Before Livia was born, heck even before I knew I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. My initial goal was until six months, exclusive or not, but as her arrival came closer I knew that I wanted to exclusively breastfeed until six months and continue until she was a year old. Now that she is eight-months-old, I’m definitely considering to nurse her until she self-weans or another baby comes into the picture (tandem breastfeeding, to me, is like the gold medal of the breastfeeding Olympics). When she was eight-weeks-old, however, I had to go back to work, so on that January morning I packed my Medela Pump In Style Advance, tubing and parts and headed off to the next leg of our breastfeeding journey. Five months later, I’m still pumping three times a day and getting enough milk that I’m won’t have to supplement with formula anytime in the near future.
Deciding to continue breastfeeding once going back to work is an enormous task. Since I’ve gone back to work I’ve whittled down what I bring to work to the minimum so I’m not quite a back animal. Some of these stay at work from Monday to Friday and some go back and forth with me between home and work – I’ve split my items between those categories.
Stays at Work
Medela Pump In Style Advance (PISA)
I received mine free through our insurance and it’s what most people consider the best for moms going back to work. It has two-phase expression, which mimics baby’s feeding patterns making it easier to let down. I’ve used my about 15 times a week for the last five months and have pumped over 1000 ounces in that time period without losing suction or power (at least that I’ve noticed).
Hands Free Pumping Bra
#lifesaver. Seriously, with this I can pump and read a magazine, or pump and eat some yoghurt, or pump and do pretty much whatever I want at my desk (except for work – I have a strict no working while pumping rule). I have this one and it’s worked perfectly fine for me for the last five months. This is definitely a must have for any mom who’s hoping to have long-term pumping success. I use this one in particular.
This might be a little controversial, but I’ve drank it since going back to work and I’ve yet to have to pull from my freezer stash (in fact, most weeks I’m adding at least 10 ounces to it). I like the idea of drinking a tea more than taking a fenugreek or goat’s rue pill. I used Traditional Medicinals Lactation Tea for months and recently switched to Mountain Rose Herbs Nurse-Me Rhyme blend just to change things up, and I’ve actually seen about a 3 ounce a day increase.
Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter
Pumping can be pretty uncomfortable. You are definitely going to want something to put on before pumping and possibly after. I had a quick affair with lanolin, but it was so sticky, I went back to EMAB within a week. It’s made of olive oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, calendula wax, mango butter and calendula flower extract and its wonderful. This is also great on dry skin, hangnails and cuts.
Goes Back and Forth:
Medela Pump Parts
The pump kit comes with a set of connectors, flanges, tubing, valves and membranes, but I strongly suggest purchasing at least three sets – that way an extra set can live at work in case something is accidentally forgotten. There have been at least three occasions where I left my flanges at home and had to use the ones out of my desk set.
Pumping directly into medela bottles was the easiest option for me when I went back – we received a storage set as a gift at one of our showers, so I had plenty of bottles. At first I was carrying six five-ounce bottles to work each day and pumping into all six. Thankfully, I’ve been able to cull it to three five-ounce bottles and one 8 or 9-ounce bottle. The milk from the first pump goes into the big bottle when I start the second pump and once the milk from the second pump has cooled I combine it with the milk from the first (if there is room). Using the bare-minimum of bottles each day cuts down into how much I’ve having to wash and how frequently I’m having to wash.
I use this Vera Bradley insulated lunch tote to haul my pump parts and bottles around, as well as, to store them while I’m at work. Having a cooler bag is great because I don’t have to hurry home from work to get my milk in the fridge. During the day I pump my parts and bottle of milk in the bag inside our work fridge, that way even though everyone knows there’s breastmilk in the fridge, it won’t freak the lawyers out too much since they can’t see it.
I purchased both flexible and solid ice packs when I went back to work. At one point I was so concerned with my milk spoiling I was using three frozen packs in my bag, needless to say, it was a bit of overkill. I rotate between two packs now: one stays with the milk during the day and the other stays in the freezer and I put the freshly frozen one in my bag right before I leave work for the day. This also allows me to put both packs in bag if I need longer cooling after I leave work.
I use my trusty Nike backpack from my college days to haul everything back and forth that I need. For a few weeks I used my favorite Vera Bradley tote, but it just wasn’t big enough to contain everything I needed some days. Every one of my colleagues who has pumped has used a backpack to carry their stuff around. It’s great because I can bring all the snacks I need for the week on Monday instead of having to remember to grab snacks every day – and it has plenty of room to bring my lunch from home, too.
What’s in your pump bag? What did I leave out that you consider a necessary item?