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Gah! School starts in two weeks. Two Weeks!! It seems like just yesterday I wrote my first post on what Mia and I were going to do all summer. Currently I have so many mixed feelings over going back to work, but the most prevalent one is that I don’t want to leave my sweet baby girl! But, we aren’t going to open that can of worms right now. I just have to focus on the benefits!
However, as I go back to work, there is one more thing I am not looking forward to, and that is pumping at work. This summer has been so peaceful without having to wash bottles every day! Sure, I’ve had to pump every once in awhile, but there is definitely going to be some adjustment going back. So, time to remind myself of how this all works! How fortunate that I actually started this post back before school was out! 😀
Packing My Pumping Bag
I first went back to work when Mia was 10 weeks old. Luckily, my school schedule had enough breaks that I could continue breastfeeding by pumping at work. Of course, this added another bag to pack! (As if teachers don’t already have enough of these!)
I did not purchase a specific pumping bag. The pump my insurance company provided did not come with one and the reviews on Amazon for a Medela bag were not that great. I actually just used a Thirty-One True Beauty bag that I had from a party that I had laying around still new. It is a bit tight, but it works well! I like that I can easily find my supplies and they don’t get lost at the bottom of my bag.
I fit all the pump supplies in here really well except for the parts that I wash every day. They get put in a wet bag. When the bottles are partially disassembled, I can still zip up my pink bag with the wet bag inside. I love having the wet bag because it makes it a little more inconspicuous when I am carrying pump parts and milk down the hallway at school. Students also put things in the same fridge that I use to store my milk.
Pumping Supplies: (What goes in the bag.)
- breast pump – motor, tubing, power cord
- wet bag that holds breast shields, collection bottles, and other parts I don’t know the name of
- storage bottles or bags
- pumping bra
- Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump and Accessory Wipes
- Car Adaptor (You never know when you’ll need it!)
Luckily my insurance company provided one. However, I could never find the instructions on how to go about getting one, so after making a few calls, here is how the process worked for me:
- I called the customer service number on the back of the insurance card and went through the automated menu to the maternity section.
- Finally, I reached an actual representative and asked them if my plan covered a pump. (It did!)
- The rep transferred me to a medical supply that they worked through.
- The medical supply company collected my information and emailed me three pump options.
- I emailed them back with my choice and a prescription from my doctor. (Yes, a prescription for a breast pump!)
- Pump arrived in the mail!
I picked the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breastpump Starter Set. The insurance companies don’t supply the ones with the bags and coolers. I decided it was not worth paying an upgrade fee.
If you have to buy one out of pocket you have a few options.
- Buy a new one. If you want to save money, don’t buy all the extras and options. You just need a pump.
- Buy a used one. If you do this, just buy a pump motor and then go buy all new tubing, breast shields, membranes, and bottles. You can get them from Walmart, Amazon, etc.
Storage Bottles or Bags
I started with the storage bags because I had to pump some when I was still on maternity leave to relieve pressure and I needed a way to freeze it. Now I wish I would have bought a few storage bottles that went with my pump because I did start bringing fresh milk from the day before to Mia’s daycare provider. I hated wasting bags, so I started pouring the fresh milk into one of Mia’s Tommee Tippee bottles and stored it in that until the next day. This way I didn’t waste as many plastic bags.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE my pumping bra! I saw the “hack” where you just cut holes into a sports bra to use, but that doesn’t slip on easily over your regular bra during pumping time and holes stretch and tear. Don’t waste your time! Here is the pumping bra I use:
This thing is a lifesaver when it comes to multitasking! The pumping bra zips in the front over what you’re wearing and has multiple size settings in the back. There are straps that come with it, but I never use them. This thing is seriously amazing and I am able to get so much done while pumping at work so I don’t waste my precious plan time! My day is completely ruined if I forget it at home. Totally worth the $30.
My Pumping at Work Schedule
I don’t have a regular pumping schedule. My class schedule changes about every day, so I have had to learn to plan ahead. I usually try to pump 2 – 3 times a day. Depending on when Mia wakes up, I usually do one session in the morning and one in the early afternoon. Otherwise I do one around lunch and one around late afternoon. If I feel like I need 3 sessions that day because I feel full or have not produced enough, I do one in the morning when I get to work, lunch, and late afternoon. For once it was nice having a couple 20-30 minute plan periods instead of a long block plan.
If I did not have 1/2 hour plan periods broken up like this, it would be more difficult, but not impossible. I would have to pump at 7:30 every morning when I get to school, at lunch time at 12, and then at the end of the day right at 3:00.
Washing and Sanitizing Bottles
Honestly, washing bottles is probably my least favorite part. It means I have to do dishes. Every. Night. The CDC came out with some new guidelines recently since I have been on summer break for washing breast pump parts, but I probably will continue to stick to my old routine. However, if breastfeeding works for future babies, I will try to follow their guidelines a little closer and purchase more pump parts so I have fresh parts to use each time.
Currently this is my routine. Again, NOT CDC approved.
When I am finished pumping, I pour the milk from the collection bottles into a freezer bag or a bottle. The milk goes in the front pocket of the wet bag, and the parts go into the back pocket. Then the whole wet bag goes into the refrigerator. I take it out and reuse the parts for the next pumping session, but put the new milk in a new storage container. I only use my quick clean wipes when I am in a location where I cannot put my pump parts in the refrigerator.
When I go home for the day, I follow Medela instructions and wash all the parts. However, I do not do the best job of sanitizing every day. I only use these Micro-Steam Bags probably every other day. I did a better job of it in the beginning! The most annoying part is when I forget them in the microwave so they don’t get to the drying rack before it’s time to leave the next day! (I will blame this on the fact that our microwave doesn’t beep when it’s finished!)
Stick With It!
There are days it is annoying and difficult to keep pumping at work. Honestly, just thinking about it right now makes me look forward to Mia being able to drink cow milk! Only a few more months!! But, I know that right now it is wonderful that I can provide this for her and it is WAYYY cheaper than buying formula! (It’s also about the only way I can get her back to sleep in the middle of the night!)
So do have any questions? Feel free to comment below as I know there are more details I could probably go into! Do you pump at work? What are some tips that help you?