Monday, June 27, 2011

breastpumping at work

me and muffinhead at the zoo :-)

I have had a couple emails about various baby and birthing things and I will do my best to answer some of them.  A recurring question that I get is about breast-pumping at work.  So let me share my story...

When I first went back to work I was adamant about pumping alllllll the time.  10am, 12p, and 2:30p, was my (attempted) schedule - I wanted to pump around the time that Clara would eat - this was to protect my milk supply.  (Every time a baby doesn't eat from the breast, but takes a bottle instead, the mothers milk supply decreases, unless the mother pumps.)  Thankfully, in those first couple of weeks back at work, my scheduled rotations were all clinic based, so it was feasible for me to slip away and do what I needed to do...for the most part.  I was able to pump enough to provide 1.5 meals for Clara per day while at work - not much - but to me that was worth it. (I bought expensive plastic bags for freezer milk storage...and I only used 6 or 7 of them...she consumes it all the next day - so I wasn't able to build up a big stock pile...drats.)

Fast forward a couple weeks later when I returned to my surgical rotations.  I had a few realllllly hard days where I never even got to see my daughter awake!  Oftentimes there would be no time for pumping sessions between surgical cases - so I was really only able to pump during my lunch break - I'd be balancing my pumps with one arm and shoveling food into my mouth with the other!  Not entirely  ideal - and I was sad I couldn't pump more.  There were even days where I had to skip pumping for the 13 - 14 hour work-day when there wasn't even time for lunch.   Those days  were really hard and uncomfortable...and left me crazy grumpy.  But really, that is the nature of the beast they call residency!  (Gotta admit though...I had a bangerange couple of weeks recently...fantastic surgeries and as much as I complain I know that I learned a ton.)

Pumping can be hard in the workplace, especially if you don't have a set schedule.   Yet. it has been such a blessing to be able to provide Clara with a meal or two everyday.

(I have to mention that one of my friends, who is an internal medicine resident, created a schedule for herself to pump several times throughout the day.  Then she freezes it and sends it to her baby who lives far away - talk about commitment.  There are a few female residents I work with that have babies and children that live fa away - when I think about that sacrifice it snaps me back into reality, because at the end of my busy day I go home to see my little one...and I don't feel so sorry for myself.)

It is a real commitment to pump at work, and sometimes it can be sooooo super tricky to figure out where/when am I going to do this!?  But the benefits for baby are outstanding - so I will keep doing it until my milk supply dries up.  Which kinda feels like it might be starting to happen already.  I'm just happy that I made the choice to do this in the first place!

*note:  on weekends I don't pump, I breastfeed...and believe it or not, after 3.5 months of breastfeeding it FINALLY doesn't hurt anymore!  I love to feed Clara that way now.

*2nd note: I went to the best ever baby boutique in Ithaca this weekend...they have alllll sorts of mommy clubs, breastfeeding support groups and free counseling with lactation specialists to help mom's create pumping schedules when they return to work.  I wish I had that kind of support where I live! (they even have a dad group!!!)  I would try to find something like that - to help you plan your pumping schedule instead of "guessing" like I did.


  1. Ah, you aren't a newbie anymore! You're becoming an expert! You are doing great, you know.

  2. I was in ithaca last weekend too...with a pregnant friend of mine. funny coincidence!

  3. Pumping at work is hard, but sooo worth it!!!

  4. Kudos to you for keeping it up despite your crazy schedule! What a wonderful gift for your baby.



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