Being a new mom is challenging. Everyone knows about the sleep deprivation, ‘mom brain’ helping you to forget to buy the items you even wrote down on your grocery list, and diapers. Everyone worries about the umbilical stump, cutting baby’s nails, and the color and texture of each bowel movement. One thing many new moms don’t think about is pumping. “Pumping” is the process of using a machine to express breast milk. It is as unglamorous as it sounds, but when that pressure is building, it’s the only thing you will want to do!
For moms who travel for work, pumping is a challenge. Finding a sanitary and private place may mean asking a client for accommodations, and excusing yourself to take a thirty minute break might make you feel guilty. Release that guilt, mama! You are a strong woman capable of creating food for your baby and you can overcome any obstacle! This guide will help provide you with some ideas to relieve your pumping stress.
Keep it clean
The most important thing when pumping away from home is to maintain cleanliness. Keep your clean pumping parts in a zipper top plastic bag. Don’t put your pumping paraphernalia away dirty; clean it right away! If you have access to a microwave, rinse your used parts and sterilize them in a Medela steam bag or similar product.
If you do not have access to a kitchen, rinse all the parts that contact your milk with potable water and wipe them dry. Use clean paper towel if you must, but a sanitizing wipe formulated specifically for breast pump cleaning is the best option.
Many people will tell you to store your parts in the fridge, unwashed, between pumping sessions. This is tempting advice because you want to minimize your break time and get back to work, but do not take shortcuts with your baby’s health. The Centers for Disease Control published guidelines after an infant contracted a deadly illness from unwashed pump parts. The CDC emphasizes washing and sanitizing every time you pump. If you don’t have the time, buy an extra set of pumping pieces and wash them all in the evening.
Keep it cool
Milk is delicious; babies love it, but so do bacteria. After you pump, store your liquid gold in sterile, single use zipper top baggies. Breast milk can actually be stored at room temperature for six hours if you have no other options, but it’s best to refrigerate it for a longer shelf life. If you have access to a kitchen, store labeled and dated bags in the refrigerator. If you’re traveling by vehicle, milk will remain unspoiled for up to 24 hours in a small cooler with ice packs. A lunch bag will work, but temperatures are better maintained in a polystyrene cooler. The Mayo Clinic publishes detailed guidelines for milk storage.
Anything can happen when you’re on the road, so it’s important to have a backup plan. Always have the standard a/c power adapter for your pump, an adapter that connects to your vehicle’s cigarette lighter, and a hand pump. You do not want to be left engorged with no relief and away from home!
Keep it Easy
Pumping can be complicated. Finding a private place, sanitizing, and storing the milk requires planning and multitasking. Moms welcome anything that can make the process easier! First, get a pumping bra. These miracles allow you to pump hands free so you can drive or continue work on a computer if you have a private office.
Your car, the one with six large windows, is not a private place to pump. If you want to avoid sharing that part of your life with everyone on the highway, you can use a shawl or other pumping cover. A lot of people find a blanket with clips helpful because it won’t slip down or fall off.
With experimentation, you will discover what works best for you. The technical part will become routine in no time. You will soon be an expert at multitasking while you pump because, as new moms, there is precious little down time. Great job breastfeeding, mama!