Sunday, February 22, 2015

12 Must Haves for Pumping at Work

It's been a couple months since I've been back to work, and it took me a while, but I think I Finally have this pumping at work thing down. At first I was completely unsure about what to bring (other than the pump itself). Everything seems pretty obvious, but I kept wondering if I had the right type of cooler or ice pack to keep the milk cold, was I being sanitary enough, and did I really need to purchase the $70 Medela bag to carry all of my gear???

Maybe I was just way overthinking it. I do that sometimes. But I finally have a collection of gear that works for me... some obvious and some not so obvious... so I thought I'd share :)

#1 - Large Bag
I finally realized I did not need to spend money on the Medela bag to carry my stuff in when I had a perfectly sized bag in my closet. I think I was feeling a bit of peer pressure as there are 2 other moms at work that are also pumping, that bring all of their stuff in the name brand bag. My wallet is glad I squashed that "keeping up with the Joneses" urge. My bag is a 31 Weekender Tote and it works great. It's sturdy and the perfect size.

#2 - Cooler
I use my 31 lunch bag (seriously, not a consultant for 31, but I do love their stuff!) I was worried about its ability to keep the milk cold enough at first, but so far so good! 

#3- Ice Pack
Duh. Again this was one of those things I over thought. Would it be cold enough, would it be too cold? (That's not a thing, by the way.) I just use an ice brick that we had from summer time, cleaned it off really well, and it keeps my milk cold for more than 4 hours. Which is all I need. 

#4 - Hands Free Bra 
Ok , this one I went with the name brand on. Don't laugh, but the first couple months I was pumping at home and the first few weeks of pumping at work, I just held the pump on with my hands. It worked perfectly fine, but it was super inconvenient! When I finally splurged on the bra it was a huge game changer at work. I could get charts done while pumping! I've seen that people cut holes in sports bras to serve the same purpose but that would require me to, like, fully undress/dress my upper half while at work. So the Medela bra with the zipper on the front is way more preferable. :)

#5 - Ziploc Bag
I assemble my parts before going into work to save time and then place them in a gallon size bag. This helps keep them clean until I use them and then I just throw it all back in without having to worry about milk getting on anything else. Maybe it's not super environmentally friendly - but it works for me. And I recycle. :) **A tip from my Sister-in-law who is also currently pumping at work: if you have to pump multiple times at work (I only work 4 hours so I only pump once!) and have access to a fridge, you can put your used parts into the ziploc bag and put it in the fridge. That way you don't have to wash the parts in between each pumping session! Huge Time Saver!**

#6 - Antibacterial Wipes
I always clear the surface that I put the pump on and then give it a quick wipe down with an antibacterial wipe before setting any of my stuff on it. I've never been one to be a germophobe, but when it comes to my baby's milk, I'm extra careful. 

#7 - Hand Sanitizer
 I always use the bathroom and wash my hands before going to pump, but once I'm in the room I'll also use a bit of hand sanitizer before pulling my stuff out. This is helpful because I have to move objects out of the way to clear a space and I touch the door handle to close and lock it... So again, just going the extra mile to keep germs away from my milk. (Winter Candy Apple was my favorite scent from Bath & Body works this year! I had candles and wall flowers all over my house in this scent! Loved it!)

#8 - Medela Wipes
These make it super easy to clean your pump pieces in between pumping sessions if you don't have access to a fridge (see #5) and its much faster than cleaning with soap and water. I don't always use these, because I only pump once at work, but I like to have them for just incase moments. For instance, one time I dropped a piece of the bottle attachment on the floor! Yikes! The Medela wipes are great for a quick clean and sanitation. You do have to let it air dry for 5 minutes after wiping it, but it's better than using a dirty piece or having to pack everything up to find a sink to wash it in. (These can be used the wipe countertops down as well if you don't want to carry around 2 different wipes!)

#9 - Storage Bags 
I use the Target brand or whatever I have a coupon for and keep the whole box in my big bag. When I'm done pumping I portion it out into the bags and then when I get home I put them right into the fridge/freezer. Seems more convenient than just putting the cap on the pumping bottles, plus it stores better in my cooler when in the bags versus the bottles.

#10 - A Sharpie
Or whatever marker/pen works for you! To document date and amount of the milk you've pumped on the bag

#11 - Water Bottle 
This one is important! I keep a water bottle at work and we have a water cooler in our gym so I'm easily able to fill my water up. I try to drink as much as I can while sitting and pumping. (Another perk of the hands free bra!)

#12 - A Snack
To go along with the water! It's a good time to get some nutrients in, especially since I'm at work and might not have the time to eat otherwise. I usually have a protien bar because it's small and quick, but packing fruits or veggies is great too! 

I think that's pretty much it. I have it pretty easy because I'm only at work for 4 hours so I only have to pump once while I'm there. I also get to pump at the same time every time, and it's a specific 45 minutes of time blocked off of my schedule. (A time slot where I'd normally be treating a patient). Its relatively stress free for me as far as expectations at work go and I'm really thankful for that.

If you pump, and you're reading this, what are some essentials you bring? What is your work situation like? I'm curious if others have a harder time being allowed a consistent time to pump or if you feel rushed to get it done? Please share! 

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