Guest Post by Cristin Traylor
Pumping is not glamorous work, and yes it is work. Every day before I leave the house for my “day job,” I pack up my cooler bag with ice packs and my pump parts and bottles. When I get to the office, I unlock my pump and place it on my desk. (I am lucky enough to have a hospital grade pump that I can keep at my office.) I get out the pump parts and put my ice packs in the freezer. Then I put reminders on my calendar for my pumping sessions that day.
At about 10 am, I close my locked door with the “Do Not Disturb” sign on it and get to work – my pumping work that is. Hopefully I have worn clothes that are easy to get off on top, although this seriously limits my wardrobe. Dresses are almost all out of the question or I would have to take the entire thing off and be mostly naked in my office. So I wear lots of pants and tops. I put on my “hands free” bra and get setup for pumping. (The hands free bra is a lifesaver and I highly recommend it for every woman). I turn on the pump and try to remember to look at the clock so I know what time I started. Then I go about my regular work duties – emails, conference calls, etc. After about 12-15 minutes, I turn off the pump and try to get every last drop off the pump parts into the bottle. Then I use the quick clean wipes, which are a godsend. If I had to wash off the parts with water, it would take even longer. I put the bottles in the mini-fridge in my office, put my clothes back on, and open my door to let people know it is “safe” to come in again.
Sometimes I lose track of time and pump for 20 minutes. I usually pump 4-6 ounces each time – more in the morning and less in the afternoon. Most days I pump three times a day, but sometimes I can get away with only two times if I leave work early enough. I just have to make sure I have enough to send my baby to school with three bottles the next day. Luckily I have a bunch of breastmilk in the freezer so I can always defrost some if I don’t pump the third time.
The hardest days are when I have meetings scheduled at the “optimal” pumping times. Then I either have to pump early or late, which throws off my next pumping session. Sometimes there are people in my office when I need to pump. It is difficult to tell them I need them to leave.
At the end of the day, I pack up all the pump parts and the bottles of milk, and I lock up my pump for the night. When I get home, I clean all the parts so they will be ready for the next day. Then I even out the breastmilk in the bottles so they will be ready for feeding.
I sometimes ask myself: how long can I keep this up? With my first child, I pumped for a year. Right now I just think about doing it one-month at a time. It is a lot of work to pump every day – almost like a full-time job. I know there are so many benefits to feeding my child breastmilk that I want to do it as long as possible. But sometimes life gets in the way. If I end up having to travel for work, it is going to be very difficult to bring everything with me and to find the time and place to pump at client sites.
I am so lucky to have an employer that supports my pumping efforts. I have a private office with a lock on the door and a fridge right in my office. I am able to work while I am pumping. I can’t imagine doing this every day without these things, although I know there are some women out there who do it. And I totally understand why women choose not to pump when they don’t have the private space and conveniences that I do. It is my wish that every woman who wants to pump is given the resources and the space to do it. For now, I will keep on doing what I am doing because it is what I believe is best for my child. I wonder if on some subconscious level I feel the need to pump because I am unable to be with my baby during the day. It gives me something I can do for him and a part of me I can leave with him in my absence. That thought keeps me going while I do double duty “work” for him.Cristin & Cole
What’s your pumping at work experience been like? What keeps you going when the going gets tough?