Returning to work after maternity leave is painful enough without the pumping. Even if you aren’t working outside of the home, exclusive pumping can be a full-time job. Here are some tips for how to make the most of your time at the pump.
- Get an electric breast pump. A friend of mine told me she intended to use a manual pump at work and I laughed in her face. She didn’t realize that insurance plans now cover an electric pump, saving her $300 AND loads of time. Spare yourself the hand-ache and give your insurance a call. If you can swing it, shoot for a double electric breast pump. It’s twice as nice!
- Keep spare parts on hand. My friend purchased three sets of breast pump parts, one for each pump session during the day, that she cleans when she gets home at night by soaking in a warm bowl with soap and sterilizing in a steam bag. I only use one set of parts during the day but find that it helps to have extra parts on hand in case I forget a set at home.
- Bags, bags and more bags. I refuse to pump into bottles and give myself yet another thing to clean after a long day at work. Plastic pump bags may be bad for the environment but they are good for the soul and save a lot of room in your freezer. It also helps that I can give our daycare a week’s worth of frozen bags rather than having to prepare bottles every day. Like I said before, I actually only use one set of pump parts during the day and double bag them (in a Ziploc bag within a Rite Aid bag) so that my coworkers don’t have to see my delicious pump parts in the fridge when they go to get their lunch. When I get home at night I use (guess what?) microwave steam bags to sterilize my dirty pump parts.
- Invest in a hands-free pumping bra. These bras look like they came straight out of an 80’s Madonna video but they will make your life so much easier. Strap them on and you are free to work, eat or do jazz hands for 20 minutes straight while you pump.
- Keep your clothing pump-friendly. The only dresses that work for pumping are wrap dresses. Unless you feel like pumping in the nude, I strongly suggest restricting your work wardrobe to two-piece outfits.