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a working mom’s guide to pumping

February 13, 2014
by April Leiffer Henry , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

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.

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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, where this article originally appeared.

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