Friday, January 08, 2010

Pumping Logistics

I was about to type a long comment in answer to Paola's comment on my last post. Instead, I'll make a new post:

Paola's questions weren't inane at all. Figuring out pumping was one of the more stressful things about going back to work the first time. This time, at least I have a baseline idea of what to do.

So... I pump 3x a day at work. Under California law, my company is required to provide me with a room that isn't a bathroom for the purpose. I am also guaranteed two 15 minute unpaid breaks to pump. Since I am salaried, that is not so much of an issue. Also, since I am in charge of IT at my company, I make sure there is a computer with a network connection in the room. I can, and do, work while pumping. I pump from 15-30 minutes at a time, depending on my schedule and on how the milk is flowing. With Pumpkin, I was able to cut down to pumping 2x a day when she was about 10 months old. I went down to pumping 1x a day when she was about 13 months old (I think- I'd have to go back through my blog archives to be sure), and dropped pumping altogether when she was about 17 months old. We continued to nurse until she was 23 months old.

With Pumpkin, who was basically on a 24 hour eating schedule, the three pumping sessions were enough to replace what she ate during the day. This is only day 3 back to work with Petunia (I'm part time for the month of January), but she is eating more during the day than I pump out. I suspected this might happen, because Petunia was basically sleeping through the night and is therefore eating roughly every hour that she is awake. On Wednesday, I pumped out 18 ounces of milk while I was at work, but Petunia ate 22 ounces. I am handling this by keeping a before bed pumping session but not having Hubby give any bottles in the middle of the night/early morning. This isn't too bad, since Petunia is sleeping through until about 4 a.m. most days.

We have had a change in sleeping patterns this week, but I'm not sure if this is due to me going back to work or the three-month growth spurt. For the last two nights, Petunia has woken up at about 2 a.m. to eat. She never really settles back into her co-sleeper at that point. She nurses, poops, nurses, poops, nurses, and then will sleep another couple of hours if someone holds her. I've been dozing on the sofa with her sleeping on my chest. Even with this latest change, Petunia is a better sleeper than Pumpkin was, so although I am incredibly grumpy and tired when I first get up in the morning, I'm actually feeling pretty good during the day.

I'll keep my before bed pumping session over the weekend, too. This will help keep my supply up and also help build up some extra milk to make up any shortfall during the week. I should be fine as long as I'm only working three days a week. However, I go back to work full time in February. If I find that I can't keep up with Petunia's milk consumption at that point, I'll probably start taking fenugreek and also try to add one day time pumping session on Saturdays and Sundays. As a last resort, I'll supplement with formula. I want to try to avoid that because of my concerns about Petunia's digestive system- I'm still not eating much dairy. If dairy in my diet is suspect, then formula based on cow's milk is probably not a good idea. However, Petunia seems to be handling it OK when I eat cheese, so this may not be a concern. Also, babies tend to handle dairy better once they are 6 months old, and I suspect I'll have enough frozen supplies to allow me to make it to that point before I have to consider formula supplementation.

I have more mundane details about pumping in an earlier post, from my days of pumping milk for Pumpkin.

Anyone else want to share how they handle all of this?


  1. I pumped in my office with the door closed. My office mate used another office before 2pm so I just made sure to get my last pumping session of the day done before his arrival.

    My company provided the medela hospital-grade pump and sold me the personal pump for home use at wholesale.

    I had to supplement with soy formula for the times when I was sick or taking medications and radioactive tracers. (Cancer scare while nursing.) The company's lactation consultant provided worksheets for how long I had to interrupt nursing. It's a good thing I am familiar with half lifes. ;-)

    I didn't want to give cow milk before 12 months. I wish I had not given her full fat cow milk at 12 months because that put her off soy formula or soy milk forever. She did keep nursing and taking my milk from bottles until she was 18 months.

    And she still loves tofu and edamame in all forms.

  2. When I went back to work, my baby was eating everything during the day, not at all most nights, and I found it nearly impossible to keep up with his demand. I pumped 2x during the work day (I worked less than 8 hours) and before going to bed, sometimes pumped a little after he ate first thing in the morning, even more on weekends, and I *still* had to dip into my freezer supply every single week. Doing "milk math" was a constant source of stress.

    It would have been so much easier if I had just stored up more milk before going back to work. I was very laid back about pumping during my maternity leave, and didn't focus much on building up a freezer stash. Big mistake.

    The number one piece of advice I give to new BFing moms who are planning on going back to work is to freeze as much milk as possible. More than you think that you will ever use. That way, if you do go through any supply issues later (and most people do, at some point) you'll know that you have it covered.

  3. Anonymous1:50 PM

    I agree with the freezing in advance advice. My DS started sleeping through the night exactly when I went back to work (at 8 mo) - it was great timing, except it made my supply drop (which funnily enough I didn't realize were connected), and I was continually stressed about keeping up with his demand. I could usually catch up on weekends, but it was close every week, a stress I didn't need. I pumped 3x in my office - the big drag was that I had to walk to a common building with my pump parts to clean them out and refrigerate the milk. I could pump and work, though usually I took a break while pumping.

    I don't know if anyone reading this is pregnant and planning to nurse, but just in case - my insurance company paid for 85% of my medela pump in style, provided I bought it at a medical supply store. It's not a benefit they advertised. So it's always worth calling and asking them.

    Oh and don't wear button down shirts to work when you're pumping! I don't know why but I KEPT doing it.


  4. @Erin- I keep my pumped milk in a little cooler bag with an ice pack, and I don't clean the pump parts during the day. I figure that pumped milk is OK at room temperature for 8 hours, so its fine to sit in the parts all day. I put the parts through the dishwasher every night.

    One of the problems I'll have if I do manage to get my supply up to replace what Petunia is eating during my 3 pumping sessions- it won't all fit in the four bottles that fit in my little cooler bag. I guess I'll have to bring extra bottles and an extra cooler bag.

    @badmomgoodmom- when I was pumping for Pumpkin I had a private office. That is much more conducive to being productive while pumping. I miss it- but that is pretty much all I miss about that job, so I'll just deal with that!

  5. I went back to work full-time when my first was 3 months, and 3/4 time when my second was 10 weeks. The only lactation room on my large university campus happened to be 100 feet from my office, so that was nice, although occasionally I pumped in my or my boss' office (when I started pumping with the Dillo, 6 other women were already using the room - we had a sign-up sheet!) I felt lucky to be a "good pumper" - I pumped twice a day and netted about 12 ounces a day, and usually it took only 10 minutes for the entire routine. Both kids never wanted more than 12 ounces a day (usually 3 feedings of 4 ounces) - but both were night nursers well past a year, and more than once in the night, too. I built up a freezer stash with my first but never touched it, and didn't bother with my second. I gave both kids cow's milk at 12-13 months and they took to it and had no trouble with it, and I stopped pumping by cutting back to once a day for a week, then dropping it. I nursed both kids to 28 months or so.

    I know a lot of people who've hated pumping, and while I don't miss it or anything, I never found it particularly burdensome. A couple of panicky days of forgotten pump part or when my pump completely died on me were stressful, but overall it was pretty smooth going. It helped to have a supportive workplace and a La Leche League group with other full-time WOHMs.

  6. paola4:17 AM

    Wow, thanks for that Cloud. I don't think I know anyone who has pumped, hence all the questions. I guess this is because here in Italy, we have fairly long maternity leave by American standards anyway, and then almost all my mummy friends took unpaid leave till their kids were around 9 months or so.

    I have to say I really do admire you all for all the trouble you go through to provide breastmilk to your children. Honestly, I don't know if I would have bothered, considering my lack of success in the pumping department. Then again, Italian companies are not really set up in a way that encourages it either, and this makes a difference.

  7. Anonymous1:55 PM

    Like other posters, I pumped 2x a day at work, but also added a before-bed pumping session because I never pumped enough to keep up with my son's daytime eating needs since he started sleeping through the night at about 7 or 8 months. I ended up having to supplement with formula after about 9 months because of an insane 48-hour trip I took to London to give a talk. My husband stayed home with my son and that pretty much ate the existing freezer supply and I could never get ahead again.
    Some advice: buy more than one set of tubes and flanges so you don't have to worry about washing them between pumpings at work; use lanolin on your nipples and breasts before pumping -- it seriously reduced friction and irritation for me; get the hands-free pumping bra. Yes, you will feel like a cyborg; yes, it it is so totally worth it.

  8. hmm, it's already a blur!
    I had a great quiet room at work. I'd read or do phone calls. I found I was more relaxed distracted with something else and not watching how much was coming out.
    Also, if I got mentally worked up about something annoying it would make my milk floooow!!

    My babysitter would thicken the milk I left with powdered organic cereal to fill him up more. With my son it was too hard to pump enough to leave for him during the day -- always had to dip into the freezer supply which ran out by the time he was starting fruit and cereals -- thank god!!

  9. The first time, I had lots of issues pumping--I pumped 3x a day for about 45 minutes each time to make enough to keep up with her daytime feedings. I had to (still do) use the lowest setting of the pump, otherwise it tears my nipples up. The lansinoh is a god send.

    This time, I'm able to pump 2x a day for about 30 minutes each to make just enough for the baby's daytime feedings. However, I'm now struggling to make enough and everyone wants more of my milk--the nanny would like more for the day and hubby wants some for a bottle at night. I am just not able to make much more, so I'm in a bit of a quandry at the moment. We'll see what happens.

  10. @caramama- have you tried fenugreek? It always helped me get my supply up. I'm trying to remember how old Pookie is- there's a growth spurt at 6 months, and I found growth spurts required fenugreek once I was back at work.

  11. For what it's worth, we started mixing the breastmilk half-and-half with the Earth's best formula after trying breast only for a little over a month and our little girl shot up in weight from about the 5th percentile back up to 40-something after a couple weeks and has been holding there, gaining exactly the right amounts, for the past couple months. She was born at the 50th percentile, so we feel good about this. My wife is trying fenugreek, but isn't seeing much results, even from the concentrated extract. What does work is pumping more frequently, but I understand that's difficult to do.

    If you're just trying to catch up, keep your pumping/nursing schedule the same as it is, cutting consumption by giving her half formula half breastmilk bottles, at least for the day feedings, can really help.

  12. Hey there, thank you for the post, really appreciate it.


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