Going back to work after having a baby is overwhelming enough. I found trying to figure out all of the logistics of pumping incredibly stressful on top of dealing with the emotions associated with leaving Baby Girl. Plus, trying to find time to pump when you’re a teacher can be particularly difficult because you never really have any “down” time, especially if you teach at the elementary levels. Here’s a sample schedule that worked for me:
5:30 – nurse
7:30 – school day begins
10:30 – lunch (pump)
12:45-1:30 – planning period (pump at 1)
2:20 – school day ends
2:30 – nurse at sitter’s (This time varied depending on the adjustments made to our nursing schedule as Lily grew. We got to a point where I would just nurse her when we got home and then before bed.)
My doula gave me the best advice. She said, “Don’t make it awkward, and it won’t be awkward.” I was open about what I was doing. When my principal wanted to schedule meetings during my planning time, I would simply say that I had to have time to pump and then provide my availability. If I was asked to sub during my plan, I would say, “I’m really sorry, but I need that time to pump.” Everyone was very understanding. I just made sure my door was locked and my blinds were closed. I also put a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door. (You can find some fun ones on Pinterest.) If I happened to be at another building, I would ask the office where I could pump. “All I need is an outlet, a chair and a lock on the door!”
The following items made the whole routine super quick and easy:
- Klean Kanteen – I got two of these stainless steel bottles so I could keep one and leave one with the sitter. They’re great because they’re easy to clean, and they don’t retain any smell. They also help keep the milk cold. When I picked Lily up at the end of the day, I would take the dirty one home and leave the fresh one with the sitter. That way I didn’t have to worry about remembering to bring the milk in the morning.
- bottle bag – I really like the Skip Hop double bottle bag. It held everything nicely, and the ice pack that comes with it is awesome. Somehow, it stayed colder longer than anything else I tried.
- hands-free pumping bra – There are MANY different brands and styles of pumping bras, but this one worked so well for me. I was able to get myself set up and then answer emails or grade or putz around on Pinterest as I pumped.
- extra set of breast shields and tubes – This is the one I bought, but I always preferred the shields made by Medela. They just seemed to work better. I highly recommend getting another set of everything, though, in case something breaks and so you don’t have to worry about washing your pump supplies every single night.
- wet/dry bag – I would pack my supplies in the bag at night and toss it in my school tote so everything was ready to go. Then, after I was done pumping, I could just put the dirty stuff in the wet bag and throw it back in my tote. I had two wet bags that I would alternate. I rinsed them out every night and used the clean one while the other dried. Then, I’d put them in with the laundry on the weekend. Super easy and (I found) less messy than Ziploc bags.
- Medela Quick Clean Wipes – These are great to have on hand, especially if you don’t have access to a fridge. You can wipe everything off after your first pumping session so you’re good to go for your next one.
I was fortunate enough to have access to a mini-fridge in the office next to my classroom. This allowed me to pump in the morning and store the Klean Kanteen and one set of pump supplies (one breast shield and one bottle) in the bottle bag in the fridge for my afternoon session instead of having to wipe everything off and store it back in the wet bag.
Getting the hang of all of this in the midst of re-adjusting to work and becoming accustomed to your new life as a working mom is hard and can be emotionally draining. I am confident you will find your footing and whatever system works for you, though. And I hope this post at least gets you started!
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