By WMM Contributor: Maura Metz
As a first time mom, I had a lot of questions and anxiety about pumping once I went back to work. My goal was to give my daughter that magical breast milk for a year, but I had no idea how to use my breast pump or how many ounces she would need at a time. I was counting on a class at a local hospital to answer all of my questions, but my baby had a meltdown followed by a blowout diaper, and I never made it. Here is what I learned on the fly:
- Bring your pump to your lactation consultant appointment. I opened my Spectra S2 box and was so confused and overwhelmed. So many parts! How was I supposed to know what to do with this contraption? Luckily, our pediatrician recommended bringing my pump to my first lactation consultant appointment. That was so helpful! The Lactation Consultant helped me figure out how to set it up, and I pumped a little at the appointment too. That gave me the confidence that I knew how to do it.
- Get your baby used to a bottle. Have your baby start getting used to taking a bottle, because unfortunately for them you’ll be bringing your breasts to work with you. I tried a bottle at about four weeks and had another caregiver (dad, grandma etc.) give her a bottle every few days.
- Schedule the time. Schedule your pumping sessions as appointments in your work calendar. Make pumping a routine part of your day so you stay consistent. I would bump my pumping times a little if needed for meeting (like 15-30 minutes), but I didn’t skip sessions. Unless you’re firm about it, there are going to be so many times it will be easy to cancel. I tried to remind myself that it was my legal right, and I was doing it for my daughter’s health.
- You might have to advocate for yourself. I did not have an ideal pumping situation. I had to schedule a conference room every single time I had to pump. I pumped three times a day, which would have meant scheduling 600 appointments by the time I was done. Bananas. I also found that people would stay past their meeting time which meant I had to find a new room or wait for them to leave, and that took time away from me getting back to work. I even had a few attempted walk-ins. Pulling my shirt up and stretching my nips out in horrific ways at work was uncomfortable enough, I didn’t need the added stress of someone jiggling the door knob. So, I talked to the other couple pumping moms (strength in numbers!), and we spoke to our leadership. Fortunately they were receptive to our concerns, and made us a very nice dedicated pumping space. That switch greatly reduced my stress and tears around pumping at work.
- It might be harder to focus. I’ll let you in on a secret. I didn’t feel on my “A” game at work. I had “mom brain”, a new constant worry about how my baby was doing, and then oh yeah—I had to drop what I was doing three times a day and go pump. It didn’t exactly make it easy when I needed to take a deep dive into a project. If you feel like I did, just know you aren’t alone. You won’t pump forever, and eventually you’ll find your groove again.
Pumping ain’t easy! Some might say it sucks (*wink*). Hang in there. Pack snacks, commiserate with other mom friends, and pump yourself up because even if you don’t feel like you are—you are doing an awesome job!