your first pumping session is going to be out that long. I also recommend the Kelly Mom blog as a great resource for any questions about breastfeeding and pumping.

I also liked to bring a burp cloth to set on my lap while I was pumping. And I reused a single set of parts during the day, usually wiping them down with these wipes. I know some people who brought a wet bag and enough sets of accessories to use a different one each time. I didn’t want to carry that stuff with me, so I tried to streamline. And last, buy yourself a present after it’s all over, because you’re a champ for doing it any length of time. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make it a year. It’s tougher than most people think. You are doing a service to your baby regardless of how long you make it. Remember that!

Finally, you’re probably going to have to reveal to the people you work with that you’re pumping, and you’re just going to have to get over it.  Exhibit A: Sitting on the dirty floor of the courtroom bathroom pumping, wearing a suit, wishing I had been more upfront and not ended up in that particular situation.  If I had it to do over again, I would have told the partners at the beginning of the day when I would need a break and then asked the courthouse staff if there were a better place to pump.  As it was, I went way too long, was in pain and distracted, and then had to dump the milk anyway.  And on that note: buy one of these battery packs.

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Comments

  1. Great post! I read it as I was sitting, you guessed it, pumping at my desk.

    My LO is almost 9 months old and since I was able to take 7 months’ maternity leave, I have only been pumping at work for less than 2 months….and I am finding it really, really cuts into my day. I am currently pumping 3 times per day (8:30, 11:30, 3:30) and figure that pretty soon I should be able to reduce to twice per day since my daughter seems to be taking less milk now during the day. But any tips on productivity and pumping? No need to mention the Freemie…I have already considered it and decided not to use it. It’s more just the fact that my day feels so chopped up. What have the rest of you done to minimize the impact on your working day and maximize productivity?

    Thanks!

    • For productivity, I found that the break to pump would always be followed by 20 minutes of trying to figure out where I was before I left, which meant that each pumping session ate up closer to 45 minutes of work. I started being more flexible about pumping times and trying to work them around natural breaks in my workflow. For example, right after sending off some work product, take the break to pump and then start your next thing. Or pump right before a conference call, because the call itself will jumpstart you back into work (unless you have to lead the call – then you might need the before time to prep!). In contrast to the guest poster, I was pretty lax about times and tried to generally stick to a morning/lunch/late afternoon schedule, but worked it around what I was doing that day. Also, dropping down to two sessions a day is a huge relief and it sounds like you’re almost there!

    • Spirograph says:

      I agree to plan your pumping times around natural interruptions in your day to the max extent possible. I was regimented about my morning pumping time: 8:30-9, right before morning staff meetings. Basically I’d come in, check my e-mail, take care of some quick, easy things, and then plan on starting “real” work after the meetings. The staff meetings would invariably result in something I needed to do RIGHT NOW, so trying to pump afterward would have been disastrous.

      My afternoon pumping time was much more flexible. I think I planned on around 1:00, but that was give or take an hour based on what I was doing that day. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t have my own office, so used the pumping room in my building. If I wanted/needed to be productive for those 20ish minutes, I’d print documents that I needed to review and take those with me. I’d usually read when pumping anyway, so reading work-stuff vs reading for pleasure was an easy switch. I guess a person gets used to anything if necessary, but I just can’t with using a computer while pumping.

      Cut out the 3rd pumping time as soon as you can — it makes a huge difference. I only did it for a few weeks; there just weren’t enough hours in the day for me to take 3 breaks. This may vary by individual, but especially after several months, I never had any problems with leakage and only minimal discomfort even if I was very late to pump in the afternoon (there were days I’d have to wait until after 4). Maybe the lack of a firm schedule made my body more instantly adaptable?

    • Melissa says:

      There are other ways to hands-free pump besides the Freemie. Look at the various holsters that can be used with your current pump. I had one that was like a bandeau top with a zipper int he front. I could just wrap it around my chest and insert the flanges and attach the pump. It kept the flanges flush and allowed me to use my hands for massage or to be product on the computer/ipad. I spend a lot of this time getting a handle on my inbox–moving things to folders, deleting garbage or responding to quick messages. I was also able to install the mobile version of my companies instant message app so that colleagues could still reach out during my pumping time if they needed a quick answer. Sometimes I used pumping time to catch up on my professional reading. I would either print out articles I wanted to read as they came into my inbox and let them stack up in anticipation of a pumping session, or I would access the online versions on my ipad from an email folder.
      Another thing that I did to control the interruptions was to pump on the way to work and on the way home. I just used a car charger thing for the pump, the hand free bandeau thing and a nursing cover. Set it up before driving away from my house and unhooking when I got to the parking lot at work. This allowed me to capture more of the higher supply during the morning.

  2. My LO is almost 8 months – I’ve gone down to pumping twice a day, and noticed only a slight dip in “production”. (We’ve already begun to supplement with formula and it works for us.)

    I will also throw out, I’ve had great success with my hand-held pump for days when I’m out at meetings, events, travel, etc. I strongly encourage everyone to invest the $30 and try it. Pumping standing up in a bathroom stall sure beats hunched over a bathroom sink, in the open, near an outlet.

    • Anastasia says:

      +1. The manual pump was probably the best $30 I spent.

    • Nonny says:

      Really? I have the Medela Pump in Style but it is secondhand from a friend and one of my worst fears is that it will just conk out one day without notice, so I’ve been thinking of getting a backup. Which manual pump do you recommend?

      • I use the Medela Harmony, and it works great for me. For reasons completely unknown, I need to alternate between the two pumping modes during a 10 minute session on each side (you flip the handle around 180 degrees) in order to get the same amount as a normal electric pump.

        • Anastasia says:

          I also have the Harmony. I already had the Pump in Style, so it was just easier to have all the accessories compatible.

      • Meg Murry says:

        I had both the Avent Isis and the Medela Harmony. I liked the Avent Isis a tiny bit better as a manual pump, but I had Avent bottles so at least that all went together. The nice thing about the Medela Harmony though is that is uses the same valves and diaphragms (yellow piece and white flaps) , flanges (horns) and bottles as the PIS/PISA, so all you have to do is throw the handle and part that connects the flanges to the bottle in your pump bag and you have a backup. You can also connect it to the milk storage bags, and then you have a tiny pump that can even fit in a moderate sized purse.

        Also, if you haven’t already, buy a pack of diaphragms on Amazon and keep them in your bag. They are the easiest part to lose or forget. Or even a whole second set of parts.

        • I agree with all the second set of parts suggestions. Who knew those diaphragms would be so crucial and so easy to misplace (or bend)?

    • Avril says:

      Good suggestion also for when someone is working at a field site, think engineers, marine scientists etc where you may not exactly know the setup of the place where you are going to spend your day.

    • I think the manual pump (Medela Harmony is what I have) is a good thing to have too. Would definitely help for those who travel, field site, etc. and as backup but I also like it at home when maybe I just need to pump real quick before bed or baby got a bottle cause I got home late and I don’t want to have to sit. I can be a little more mobile with the hand pump. I’ve found it can still be surprisingly efficient too.

      • Nonny says:

        Thanks, everyone. I am sold on the hand pump as a backup. You should all get commissions from Medela. :-)

  3. Spirograph says:

    The best advice I got about pumping was actually from the main s1te… I reused the parts for each session during the day, and just put them in my cooler bag with the bottles in the fridge. Even easier than wiping them clean with special wipes that I would have to remember to restock (I did a cursory wipe with a paper towel, of course).

    • I tried this, but could not get past cold pump parts each time I had to nurse! I just bought 3 sets.

    • +1. This has been my biggest timesaver. Plus a mini fridge in my office so I don’t need to lug milk and pump parts to/from the main office fridge.

  4. Hot pink says:

    I exclusively pumped for 14 months. Can’t believe that I did it and I’m darn proud of myself. In the intial months, I was pumping upwards of 10 times a day (yes you read that right) in order to maintain supply. So when I finally went back to work after 6 months, I was down to just 4 pumps a day and found pumping at work to be a total breeze, since I was so used to being hooked to a pump around the clock. I pumped in a private lactation room that you could only access with a special key. I never wore any pump friendly clothing. In fact, I mostly wore sheath dresses and would be pumping half disrobed! But because the room was so private, I didn’t care.

    I agree with the guest poster that keeping on a schedule is key. If you miss a session, it hurts and it can impact supply. I also found just using one set of parts and putting them in the fridge immediately after, in a ziplock bag, saved a lot of time. I didn’t even wipe them down.

    I’m now pregnant with #2 and am really really hoping that I don’t have to go the exclusive pumping route because it was hard. But, let’s see how nursing goes. I’m cautiously optimistic.

    I never found myself productive while pumping. Sometimes I would read a case or two, but more often than not I would be reading the responses here!

  5. Somewhat pumping related question..

    There is a daycare on-site at my office. Is it ridiculous to think if I used this daycare I could do one of my sessions (say, at lunch) with the baby actually nursing instead of pumping? It’s about a five minute walk to the daycare, so I would think that wouldn’t take much longer than all the rigmarole of pumping? Not sure it’d be feasible for all feedings (it makes sense I’d need to pump to have milk to give the daycare anyway, not to mention walking over to the daycare multiple times a day) but it is the main reason I’d consider this daycare. It’s pretty pricey (in line with our area, but still much more than in-home daycare) but I’m wondering if removing some of the hassle from pumping would be worth it?

    Has anyone done this and can comment?

    [and yes I’m not even pregnant yet but I’m already thinking about these things :) The daycare fills up fast, so I’m trying to figure out if the convenience would be worth it to get our names on the waitlist asap.]

    • One of my mom friends at my daycare did this. Her office was a few blocks away, so she would bike over twice a day and nurse her baby. (I think she kept a few bottles frozen at daycare in case something came up last minute). I think it depends on your baby – if s/he cries each time you leave it might be more trouble than it’s worth, but if you can schedule it in, it’s certainly doable.

    • Hot pink says:

      I have colleagues who have done this but a few considerations:

      1. You may want to nurse at daycare but your baby is fast asleep, so you’ll need to replace with pumping
      2. As your baby gets older, he/she will experience more separation anxiety so visiting him/her at daycare during the day can actually make things worse. I stopped visiting my son at his daycare (which is about a 5 minute walk away) after he started pitching fits when I left. Too disruptive for the both of us.
      3. It’s unlikely you will just nurse and then leave immediately. You’ll probably want to hang out a bit, cuddle, etc. So in the end, it might not save as much time as you think.

      • thanks – this is the sort of insight I was looking for!

      • hoola hoopa says:

        I did this with my first. She was home with my husband during the day, but our house was only five minutes away, so I’d go home over at lunch. I completely agree with all these points.

        I’d stay for about an hour and eat lunch there, so the longer visit wasn’t a problem and I happily did it for several months. With her eating schedule and the short commute, I was able to avoid pumping almost entirely because she usually never had a bottle. I had manual pump on hand for random bottles for days I couldn’t go home, etc.

        But I decided just to pump with the next kid. My day was busy, it seems more disruptive in a daycare setting (my husband wasn’t SAH any more), and she wouldn’t have done as well with me coming and going.

        A friend got her kid into the workplace daycare center with the same plan but ended up never making it work. The location was difficult for her husband to share pick-up/drop-off, and eventually they moved the child to a more centrally located center and life for all improved.

    • (former) preg 3L says:

      IME, totally not practical to think you can nurse in the middle of baby’s day. Unless you get your baby on a schedule and your daycare supports/maintains that schedule, it’s highly unrealistic to think that you’ll be able to coordinate your need to nurse with your baby’s hunger. Also, my daughter takes very different amounts from a bottle versus from nursing — she’s old enough (at 7 months) that now she wants to play and nurse at the same time, so nursing takes much longer than it used to. (Over the summer, when she was 4-5 months old, I was studying for the bar exam and had dreams of stopping by her daycare, which was just a 5-minute walk from where I studied, so that I wouldn’t have to pump. It never worked. I’d stop by and she wouldn’t be hungry, or she’d be sleeping, or she would only nurse on one side and I’d have to pump the other side.)

    • Elissa says:

      I am currently doing this with my 4 month old. It is fabulous. The day care is actually in my building, and her class teachers call or text me when she is awake from her nap and ready to eat. It’s more like a Mother’s Day Out program and is only offered 3 days a week, so I still have to pump the other days, but it is SO nice to pack up my pump on Tuesday afternoon and know I don’t have to pump at work for 5 more days. The only downside is I have to be ready to head down right when they let me know she’s awake, which could be anytime from 11:-5 to 12:30. I feed her in an empty room next to her class. If I had an important lunch meeting I would bring pumped milk but haven’t had to do that yet. I also feed her in my office at 9 before it opens at 930, and when I pick her up at 230, and my mom comes to take her home. We’ve got a setup worked out where I lay her on a big pillow at my desk and can still type/work over her at this point. It is a fantastic benefit, and I know it won’t last forever so I’m trying to really enjoy it. I do have to admit I try to get my major tasks and projects of the week mostly accomplished the days she isn’t here, and use the days she is for emails, planning, and other more stationary tasks. I agree, the dread of it is absolutely the worst part. Good luck!

    • DC Mom says:

      It probably depends on your baby, but at the child care at my partner’s work, three of the moms come to the center and nurse at lunch (and sometimes throughout the afternoon!). I actually work a Metro stop away, so I Metro there at lunch, feed her, and Metro back. I really loathe pumping. But at times, her class can be out on a walk, or she’s asleep and I have to wake her up, or the red line can have unreasonable delays. As long as they have extra milk and you can pump if you need to, I don’t think it is unrealistic plan.

      The babies in question are currently 6 and 7 months old.

  6. I am very grateful that my company has a lactation room with a refrigerator, computer, desk, and comfortable couch. We all have laptops, so when it’s time to pump (3x a day for me, as my son is just 4 months old) I take my laptop and go to the lactation room. I am able to get my pumping gear on and working within a few minutes, and then I work away while I pump. I either wipe down my gear with pump wipes or store the parts in the fridge between sessions, and then do a full soap and steam clean in the office kitchen at the end of the day. While I realize that I am lucky to have the comfortable space I have to pump, I have also come to realize that it’s very much about attitude and choices. It is important for me that I pump and breastfeed my son, so I have resolved to make that happen no matter where I am – that includes when I’ve traveled for work and been away from my baby, I’ve pumped on planes and in bathroom stalls and in other “exotic” locales. My personal attitude for my situation is that this is the way I’ve chosen to feed my baby so I’m committed to this 100%, and I’m open with my colleagues about that should they ask. I do not feel any embarrassment about this choice I’ve made and believe that all mothers should believe in whatever choice they make to care for and feed their babies! I’ll also second the hand pump recommendation — it’s useful to have when you’re going to be away from an outlet for a pumping session!

  7. I have an Ameda Purely Yours, and it has batteries built in, so you don’t need to buy a separate battery pack or worry about outlets all the time.

  8. Would love suggestions as to pumps and storage systems and things to carry it all in. Insurance is covering nothing so feel free to suggest any brand, any price range. :)

    • (former) preg 3L says:

      I asked around on thiss!te (main) when I was pregnant, and everyone recommended the Medela Pump in Style (or Pump in Style Advanced — one is a backpack and the other is a messenger bag). Medela bottles, nipples, parts, etc. are the best for me but some babies do better with different bottles/nipples. Try the Medela ones before trying any special ones. The only Medela brand item that I HATE is the freezer bags — they leak when they thaw! I definitely prefer the Lansinoh freezer bags (they lie more flat too). I carry everything I need in my pump.

    • OCAssociate says:

      Under the ACA, your insurance is required to provide some sort of pump, although they’re not required to provide any particular brand/type.

      In my experience, the most highly recommended pump was the Medela pump in style, so that’s what I had for my first. It comes with a mini-cooler and ice pack which will fit a couple bottles or a few bags of milk. The PIS tote has room for the pump, a handsfree bra, pump parts, storage bags, and sterilizing wipes/bags. Definitely get the battery pack for times when you need to pump and don’t have access to an outlet. (I’m also planning on getting whatever free pump I can through my insurance for my current baby, so I have one for home and one for work.)

      I never found freezer bags that I loved, so I’ve defaulted to the Medela ones. For freezing I just lay flat for the first 24 hours, then stack the bags. I never ended up using any of the freezer storage systems, but my freezer has a top drawer that made it easy to freeze/stack the bags.

      I’m intrigued by the Freemie, but I don’t know anyone who has used it, so I’m sticking to the old school pumps.

    • Meg Murry says:

      Even if insurance is covering nothing, if you have an FSA/HSA, you can buy it from that money, FYI.

      I used an old school Medela Pump in Style (not advanced). It definitely got the job done, and lasted through 2 kids. I like that you can get spare parts at Target, BRU or Amazon. If I were to buy again, I’d probably buy a Pump in Style Advance or a Hygeia – that is what our local WIC office gives to women on using the service, and according to everything I’ve read and discussed with the Lactation Consultants its very comparable to the Medela PIS, but a completely closed system and they have a policy to take back and recycle used pumps instead of just landfilling them.

    • Watermelon says:

      Medela Pump in Style advanced, Freemie collection cups, 4 oz mason jars for storage (inexpensive and not plastic), packit baby bottle bag for transport (holds 6 of the mini mason jars), mini fridge at desk for holding milk + cups during the day

    • hoola hoopa says:

      Evenflo glass bottles fit directly into Medela pumps. I’d pump directly into those and use them for storage. Take out of the freezer a day early and feed directly from them.

      Pump and medela cooler pack was all I needed. The cooler kept the milk cool enough and fit nicely into the bag. I just had to remember to move the ice pack back and forth.

      I had a Medela Freestyle. This may be out of date now, but what I liked about it was size/weight (I was transit commuting) and the ability to pre-charge (no outlet necessary for pumping). I used the shoulder bag it came with, which worked well. During the week, I left it and the charger at work and just transported the cooler and parts.

  9. I know it’s not the most environmentally friendly thing, but I would only use disposable nursing pads. I’ve had one friend, and heard of a few others, getting mastitis from re-using pads like the ones linked in the post and those silicone ones, too.

    • (former) preg 3L says:

      Good to know. I use the Lansinoh disposable nursing pads and don’t even notice them during the day (as in, they are not bulky or uncomfortable — when I leak, I notice them and I’m grateful for them!).

    • hoola hoopa says:

      I used both. I used reusable (bamboo backed with PUL, which is waterproof and breathable) for the entirety of one babyhood without issue. Personal chemistry comes into play, I think, but you also have to change the reusable ones more frequently IME. I found them more comfortable, but definitely more hassle and kind of gross. You have to be prompt with laundry or else they stink. We did cloth diapers, too, so no stranger to gross laundry, but my husband found the pads far more gross than diapers.

    • BethC says:

      YES! I used the disposables for nearly a year with no issues between my older daughter and new baby. I tried bamboobies and had mastitis within a week. And I changed often, washed them every day, etc. Never again!!

    • MFHOOP says:

      I used these wool nursing pads for a total of 30 months of pumping/nursing and LOVED them. They cover the whole breast so no lines and they are extraordinarily absorbent and I never had any irritation. I kept a few sets so I could rinse and dry one pair while I was wearing the others. http://www.amazon.com/Nursing-Pads-Ekstra-Style-Medium/dp/B0018T09ZI/ref=sr_1_1?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1411134387&sr=1-1

  10. Diana Barry says:

    I pumped at work for 3 years total (one with each kid). I have an office (thank goodness) and a lock on the door so my day didn’t get interrupted – I just would not take phone calls during that time. I also didn’t take down everything in between pumping sessions – I would do 4 a day, roughly every 2 hrs, because keeping up supply was important to me – and so I would do the first 2, then reset the bottles, then the second 2. I used to keep extra envelopes from the supply closet in my office so I could put the little medela bottle in the envelope and not worry about carrying the bottle down the hall to the fridge. I also brought a big lunch box and would put the full bottles in there so they weren’t sitting in the fridge by themselves.

    FWIW, I nursed until the kids were 22 months, 22 months, and 26 months, although I didn’t nurse during the day after they were 12 or 14 months.

    • Diana Barry says:

      Oh, also, my office is cold and I would get very cold if half-naked to pump, so having extra layers was important!

    • Can I ask what you did on the weekends? My son is 14 months old now and I’ve also stopped pumping. Right now I nurse him in the evenings (and overnight – ay yi yi). I’ve also been nursing him before his midday nap on the weekends, but I’m not sure that’s sustainable without pumping during the day M-F. What worked best for you?

      • hoola hoopa says:

        I’m not Diana, but I did the same. I nursed on demand over the weekend well after quitting pumping at 10-12 months and didn’t have issues aside from perhaps having to wear nursing pads longer than I would have had I completely weaned during the day. I couldn’t tell you how productive it was for the kiddos, but they were satisfied and didn’t need breastmilk then anyway so I wasn’t concerned.

  11. Brittany Michelle says:

    I have been back at work for a little over 2 months, and had a workman walk into my locked office. Be sure to respond when someone knocks (granted, I was shouting “do not come in” as he came in), because maybe that could prevent someone from coming in with a key. Also, my supply was awesome during maternity leave, but I’ve found that lack of sleep and stress really make my production variable while at work so I’ve been supplementing. No matter how friendly your office is to working moms, it is really tough to make this work.

  12. Luscinia says:

    I just finished pumping for my wee one (although he’s still nursing in the mornings and evenings), and I’ll say I learned a lot during those months! I started out pumping three times a day (for the first 12 months), then twice a day (for two months), then once a day (for two weeks). It was hard to fit it in during the day, but once I figured out a good system for working while pumping, it was much easier. I set somewhat flexible pumping times and tried to save e-mails and research for those times, so a hands-free bra and a double pump were essential. Once I stopped pumping, though, I stopped working. I found out the hard way what a mess it can be when you try to respond to an email while there are open containers of breast milk sitting around. FYI–breast milk is very sticky when it dries! :)

    I was also very upfront about what I was doing (especially since I had to cover the window in my office), so everyone knew what I was doing when the door was shut and the curtain was down. It might have been awkward for others, but it wasn’t for me. When I had to, I also did conference calls while pumping (any time a client showed up unexpectedly and needed to meet). I just put the pump as far away from the phone as possible and turned it to face the wall. I never had anyone ask about the noise, so I assume that worked well enough.

    As far as taking care of pump parts, I rinsed them and used the Medela wipes during the day and then washed and sterilized them each night. Also, if you’re going the Medela route, I know it may seem quicker to pump straight into the bags, but that definitely increases your chances of making a mess, and the bags have to be manipulated to get a more accurate measurement. I just pumped into the bottles and then dumped however much I wanted into each bag. I used the little 2.7 oz bottles for any extras during the day.

    Finally, in terms of what to wear, I found that the easiest thing for me was to wear shirts that don’t wrinkle because then I could just yank them up, put on the pump/bra, and go. It may not work for everyone, but that was easiest for me, especially since I hate button-up shirts and nursing shirts.

  13. I am not at the pumping stage yet, but it seems like it’s not uncommon to need to pump 2-4x day during the day. For those of you who are litigators/trial attorneys, how on earth do you manage this around depositions and trial?Right now I am expecting to have a case go to trial within 3 months of my return from leave. Lunch break covers one session, maybe the others are early/late? I know it’s silly to be concerned about this now, but since I’d like to breastfeed as long as possible, it’s on my mind.

    • (former) preg 3L says:

      I’m extremely young, but if I’ve learned anything about motherhood, it’s to be unfailingly assertive about your needs. Everyone can wait. For me, pumping can be as quick as 20 minutes if I’m focused about setup/cleanup and as much as I don’t like to, I *can* do it in a bathroom stall if necessary (and as long as I bring my battery). I haven’t had to go to trial yet as a lawyer though (I went to trial 3x as a paralegal). Remember, any amount of b-milk you can give your baby is great, and you can always pump extra overnight if you want to increase your supply. (Some moms nurse/pump overnight and don’t pump during the day — you can train your body to produce more milk at some times and less at others, which happens naturally when your baby starts sleeping longer stretches overnight.) Good luck!

    • I have been back to work about 1.5 months and had 3 depositions. It is tough on those days. I would pump on the lunch break and then we finished early than expected so I didn’t have to face the dilemma for the afternoon. I was upfront with the witnesses I was defending so they knew why I disappeared at lunchtime. I too am really worried though about my upcoming trial simply b/c of the time constraints and break time I see only being able to squeeze in 1 double electric pumping session at lunch. I am thinking I’ll take my hand pump for when we have short 10 minute breaks b/c 5 minutes of hand pumping will at least provide some relief. My advice would be to take both electric and hand pump when you have depositions b/c I lost a valve on one of my traveling depositions and could only use 1 side of the electric pump. Having the hand pump would have sped things up and avoided a lot of stress.

    • Depending on how many days your trial lasts, it might or might not be an issue. I know we had an associate at our office that had a 5 day trial and she just told the judge that she needed a few breaks during the day to pump. It was a jury trial, so they breaks every few hours as it was. For depositions and shorter trials, one or two days where you can’t pump as many times as you’d like will make you physically uncomfortable, but shouldn’t do anything to decrease your supply.

    • Thank you all so much for your input. Hadn’t occurred to me to perhaps get both a manual and an electric, but will definitely keep that in mind (and will be bookmarking this post for future reference).

    • Anonymous says:

      It is unpleasant. I had a car adaptor and pumped in my car, but generally could only pump during the lunch break. I also tried to pump 2x in the morning before going to court and immediately after wrapping up for the day (again, in my car). It was not good for supply and was quite uncomfortable too.

  14. Meg Murry says:

    In addition to all the great tips above, these are some pumping hacks/tips that I’ve either had to use myself or a friend in my support group has used:
    -forgot bottles? Medela PIS/PISA will work without bottles connected, leaning over coffee mugs to collect the milk.
    -to take milk home the day I pumped into mugs I bought a bottles of water from the vending machine, dumped the water down the sink and used the water bottle to store & take home the milk.
    -I’ve wrapped up the tops of my bottles with a sandwich baggies and rubber band the day I forgot lids.
    -Target & Babies R Us sell spare membranes if you wash yours down the sink during the first pumping session of th day. And milk storage bags if you’d rather not pump into mugs like I did above.
    -Amazon sells spare bottles and parts. Buy a second (or third) set for the day you lose, forget or break yours, or the night you just can’t bear to wash those damn things one more time and leave them to soak for the day while you use the spare.
    -Medela freezer bags come with an adaptor so you can pump right into their bags (which have little holes for the adaptor). But their bags are crappy – they are triangular so they don’t freeze flat. Buy one set of Medela bags for the adaptor, and the Lansinoh or Honeysuckle bags are strong enough to be able to just poke holes in to hang from the adaptor.
    -paper towels aren’t the most comfortable thing in the world, but they are better than going without nursing pads when you forget them. Pantiliners also work in a pinch.
    -spare clothes (down to socks and nursing bra) are a good idea for the day you trip and spill milk all over yourself (Been there, done that)
    -wipe your parts off with a paper towel before storing them in the fridge for next time? Use that milk soaked paper towel to wipe your neck, elbows or face (if you aren’t wearing makeup) – milk is a great moisturizer
    -along those same lines, if you are uncertain about if a bottle of milk is still good (doesn’t smell spoiled, but left beyond conditions you feel comfortable feeding it to baby for whatever reason) – dump it in baby’s bath (or yours) as moisturizer.
    – put your vitamins in your pump bag to remind you to take them. Same thing if you are having trouble staying hydrated – get in the habit of filling up your water bottle before each pumping session.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I was lead counsel on an out of town hearing and both my second chairs were pumping. They brought both grandmas along to watch the kids during the day in the hotel and we took LONG breaks in the morning and afternoon. I was in awe of the dedication of my team.

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