This headline may suggest that I'm going to bore you with the details of how to set up and operate a breast pump. Luckily for you, that is not the case!
I breastfed my son Elliot from birth until he was 16 months old.
When I returned to work on his 10-week birthday, I was pumping twice a day - once in the morning and once in the afternoon. After he started eating solid foods, I cut out one pumping session. Pumping ceased altogether when Elliot reached his first birthday.
So far, I've adopted the same routine now that Cecilia is in day care and I'm back at the office. Spending countless hours hooked up to an electric nipple squeezer has taught me a few things. Here are my tips.
Go hands free. Spend the $35 or so and buy the bustier that holds all the equipment for you. This is especially great if you have a private office with a door that locks. You can hook up and keep on working! If you have to go to a designated lactation room*, the hands-free bustier is still great if you want to use a cell phone for calls, texts or apps.
Stay cool. I don't know about you, but nursing a baby gives me hot flashes! The same crazy female hormones seem to rear their ugly heads when I'm pumping, too. I have taken to frequently fanning myself or standing directly on top of an AC vent after a feeding or pumping session is over.
Stay hydrated. I need to take my own advice on this one. I've not been drinking nearly enough water. This is especially evident after I pump. I am almost constantly thirsty these days!
Stock up on snacks. Almost immediately after I pump, my stomach starts growling. I guess my body needs those calories I just lost. My recent favorite snacks are Triscuits, string cheese or some fresh fruit.
Check your clasps. I can't tell you how many times I've concluded a pumping session, rinsed out the pump parts, put the milk in the refrigerator and carried on with my day - only to discover later that I forgot to hook the nursing bra clasps. Nursing bras are not the most supportive in the first place! Always remember to double check those pesky clips.
Wear nursing pads. Although I do occasionally leak, it's not as common as it was when Cecilia was a newborn. I still recommend the nursing pads, though, because wearing them decreases the chances of showing co-workers how wonderfully the pump pulls out the nipples. I suppose a padded bra would do the same thing. TMI? Maybe. But, an important observation in my opinion.
Label or hide. I've worked places where some confused co-workers thought everything in the office refrigerator was up for grabs. I would like to think no one would try to drink milk in a bag clearly labeled "mother's milk," but you never know. I put my breast milk in an insulated, black bag, just to be sure.
* Under the Affordable Care Act, all employers with 50 or more employees must provide a lactation room for any mother who requests it. This means "a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk." Ideally, a pumping room has a door that locks, a chair and a table. A nearby sink is also helpful.
April Leiffer Henry is a St. Clairsville native now living in Morgantown with her husband and two children. She writes the Office Mama blog for OVParent.com, where this article originally appeared.