4 Must-Have Products for Breastfeeding Working Moms
As a working mom, one of the hardest challenges of breastfeeding was returning to work and establishing an efficient pumping routine. With both of my boys, I pumped while working for the first year of their life. That's countless hours spent listening to the hum of my pump, while liquid gold flowed or sometimes trickled into sanitized bottles. Along the way, I have found a few products and routines that helped me survive pumping sessions – here are four:
Double Electric Pump
When purchasing a breast pump, research your options and ask other working mom's what breast pump they are using. Know that high quality breast pumps are not cheap. If you are serious about keeping up with your baby's milk demands, it's important to have an electric pump. A double pump will save you time, as you will be able to pump both breasts simultaneously. Check out Dr. Sear's article for more detailed information on picking the right breast pump for your needs.
* Will you have access to an electrical outlet? If not, you will need a breast pump that can be charged at home and runs on batteries.?* Will you be commuting by public transportation? If so, a smaller pump may be your best option, since larger breast pumps can be quite heavy.
A hands-free pumping bra allows you to multi-task while pumping, instead of holding the flanges. There are several different brands that sell the hands-free bra and most baby stores carry them. If your fortunate to have your own office, a hands-free bra will allow you to carry on with work duties, such as e-mail and paperwork, while pumping. If you pump in a multi-use room, a hands-free bra will allow you to engage your mind in another activity while pumping, such as reading, browsing your tablet or smart phone, or in my case, knitting.
If you commute long distances to work, you may even want to pump while driving to/from work to cut down on a pumping session during your work day. With my first child, I had at least an hour commute one way so pumped on my way to work. I used a nursing cover to ensure that no other drivers could see what I was doing. Of course, this would require that you have quick stops built in for the safety of attaching your pump and removing the parts – but, being able to pump as I drove using my hands-free bra made two of my daily sessions that much easier to accomplish.
Cleaning Your Pump Parts
Breast milk has antimicrobial properties, so residual milk on breast pump parts are safe at room temperature for up to 8 hours. If you are a neat freak like me though, you will want to clean your parts between pumping sessions. There are several different options, depending on what is available to you at work.
If you have access to a fridge, the easiest way to cut down on pumping time is to put your pumping parts in a zip lock or wet bag and store them in the fridge between pumping sessions. No need to wipe them down between sessions, since the fridge will eliminate any bacteria.
If you have access to a microwave, the Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags sanitize your parts in three minutes. These bags are fairly inexpensive, as one bag is good for 20 uses. The bags can also be used to sanitize your pumping parts once at home.
If you have access to a sink, run your parts through warm water and soap. This is a simple and free way to keep them clean in between pumping sessions.
If you do not have access to a sink or fridge, several different companies make breast pump part cleaning wipes. These can be rather expensive in the long run, yet work very well. If you feel that wipes are wasteful, invest in a full set of pump parts for each pumping session during the work day. That way you can just store the used pump parts in a wet bag and wash all parts when you get home.
Even though breastmilk is safe at room temperature for 8 hours, you may want a way to keep it cool especially during the warm summer months or if you have a long commute. A cooler and an ice pack is a must for these situations.
My Tip: When I was fortunate to have a larger milk supply with my first baby, I needed a way to store my milk in our deep freezer. I found that it easiest to pump into bottles and then pour the pumped milk straight into milk freezer bags right after I pumped at work. When I got home I just labeled the bags with the date and quantity and popped them into the freezer. Make sure to have a rotation plan for your milk as well, using the oldest milk first as you start to use your supply otherwise, the older milk will start to go sour and baby definitely knows the difference!
Do you have any tips for making breastfeeding at work easier? What products do you use that make your working life easier and a breast-feeding mom?