What’s YOUR Pumping Routine?

So here’s a weird question but one I think a lot of us will identify with: what’s your pumping routine? Every mom who gets stuck pumping at work ends up with a pumping routine for breast milk — tea you drink, family photos you review, a show you binge watch… For example, as guest poster Emily noted in her Spectra pump review, she had a very specific pumping routine for breast milk while she was at work:pumping routine for breast milk - image if a woman on her phone

Drink a cup of Mothers’ Milk tea, apply warm TheraPearls to encourage letdown, look at pictures of my daughter, listen to the playlist I played in the hospital with her, massage while pumping, hand-express after pumping.

So let’s hear it, ladies — what IS (or was) your pumping routine for breast milk? Did you have something detailed like Emily, or did it basically consist of “pump while scrolling through Facebook”? (If you’re more than 5 years away from it now, do you still remember it?)

If you’re still working out your pumping routine for breast milk, or you’ve been getting bored by just staring at your phone, here are some suggestions:

1. Eat or drink something. Take a look at our Corporette post on energy foods for work — and remember that lots of water is always a good idea. Foods and plants that are said to increase your milk supply include oatmeal, garlic, fenugreek, fennel, alfalfa, and blessed thistle. (Study results vary — and you should talk to your doctor first.) Lactation cookies are another option, either DIY or from brands like Milkmakers (affiliate link) or Booby Boons. (Why do so many products for moms have such silly names?) We hereby give you permission to eat whatever you want while you’re pumping, whether or not it does a thing to help your milk supply and whether or not the name contains the word “cheez.”

2. Use “Hands on Pumping.” One study showed that when mothers used their hands along with a breast pump, they ended up with almost 50% more milk! It even doubles the fat in the milk you produce! (I mean, how cool is that?) Here’s a video from Stanford’s Newborn Nursery on how to do it. (Note: The video is pretty dated but widely recommended.)

3. Listen to a podcast or start/continue your maternity leave projectWhen we last talked about podcasts over at Corporette, readers had tons of podcast suggestions (as they did for the previous post) — and of course, there are a lot of good parenting podcasts, such as Mom and Dad Are Fighting, One Bad Mother, and The Longest Shortest Time (FYI for longtime listeners: there is a new, non-mom host). Alternately, watch a TED Talk — here are our suggestions for the best TED Talks for working women.

4. Share and/or organize kid photos. This is the kind of thing that it’s so hard to find time for at home, so why not work on it while you’re stuck sitting in one place (especially because you can do almost everything from a smartphone or tablet)? If you need some resources and ideas, see our posts on organizing family photospreserving kids’ artwork, and free apps for privately sharing photos. Pumping can also be a good time to keep up on apps that help working moms stay connected to school or daycare.

5. Read. We’re pretty sure you’ve already thought of this pumping activity, but check out our recommendations (and readers’) for the best financial books for beginners, books to help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions, fun books for summer reading, must-read business books for women, and books on becoming a better manager. Think about signing up for a free 30-day trial of either Kindle Unlimited or Audible.

6. Relax. Find a soothing playlist — or else one to pump you up (no pun intended). See our Corporette posts on the best Spotify playlists to help you focus and the best girl power songs for women. (One reader even made a public Spotify playlist, Woman Power, inspired by the latter!) Use a relaxation or meditation app, or just close your eyes and doze for a bit…

Tell us about your pumping routine for breast milk! What has worked best for you on being able to relax and pump the most milk? What is your favorite hands-free pumping bra? (Or do you have a DIY one?) Do you try to be productive by working or doing personal tasks, or do you just use the time for yourself? 

Picture via Stencil.

Every nursing, working mom ends up with a pumping routine for breast milk! Whether it's binge-watching the same shows, organizing family photos, listening to a podcast, or eating lactation cookies while taking a break, it tends to become a ritual... we asked the CorporetteMoms readers to share their pumping routines with us.

Comments

  1. Knope says:

    While I would have loved to use pumping as a nice relaxing break and opportunity to remind me of my child…I am lawyer. I worked while I pumped. I had to pump 3x a day and there was no way I was giving up an entire billable hour to do it. I did try to stick with document reading vs. typing while doing it so I could use my hands to help, but that wasn’t always possible.

    • CPA Lady says:

      Yeah, seriously…. the majority of the reason I didn’t pump was because I couldn’t pump and bill at the same time since I worked in low walled glass cube farm.

    • Same

    • biglawanon says:

      Same. I quit pumping earlier than I wanted because the stress of doing this was making me effing miserable.

    • +1. My typical routine: go through emails, scroll through easy to review documents, when in a crunch sit on conference calls with the phone on mute. When really in a crunch frantically edit documents while pumping.

      • Lady NFS says:

        So glad to see I’m not the only one that can’t “relax” or do non-work projects while I pump. I’m sure it harms my output because I spend most pumping sessions furiously working (or “hurrying” through a session between Court appearances or meetings) but otherwise I would forfeit too many billables to justify continuing.

    • DC Energy Attorney says:

      Same!

  2. Pregnant again says:

    Ahh I am not looking forward to getting back into this! But will likely do it for a few months. My routine was pump 3x (then 2, then 1) per day in our lactation room. I have my own office, and we have easy access to sink and fridge. I cleaned and left all parts at work so the only stuff I had to bring daily were 4 bottles.

    Pump 1: Bring bottles and parts to room, undress and hook-up, watch baby videos, combine milk into one bottle and put pump parts in Medala microwave clean bag (I clipped the hole so it was relatively air-tight) and store all in fridge.

    Pump 2: Watch baby videos and check emails, combine milk again into one bottle so I still have two empty bottles for last pump. All back in fridge.

    Pump 3: Watch baby videos and check emails, put milk bottles in little cooler, pack up stuff and take to sink. In the beginning, I would use the microwave steamer bags every night to disinfect the pump parts, as my baby got older I would just use hot water and detergent. Lay out stuff in office to dry overnight.

    That way when I got home every night I just had to label the fresh bottles for daycare and put empty bottles in my bag.

  3. FloridaFTM says:

    Does anyone know of any great podcasts geared towards dads? My husband likes Podfathers and is looking for others to help fill his long commute.

  4. Pregnant again says:

    Sorry if this posts twice!

    Ahh I am not looking forward to getting back into this! But will likely do it for a few months. My routine was pump 3x (then 2, then 1) per day in our lactation room. I have my own office, and we have easy access to sink and fridge. I cleaned and left all parts at work so the only stuff I had to bring daily were 4 bottles.

    Pump 1: Bring bottles and parts to room, undress and hook-up, watch baby videos, combine milk into one bottle and put pump parts in Medala microwave clean bag (I clipped the hole so it was relatively air-tight) and store all in fridge.

    Pump 2: Watch baby videos and check emails, combine milk again into one bottle so I still have two empty bottles for last pump. All back in fridge.

    Pump 3: Watch baby videos and check emails, put milk bottles in little cooler, pack up stuff and take to sink. In the beginning, I would use the microwave steamer bags every night to disinfect the pump parts, as my baby got older I would just use hot water and detergent. Lay out stuff in office to dry overnight.

    That way when I got home every night I just had to label the fresh bottles for daycare and put empty bottles in my bag.

  5. Do the TheraPearls help with pumping efficiency? I’m coming up a bit short each day – had to add nighttime pump to supplement. Would love to get just extra oz from work time pumps.

    • Emily S. says:

      They worked for me, but hands-on pumping was/is more helpful for me. TheraPearls helped with letdown, so milk came faster, but it was only when using hands-on pumping that I’ve noticed more milk in each session.

  6. I was always the fullest in the morning, so I actually used the Freemie cups with a car adapter for the pump and would do my first pumping session on my drive to work after dropping my daughter off at daycare. I would park in the corner of the lot, line everything up, wait for let-down (which was super quick in the AM), and then drive through the pumping session (~20 minutes). In the parking lot at work I would try to park in between two big trucks to take the cups out and transfer the milk to the bottles I sent to daycare. Then I would put on my work shirt (I always wore a zip-up hoodie while pumping) and head into work. There I would rinse the parts out with hot water & let them air dry at my desk. I work in a cubicle, but I put one of those grass things in a small folding storage tub under my file cabinet and no one seemed to notice.
    My second session I would try to do before lunchtime in the lactation room. I used that time to go through pictures (which helped with letdown and staying on top of editing/printing pictures). Having the car setup was handy because at the time the two lactation rooms were completely booked all day so if I missed my session it was either the car or a conference room…

  7. I used a tissue to tickle my b**bs to get a letdown. It worked amazingly well. Also a lawyer, so I pumped from my office and billed during the pumping sessions.

  8. Pumping with #2 now. My schedule is crazy, working from two different client sites and only 1 has a mother’s room. I usually pump in the car when I’m driving between sites or in the parking lot. If I’m at the site with the mother’s room, I check emails and do work until I need to hand express. I often don’t pump enough during the day, so I squeeze in a 10pm or 4am pump. Can’t wait to be done, 2 months left!

  9. milk maid says:

    Agree with a lot of the other commenters, aren’t most people working moms who are pumping while at work? This seems a little bit out of touch how do people have time to do all of this stuff while they’re pumping considering they’re taking time away from work to pump? I currently pump twice a day at work and work through my pumps.

  10. My production went way down when I worked while pumping, resulting in more sessions. That was not helpful from a productivity perspective. I also found that I neede both audio and visual distractions so that I wasn’t just sitting there thinking about the work I wasn’t getting done. I usually crochet and listen to a podcast (love History Chicks!!) or CLE on my phone with Bluetooth headset. I don’t go out to lunch and rarely chat with coworkers — it is isolating but I have to get the time from somewhere. Ultimately I will pump for a total of around 2 years out of my entire career. My kids both had/have dairy intolerance so options were limited. If you can work while you pump — great! I found that any additional work I got done was negated by having to pump more often and stress about supply. Also I don’t work when I’m up in the middle of the night pumping when I’m on work travel.

    • Anonymous says:

      I couldn’t get a lot of good work done while pumping. I used it for entering time and in-box cleanup and cycling through my task list.

  11. I always like to hear about different pumping routines and hearing what works best for different moms. I am very lucky to have access to two lactation rooms with pumps/storage space/sink/fridge at my work and to have the ability to build my pumping sessions into my schedule just like meetings. While I do have to be flexible on pumping scheduling at times, and have had to find creative spaces to pump when at offsite meetings and on travel, I’ve been able to pump for both my first and second babies. What works best for me is 5 minutes for set up, 15-20 minutes for pumping and working, 5 min for cleanup (when I first came back to work 4 months postpartum I pumped three times a day, now 12 months pp I’m down to 1-2 times a day). I can work on my laptop and have even taken conference calls during pumping sessions (mostly ones where I can be on mute part of the time, though I have had to explain that the “weird sound” you hear in the background is a pump). Other times I’ve used pumping sessions to manage home stuff like making doctor appointments, scheduling various kid things, even ordering groceries. I’ll be wrapping up pumping at work soon and since it’s my last baby I’m actually a bit sentimental about it and grateful I could do it, though it has been a sacrifice (let’s be real – it is for all pumping mothers, whether you have an easy time pumping or not).

  12. I’m 3 months post partum and pump three times a day. I work in IT as a developer so my schedule is pretty flexible, but having to get up and lose my train of thought is probably my biggest pain point. Timing typically varies for me due to this, but I shoot for around 2 – 3 hours between sessions.

    Like anon above me, it takes me about 5 minutes to walk upstairs to the room and set up, 15 minutes to pump, then another 5 minutes to pack it all back up. I wash the parts after each session with hot water and soap – I’m too paranoid about thrush and judgy coworkers for anything else and the time savings isn’t worth the anxiety. The one time I’ve had unwelcome advice from a coworker was her telling me how to wash my pump parts, so I’m pretty sure it’d be even worse if I was seen keeping them in the fridge. I have zero shame about the fact that I’m pumping though, so I have a lawn on my desk for drying.

    During pumping, I oscillate between non involved work tasks (20 minutes isn’t enough time to get into coding anything difficult) and taking care of household tasks that I normally have always done at work – the budget, making business hour phone calls, etc. Depends on my motivation at the time and how the rest of the day is going. I’m lucky in that I don’t need much help with letdown or production so far (thank the milk gods!) – I am producing more than what she’s eating at daycare by usually 5-10 oz depending on the day and have a 150+oz stash already.

    • Oh – and I forgot to mention. I’ll actually aim to pump during conference calls; my spectra is quiet enough that you can’t hear it with the headset setup I’ve got which is awesome.

  13. Pumping says:

    I seem to be an outlier in that it takes me 45 mins-an hour to pump, 3x a day, to have enough. I have my own office and don’t get walk-ins so it’s not an issue other than background noise when I’m on the phone. I strap in to my hands free bra and usually work the whole time, stopping when I look down and can see I’ve pumped enough or there just isn’t any more coming. If I’m distracted and can’t focus on work, I’ll watch baby videos/look at pictures, sometimes listen to podcasts or read a chapter on my kindle app.

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