One of the reasons I’m not posting as frequently as I used to is that I’m spending a lot of time pumping breast milk for my baby son.
Since I went back to work in late March, you can find me hooked up to a pump nearly an hour or so each work day. So, it’s no wonder that finding new ways to make pumping breast milk easier and quicker is top of mind for me.
I’ve covered a bunch of my pumping-related tips in past hints, including hints on why to pump just twice during a typical eight-hour work day and why to skip cleaning your pumping accessories between pumping sessions one and two. Today’s hint is five more tips for pumping moms.
2. Avoid spilled milk from the bottle to freezer bag – and back again – transfer. Pump right into the bottles that your little one will eventually drink from, and store those bottles in your fridge at home, like I do. Or, pump right into your freezer bags. There also are breast milk freezer bags on the market worth knowing about, because they’re designed to work as bottles too, like those in Kiinde’s Twist Breastfeeding system (testing this system is on my to-do list).
3. Get creative with bottle labeling. In order to tell which pumped milk in the fridge is the oldest and should be used first, you need to label the milk bottles or bags. However, the labeling methods I’ve tried so far haven’t worked great. For instance, the Post-its I’ve placed on bottles tend to fall off, making it hard for those in my house to know which milk to use first.
This is why I so like this tip passed along by a Hint Mama reader: use day-of-the-week stickers designed to work in the freezer or fridge. She ordered a bulk set of such food service labels that has lasted her through two kids.
Here’s how her system works: After she pumps, she puts the sticker with the day the milk was pumped on the bottle cap, and then she writes the date on the white part of the label. So, ”the quick visual for caretakers is ‘Today’s Friday, and in the fridge I see Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday… I’ll go with the Tuesday milk first.’” My sister, meanwhile, says labeling bottles is yet another use for blue painter’s tape.
4. Consider mixing solids with formula. When you introduce solids like rice cereal and oatmeal to your little one, you need to mix the grains with formula or breast milk.
When my daughter was a baby, this mixing pretty much depleted my freezer stash of breast milk, and since my daughter rarely ate all the solids we gave her in the early days, much of my milk went to waste. This is why I’m mixing the baby food this time around with formula. Sure, formula is more expensive than breast milk, but it’s cheaper when you view breast milk as liquid gold.
5. Don’t necessarily leave work for home if you forget key pumping parts. During the first couple of weeks I was back at work this time around, I didn’t follow my own advice to always have extra pumping accessories at work. So, when I forgot key pumping accessories on my second day back, I left work. But then, when I forgot a different key part the following week, I didn’t want to leave work again.
Instead, I found another second-time pumping mom at my office who was willing to let me use her pump accessories (we have hospital-grade pumps at my work that we share) if I sterilized the parts after both my sessions (a good reason to have those pump accessory microwave sterilizing bags with you at work).
Though women are technically not supposed to share pumps and pumping accessories, assuming there are other women at your office using the same style pump as you, don’t be afraid to share parts when you’re desperate. In fact, you could even encourage your office to have extra pump supplies around for women who forget the parts going forward.
Or, if you’re unwilling to share, instead of going home, check and see if a drugstore, or a store like Target, by your office has the parts you need; you’ll want an extra set of parts at work anyway. Or, just buy a hand pump, which most drug stores seem to carry.
What do you think of the tips above? What’s your best pumping tip?