Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Postpartum: Exclusively Pumping at Work

I originally posted about my experience exclusively pumping.  I wrote my first blog about pumping because I found it difficult to get information about scheduling and how to store the milk, especially for the exclusive pumper.  (Read it here.) Now, I bring you an update of how it is going pumping at work.  

I am an exclusively pumping teacher. 

Pumping is its own beast, but pumping while teaching high school and coaching cheerleading during football season in Texas... Whew!!!! (Sorry for all the prepositions there!) Three weeks into the school year, I have already learned a lot.

My current schedule:
Pump 1 - 5:50am
Drive to School
Pump 2 - 7:40am
School Starts at 8:00am
Pump 3 - 12:00pm
(My lunch which is really only 20 minutes long)
Pump 4 - 2:30pm
(My conference period) 
Pump 5 - 6:00pm
Pump 6 - 9:30pm LONG PUMP (I pump as long as it takes to feel totally empty before bed.)

My schedule has little to nothing to do with my choice at this point. It is all based my assigned lunch and my assigned conference. I pump after I get home from practice, so really I make do with what I can. Sometimes that happens, and if you want to pump long term (anything longer than 6 weeks) you really have to be flexible and committed to using every single spare minute of the day.   I mean for real. There are times when I feel like I don't have one second of spare time.

This schedule is soon to be on the change again because I simply cannot keep up and have energy each day.  My goal is to drop two pumps in the next month.  (That is if I can keep it up!)

Changing schedules has been really hard on my body, and while I never fought engorgement in the summer, I now deal with some sort of achy boob almost daily.  :/ As a friend told me, "yes, it hurts, but it's temporary." Some days are easier than others.  

Milk Production:
In the summer, I was able to be on my own schedule.  I created an oversupply by pumping so frequently for so long, and I consistently made 60 ounces a day.  When I started back to school, I noticed a reduction in my supply almost immediately.  Now a month into the school year, I am down to 40 ounces a day.  This is fine for us because I am just maintaining. Each day I pump no longer gets us ahead, but each day means another day that the baby gets breast milk. 

I am still vigilant about drinking water, and I will say the days I eat more I can tell a difference in my milk output.  My milk output is never spot on and varies a bit from day to day. (I can vary anywhere from 1 to 10 ounces.)

Storing Milk on the Go:
I am a secondary teacher, and there aren't too many inconspicuous ways to carry bottles full of milk to a faculty fridge. (A faculty fridge that you never know who is in, and you're never sure what the smell is!!) I decided that it wasn't worth the walk down the hall, since I am already so pressed for time when I am pumping at work.  I could keep a mini fridge in my room, but there isn't much room... So, I use a cooler back pack. It works for me! I pack my pack every morning for pumping all day. 

I already told you what I keep in my pump bag here.

In my cooler, I take:
    - two of the tall skinny ice packs
    - two extra bottles 
    - two extra lids 
    - a cup towel for extra milk
    - ziploc baggies just in case 

Personal Experience:
Pumping at school is terrifying initially.  During our summer in service week, one of my male principals accidentally come into one of my fellow pumping teachers classrooms.  Poor things the both of them!!! I made a sticky note that says "do not enter" and taped black construction paper together to make a makeshift sign.  Each time I pump, I place these things on the window.  I don't keep them up all the time, so that my janitors and principals know the difference.  It seems to work so far.  I have had to yell at a janitor putting keys in the door once, and I have had a technology guy waiting on me outside my door.  These are not comfortable situations, but you just make do.

Honestly, the worst is students outside the door waiting to be let it.  The talk and laugh and jiggle the door handle and FREAK you out.  

My cheerleaders know that I pump, but they know because it's been a necessity to tell them.  I have to leave another coach in charge for 20 or so minutes on game nights.  Plus, they are with me so much more. 

I will say that I thought pumping was tough before school started... but now, I cannot even explain what a commitment it is.  I worry about leaking through my shirt all the time. I hurt more often than I don't.  I think about quitting all the time.  I feel guilty for thinking about quitting.  It's a lot more emotional than I ever knew.  

I think my time as an exclusive pumper is drawing closer to it's end.  I always said that I would do what was best for my family, and as long as it worked we would do it.  I find more and more that stopping to pump isn't working.  It is limiting.

But, even with all of that... I am so proud that Moose still hasn't had formula.  I also think it has played a big part in my loosing all the baby weight so quickly.

I really appreciate all of you guys keeping up with the blog.  It's been quite a journey! Leave a comment and share your pumping questions or your pumping experience.

Other Postpartum Posts: 


  1. This has been such a great help for me to read! My husband and I are having our 2nd daughter in December, and I plan on breastfeeding and pumping to supplement. I did manage to ensure momma's milk only for the first 6 months of our now 3 year old, but for this second one I am having to go back to work sooner. Pumping at work, where I work as one of two females in a male dominant office is a pretty daunting task to even think about, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

    Thank you for your tips and candid thoughts about your journey....and KUDOS for doing such a fantastic job keeping with it! Many people just don't realize that pumping and breastfeeding can be a full time job in itself, but it is totally worth it!

  2. I am about 26 weeks pregnant with my 3rd child. I have already decided that I am going to be an EPM due to work, past breastfeeding experience, and my husband's desire to help feed the baby. So, I am trying to find as much information as possible. What did you read when you starting pumping? How do the storage bags work (do they attach directly to your pump or is it like the bag in a bottle)? Any and all advise would be greatly appreciated!

    1. I'm sure that you've figured the bag thing out already but for anyone else that's wondering, there are many options and some friends on the type of pump. Medela makes bags that you can hook to your pump with an additional adaptor, but I personally didn't care for them. They don't hold much milk so you can't combine the milk from one session into one bag. I've also had the hole that you hook into rip causing quite a scare (thought the milk was going to spill everywhere). Target makes a bag comparable to Lanshinoh's bags and it will hold well over the advertised 6oz (at least 9). You have to pump into bottles and transfer but it cuts down on what you have to carry in your bag. You can pump straight into the drop ins with the Playtex pump as well as store in them but there are additional pieces to buy and they definitely take up more storage space. They don't lay flat like the bags. The nice thing about this pump is that there is an inexpensive adaptor that lets you screw on regular bottles. I have a medela, playtex, and lanshinoh- all double electric. I got the lanshinoh through my health insurance company (they will provide one per baby but you have to call them to get the info to order). It works ok but I wouldn't buy another one. Do your research, they have issues with the motor. The medela really is the better pump and if you plan on breastfeeding/pumping for an extended period, it really is worth it. The savings from not having to buy formula pays for the pump and then some. Hope this helps!