Now that I am nearly 2 months into being a Working and Pumping Mom, I definitely feel like I have gotten the hang of things. I would say I am a success story because, at almost 5 months old (I can’t believe she’ll be 5 months next Friday!), Julia has had nothing but breastmilk. She has not had any formula supplements, and we are continuing to exclusively breastfeed until we start giving her solids at 6 months. It’s definitely not easy but I have discovered some things that make it easier. I thought I would share what my day is like and I’ll throw in some tips I have picked up in the past 2 months that have made things easier. A lot of the tricks I have picked up are generally useful but it really depends on your individual situation: where do you work? What are your working hours? What kind of pumping set-up do you have at work? What is your personal milk supply like? etc.
Anyway… here’s my basic schedule (if everything goes as planned):
6 AM: Alarm clock goes off… press snooze and get up at 6:15
6:15 AM: Shower and get dressed
6:30 AM: While I get dressed, Ken gets the baby out of her crib, changes her diaper and gets her dressed
6:35 AM: Nurse Julia
7 AM: Put Julia’s bottles into her daycare bag, put empty bottles and pump parts into pump bag, quickly throw together my breakfast and lunch to bring to work with me, and leave the house with all my bags!
7:20 AM: Drop Julia off at daycare
7:30 AM: get to work, eat my breakfast, fill up my water bottle, grab some Mother’s Milk Tea, say hi to my coworkers, check my email, etc.
8:30 AM: Pump. (I use a Medela Pump in Style Advanced). At work, I have a conference room booked for me 4 times a day for a half an hour each time. I go in there and set up my pump. I’ve gotten the hang of placing the pump bottles between my body and the table and leaning into the table so that I have both hands free to do other things. I do have one of those hands-free pumping bras but I have actually never used it. I sort of feel like it would be a lot more work to essentially have to get undressed and re-dressed every time I pump, and the method I’ve been using works just fine. While I pump, I either play around on my phone–look at photos, watch videos, check things on facebook, read, play games, etc. or I read a book (I’m currently reading the book “Milk Memos” which definitely helps make me feel less alone in my endeavors to be a working and pumping mother). I set the timer on my phone for 25 minutes and I just keep pumping for the whole time. I can generally feel when I get a let-down but I also check the bottles every few minutes and when things slow down, I’ll press the “let-down button” on my pump to encourage another let-down. When I’m done pumping, I use the Medela Quick Clean Wipes to wipe down the pump parts, and then I put any milk I’ve pumped into the cooler bag that came with my pump and I put the milk into the fridge of the break room next door to the room where I pump.
One very challenging thing about pumping at work is quickly changing modes, or changing “hats,” so to speak. While I’m pumping I have on my “Mommy hat.” I have to think about the baby while I pump, look at pictures of her, watch videos of her, and generally try to relax. Then when I get back to my desk I have to quickly change modes and put on my “working Anna hat.”
I pump again at 10:30, 12:30 and 2:30, and in between each of my pumping sessions I have to make sure I drink enough water, eat my lunch, go to the bathroom, and get my work done!
3:30 PM: Leave work to pick up Julia
4 PM: Get home… depending on how Julia did at daycare (i.e. how much she slept, when she last woke up, when she had her last bottle at daycare, etc.) she’s sometimes in a happy and playful mood when we get home and she sometimes needs to nurse and take a nap. But shortly after I get home I always put the milk I pumped away in the fridge, and wash her bottles and the pump parts I used throughout the day.
The rest of the day’s schedule depends upon when Ken gets home and what plans we have for the evening, but generally we will sort of tag-team making dinner together around 6 PM and we try to get Julia to sleep sometime between 7 and 8 PM. I then make sure I pump 2 hours after she goes to sleep in order to top off the bottles I pumped during the day. She usually nurses again around 4:30 and again around 6:30 and then again right before bed time. If we need to give her a bath, we try to do it right before putting her to bed, so generally around 7 PM.
Lately, if we get her to bed between 7 and 8, she’ll sleep 5-7 hours before waking up to eat. When she wakes up, I try to feed her and then put her back to sleep. Depending on whether she ate from both sides or only from one side, I will sometimes try to go pump again to make sure I’m completely empty, before going back to sleep.
Then we start all over again at 6 AM!