11 posts categorized "Pumping"

The Pressure of Production: how far does it go?

January 29, 2014

A text was followed by an email, with basically the same message.  Short, sweet, urgent: "What are tips for increasing production?"  Sent by my sister-in-law, first-time mom to a four-month old, now back at work as an elemtary teacher, she wanted to know every trick in the book to keep supply ample, abundant.

We have an archive chock full of advice for pumping, so look there for discussion on the classic working mamas nursing conundrum or for the mama who pumps a lot.

Does production wane as the babies age?  But, even more importantly, how we navigate and negotiate this constant pressure to produce, the constant burden to make more milk to nourish our young, the everyday need to make sure our babies continue to mark progress tracked by ounces and pounds.  It is a worry and a stressor, and it can certainly mess with supply.

At what point do we introduce supplements?  At what point to we throw up hands and say: "I just cannot make enough for you, baby girl, as much as I love you and as much as I want to make more."  It's not for want that many of us cannot supply.  Have you experienced this pressure to produce?  Have you accepted other non-nursing avenues to nourishment for our littlest ones?

Next step: no more pump but still nurse?

May 09, 2011

With my two previous champion nursing babes, I pumped until about 12-13 months.  After that, even though I was working and away from them full-time, they drank cow's milk in my absence.  Still, we nursed when we were reunited in the evenings, and we nursed all through the weekends on our days together.  Each of my first two children nursed until 2.5+ years old.

Now, with our more slender newest member of the family, I have continued to pump as additional nutrition.  Not only has he been so slight, he has also had food sensitivities to dairy & gluten that have prevented him from eating the high-fat, high-protein toddler foods that I relied on with my first two children.

And, as I was traveling for work today, hauling my pump and all its parts, pipes, nozzles, bottles and valves with me, I thought: my "baby" is almost 20 months old.  And still I pump.

Has it gone too far?  I mean, he is now eating cheese and yogurt (and apples and cereal), and a lot of them!  He is getting plenty of nutrition outside of the measily 5-6 ounce I produce for him daily.  He seems to be continuing to grow (I think.  Next weigh-in is next week).   Perhaps I fear that my supply will go away completely, not even able to supply on demand in the evenings or weekends?

Have you phased out of pumping but continued to nurse?

And, more on pumping:
Mama Pump-A-Lot 1
Mama Pump-A-Lot 2
Nursing Working Mama's Conundrum 
Breastfeeding At Work: do you know your rights?
Stress & Pump Do Not Mix

Breastfeeding at Work: Do you know your rights?

February 02, 2011

Upon returning to work, many of us have become fast friends with our breast pumps.  We have worked hard to find a pumping routine that works for our workplaces and our schedules, but this commitment has not been easy.  

Today, MomsRising.org posted a great piece about pumping at work,  highlighting the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding.  And, it makes sense.  Breastfeeding is linked to many positive health outcomes, including protecting mama & babe from illnesses, from post-partum depression, from the risk of obesity.  And, with lots of us mamas now in the workplace, playing important roles as "wage-earners" in our households, we can't just stop breastfeeding just because we go to work.

Once at work, we need support to help us continue with our breastfeeding.  We need a private place to pump, not a cold sometimes- or usually-vacant storage room where I tried pumping a few times.  Not an unlocked conference room with blinds (are you sure no one can see in?) where I positioned a chair against the door while leaning forward because the electrical outlet was a good three-feet from the door that I was trying to protect.  Not in the "quiet room" on the eleventh floor where employees sometimes went to nap, where there was no guarantee that it would be available, where it took about 10 minutes round-trip to get due to the inefficient elevators (that cuts into my productivity!).  No, not there.

Continue reading "Breastfeeding at Work: Do you know your rights?" »

Stress & Pump do not mix

November 05, 2010

Right now, I am under a lot of stress.  A lot.  I am normally under a good deal of stress, but I am currently under so much more.  Work, kids, partner's work, house, diapers, etc.  You know how it is.

I finally found some time to pump the other day at the office.  I hooked up, and .... nothing.  Dribble here, dribble there.  Minutes felt like hours.  The time passed.  I thought I felt let down, but there was no surge in volume.  I kept imagining let down, but I just could not get flowing.  In a panic, I called my husband.  "Why don't you just take a break?"  WHAT?  A break?  I don't have time for a break!  sigh.

Pumping breastmilk as a working mama is not easy.  Pumping is even harder when the stress kicks in and depletes your milk production stamina.  Please: can you share your tips and tricks for calming down, finding a nice calm mental place so you can make some milk for babe?  Do you gaze at a photo of babe?  Do you close your eyes and think of her?  Or, just close your eyes and visualize a tranquil beach and hear the sound of a whooshing ocean?


Do Not Disturb: Nursing Mama Pumping

September 22, 2009


One of my least favorite things about returning to work post maternity leave is pumping.  With regularity, every three hours despite being in my office or out and about I have to hook myself up and pump.  I close the door, draw the blinds, and turn off the lights hoping that it would prevent disruptions from coworkers. Short of putting a sign on the door stating that I am pumping, I hope every time that disruptions are minimal.  Inevitably someone knocks.  Uh, "I'll be right out in a few minutes," I would say.  I'm the kind that's a bit private about pumping at work and feel like I shouldn't draw attention to what is happening behind closed doors but I am wondering if I need to.  Should I put a sign on my door?  What should it say?  What have you done and is it effective?

The Ideal Place to Pump @ Work

September 29, 2008

Pumppump Working Mother Media is running a contest where we get to interactively design our ideal pumping room.  Cool idea if it weren't so commercial and didn't involve interior design.   But it did get me thinking...what does the ideal pumping room look like?  What's essential, nice, luxurious?  I have happily passed my pump along to the next mama, but from what I recall, some essential features are:

  • Locking door for privacy.
  • Comfortable seat.
  • Refrigerator to store the milk.
  • Sink to wash the 5 million parts.
  • Knowledge that it would be available when needed.

What else, mamas?  Let's create a list that employers could use to create the best possible space for pumping.  Like we did for family-freindly restaurants and best places to work from 'home.'  Anyone have the ideal pumping space at work?  Tell us about it, and, better yet, post a picture of it!

PS - For some info on breastfeeding at work policies in Oregon (and ways to improve it), head over to Activistas.

Mama Pump-A-Lot, Part 2

December 12, 2006

Previously in this series ... Mama Pump-A-Lot, Part 1 and Nursing Working Mama's Conundrum.

Thanks for the email, Christina. We'd love to hear other urbanMamas thoughts:

I've had this complicated love/hate relationship with my breast pump for four months now. We go back further than that, the pump and I, but it was four months ago that I went back to work, my boy enrolled in daycare and I started to lug my PumpnStyle through the streets of downtown Portland, to work and back home again. Started hauling it upstairs to this dusty, cold supply room where I slap on those chilly horns and get to work. Despite the unpleasantness, it's a way to provide for my son that as a working mama makes me feel just a bit better about everything. Every so often I become convinced that the pump is giving up the ghost, that it's just not doing its job the way it should. Then I'll have a good pumping day and come home with full bottles of milk that I show to my husband who says "good day behind the horns, eh?" But I still fantasize about the day I will leave the pump at home, that I won't have to do my time among the forgotten detrius of my company's files.

But I have questions that keep me pumping: If I stop, will I still have the breastmilk to feed my son at lunch, in the evening, in the morning, on the weekends? And what will I do with the pump when I'm done? I bought it used and heard from an LC that they're only designed to last for about a year. My e-mail to Medela about whether they take them back for refurbishment went unanswered. I hate to think about just throwing the thing away - not after our long and sordid relationship. How about it, Mamas? Anyone with advice on breaking up with your breast pump? Any recycling ideas? Anyone else just want to rant about their pumping escapades?

The Big Let Down

March 13, 2006

What's a nursing mama to do when she has issues with let down?  Rebecca writes:

I started work on a part time basis when my daughter was about 5 months old. As a result, I never really needed to pump very often. As time has gone by, and now my daughter is almost 9 months, I seem to have lost my ability to get a let down with the pump..I struggle to get even 1 oz....and leave my breast full. My daughter always gets satisfied and she is a happy babym so I know that she is getting plenty.

Along those lines, for those 2 days she is in daycare...she gets no milk and is not so happy about formula. I simply feed her before I leave and as soon as I get there.

Anyone with similar lack of let down?

Nursing Working Mama’s Conundrum

February 10, 2006

Without a doubt, I knew I was going to nurse my babes.  Nursing (while the natural and simple choice for me) is certainly wrought with its own set of challenges.  Coupled with returning to the workplace outside of the home, the challenges become even more complex.  With my first child, I nursed for 9 months - feeling guilty and inadequate for not being able to do it for at least a year.  But when it came down to the stress of trying to balance mamahood and work, to stop nursing seemed to be one of the choices I had to make to stay sane.  It stressed me out to figure out how to fit in pumping into my busy work schedule in addition to figuring out how to continue nursing will traveling out of state at least once a month.  It was also tough for me to figure out how to pump when attending all day workshops or conferences that did not provide a private room allowing me to use my electric pump.

Fast forward to child number two.  I’ve been nursing for seven months, and the reality of nursing for at least a year seems easily achievable this time. Learning from from baby number one, I’ve completely relaxed my perspective.  It’s no longer just black and white to me, and the shades of gray in between are what makes breastfeeding and working outside the home manageable.  Here are some strategies:

Think portable.  The electric pump is a luxury not a necessity.  For some reason, when I started nursing, I felt that having an electric pump was *the* only option.  But I soon found out there are situations when you need to pump, but you couldn’t find a private location, a spot with an electrical outlet, or found out that your batteries were dead.  Here’s where the trusty manual pump comes in handy.  Crazy as it sounds, I’ve been pretty much solely hand pumping this time around.  With a hand pump, you can do it the bathroom or in the car.  It’s also been convenient on road trips.  An added plus is that it’s compact.  The downside is that it’s probably not as efficient as an electric pump.  In my case, it’s a draw whether I use the manual or electric.

Don’t stress over breast is best.  I had to overcome the mental hurdle of thinking that breast milk was the only way to go to ensure a healthy baby.  Obviously, it’s the best choice, but you’re not going to hurt your child if you need to supplement with formula.  And for the mamas that solely formula feed, they’ve also been known to raise healthy children as well!  We leave formula with our caretaker in the event he runs out of breast milk.  On the rare occasion when it’s given to him, he drinks it (unwillingly).  I’d rather have him eat then starve.

Be creative.  Remember that breast milk can be refrigerated up to 8 days, frozen for up to 3 months, and be unrefrigerated for up to 8 hours.  If you are in a situation that you have to be away from you baby for more than 24 hours, check to see if you have access to a refrigerator or freezer.  Bring ice packs, and a small cooler.  I can fit my manual pump and three bottles of milk in a lunch cooler with ice packs.

Feed and pump.  If I feel like I'm running low on milk, I will pump while nursing my son.  I feed him on one side, and use my manual pump on the other side.  It's amazing to see a true let-down occur and typically I will collect more milk will nursing him.

I would love to hear from other moms who have to pump.  What are your strategies for handling work and pumping?  What about professions that require rigid schedules and not easily conducive to pumping?  Any mamas with strategies allowing you to deal with issues?

Mama Pump-a-Lot

November 02, 2005

How the heck are we supposed to work at the office all day and still nourish our young.  Medela, oh sweet Medela, how you make it easy for us working mamas to continue offering nam-nam to our babies.

When I had the first baby, I was the third to deliver in a cluster of two other expecting moms.  When I returned to work, they already had the pump routine down pat. On my first day back, they came by my cube at 10:30am. "C'mon, let's go," they said. Off we snuck, each of us with a Pump-in-Style over our shoulder. While I was still on maternity leave, they had secured an unused office to mark as our nursing territory. We three shared a key, and the office was otherwised locked.  This is where we three pumped, pumped, and pumped gallons of milk over the course of the next several months.  We were like the pumping mafia.  We could exchange knowing looks summoning one another to our calls of duty; we shared a bond.  In the war room, facing each other as we pumped, we'd share stories of sleepless nights, "Ferberizing" our babies, introducing solids, grandparental antics, stroller and sling reviews.  Those few months of hard-core pumping was affirming.  To have mamas in similar states as me (the oft engorged state) made it a little easier.

The second time around, when I returned to work, I was lucky to have my own office.  When pump time came along, I'd just close the door.  I could continue working (or web-surfing), and I was pretty relaxed in my own space.  When I switched jobs, I was stuck back in a cube farm.  I had two options when it came to pumping: 1) trek up 3 flights of stairs to the quiet room or 2) pump in the bathroom.  By this time, I had no shame.  Pumping in the ladies room was more convenient and it was fine by me.  It was probably weird for the other ladies to walk into the restroom to see me pumping in the corner, watching myself in the mirror.  **eeewwwww**

At my husband's office, his next-door cube-mate simply put up a shower curtain for her privacy, and that was enough.  She could then continue working and pump away.

Here are some things that worked for me through my two stints of pumping.  I know these things seem so commonplace, and maybe you've heard it all before, but here goes:

1 - Get comfortable.  During my first pumping stint, I felt so comfortable pumping with my two other mama friends.  When I would pump alone, I remember feeling a little nervous and lonely.  I was paranoid that my milk supply was affected by the nervousness.  Being comfortable and relaxed helps the milk come down.  So, find a place that will work for you, and make sure it's secure so you don't need to worry about uncomfortable intrusions.  Every workplace should have a quiet room.  Also seek out small conference rooms that lock, lit storage rooms that also lock, clean bathrooms or ladies' lounges, locker areas.

2 - Schedule your pump times.  If you work in a busy meeting-intensive environment, you can schedule your pump times into your Outlook calendar (as a private appointment).  For me, it deterred people from trying to suck me into meetings at that time.  As much as possible, try to stick to your pump times.  I have left meetings where the end was nowhere in sight and when I already felt myself leaking in my bra.  Pumping works best spread out during the day, and done during a time to replace a normal feeding.  When I was on the twice-a-day pump schedule, I would pump at 10:30am then again around 2:30pm.  I would feed before I went to work, around 6:30am, then again when I got home from work, around 5pm.  That seemed to be spread out enough, and it seemed like a good routine when I would be engorged enough to pump at my designated times.

3 - Relax and think of your cute baby!  The Medela pumps have the photo slot for a reason.  Staring at a picture of your baby does nothing but send good vibes to your nam-nams and entices them to let-down.  If you're trying to increase supply, go ahead and pump away for a good 10-20 minutes after let-down.  You can stimulate more production after a few days when your body readjusts.  And, don't worry.  By trying to pump, you're doing the best thing possible for your baby.  I constantly have nursing paranoia: I'm not producing enough; I'm such a bad mama.  I have to actively take long, deep breaths to relax and remember that, doggonit, I am good enough.

4 - Go for the long haul if you're upping production.  I have had moments when I dump out a mere ounce on each boob after let down.  And what a let down that is!  We're made to produce when there's demand, right?  I love the heavy-duty industrial pump (the Pump-in-Style) for helping get production up.  For me, after I let down, I'd continue to pump for another 10 or 20 minutes!  Yes - after let-down!  I think that's the trick.  It was a little sad to watch my poor little nam-nams get nothing but air sucked out of them.  But, in due time, I was finding that my inital dump would result in more than just one ounce per side.  On occasion during this marathon pumping sessions, I would have two let-downs.  Weird.

Pumping Breastmilk

January 29, 2005

I have been successfully breastfeeding for 2 months now and am now wondering about pumping. I am not planning on going back to work so I don't need to I guess.but here are my questions Do I need to pump? How much should I pump? Should I rent or buy? If I buy is a manual pump ok? (I am broke) When should I pump? Will it screw with milk production? Do I have to buy bottles and then what kind? Pretty much any info on pumping would be appreciated.