Pumping for the working mom - the low down

For moms going back to work, you will need to form a plan around producing and maintaining your milk supply while being away from your baby. It may seem overwhelming at first, but I promise you will get into a routine once you get started. One year later, I find myself grabbing my pump before I think about looking for my wallet (and yes, I admit to driving off without the latter from time to time).

If you can, talk to whomever needs to know at work ahead of time about your intentions, and agree on where you will pump. Also, seek out colleagues who are also pumping moms.

What do you need to know about acquiring a pump?  If you’re going back to work, it’s safe to assume that you’ll want to maximize every minute you spend away from actual work, so the more efficient your pump is the better, meaning how quickly the pump extracts, or in lactation terms, expresses the milk. You can rent or purchase a pump. Both do an excellent job of maintaining your supply while you are away from your baby.

The next issue is buying a used vs new pump. At this point you are swimming in baby-related expenses, so acquiring a used pump may seem like the perfect way to save a bit. However, used pumps are not recommended, and it’s not just a marketing ploy. Here are some issues with used pumps:  

  • Most retail pumps, unlike hospital-grade rental pumps, are not closed systems. This means that the motor is not separated from the milk, which can result in milk getting into the motor and the subsequent growth of bacteria. Bacteria from one user can cross-contaminate the next user.
  • If you don’t know the previous history of a used pump, you don’t know how close it is to the end of its life, and the last thing you want is to have a pump die on you while you have 10 minutes to pump your full breasts. And if this happens, you will be running to the nearest store to buy a new pump anyway. You need the best pump you can afford. If it helps, think about the fact that good pumps may be expensive, but they are still less expensive than the cost of formula. 
  • If you borrow a pump from a friend, think about how you will feel when you return it and it stops working when she needs it – not worth your friendship.

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