The Zen of Pumping

In an ideal world, we would have more maternity leave and be celebrated for our commitment to breast milk…

You are dedicated to breastfeeding your baby and are fortunate enough to be able to do so. Pump breaks are forced interruptions to your daily work routine, and you can choose to multi-task while pumping because you feel the pull of work, but permit me to make a suggestion.

To begin with, if you must continue working while pumping, do your arms a favor and purchase a hands-free corset bra or use a hands-free pump.

And here’s another idea: Close your eyes, let the whirring of the pump clear your mind, and allow yourself to check out for a few minutes. You are connecting with your baby throughout the day by giving her the gift of breast milk. And by the way, you are indeed multi-tasking by producing nourishment for your baby while giving yourself a few precious moments of earned solitude.

Our bodies are in “fight or flight” mode most of the time at work, which certainly doesn’t promote oxytocin release (see managing milk supply). Additional suggestion: If you are incapable of instantaneous relaxation, use your iPod and have a playlist of “Instant Downtime” music. At the very least, do not permit yourself to feel guilty about taking time away from the desk.

Working with others who are using your milk supply

  • Store in bite-sized containers, meaning if your baby doesn’t drink 5 ounces at a time, don’t store 5 ounces in each bottle because you may end up wasting the rest if the container gets left out or too much is thawed from a frozen container.
  • Get agreement with your care provider on how your milk will be handled.
  • Understand on a daily basis how many ounces your baby is drinking so you can know how much milk to express every day and how many ounces should be in each bottle, and to simply to stay informed of ebbs and flows in your baby’s feeding routine.
  • Reach agreement on who cleans the empty bottles if you have the freedom to do so. For example, I provide clean, ready-to-go bottles for our nanny to use in exchange for her washing the used bottles at the end of the day. In this way, I don’t come home to a stack of dirty bottles to wash.
  • It is important establish the understanding with your care provider that if your baby is getting fussy at the end of the day for milk, it is better to wait a few more minutes for you to breastfeed rather than be given another bottle. This requires daily communication with caregiver about time of arrival.

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