No, Manually Milking yourself at the office is not as fun as it sounds!
Despite my best efforts to nail the supply and demand situation, when I went back to work I still hadn’t quite figured out this whole breast-pumping thing.
I would sit on the loo in the cold bathroom massaging my milkers to try and get some milk flowing and everyday I ended up with the most pitiful amount of milimetres, but still, I was proud.
All my hard-pumped milk would last approximately half a second.
To all the moms who (successfully) pump – I take my nipple pads off to you!
How I Increased My Supply
The first thing I did was take the clinical aspect out of the breast-pumping process. I had gotten into such a frantic state of mind and (naturally) put an insane amount of pressure on myself.
All I could think of was ‘What will my baby drink while I’m not with her?’ and visions of a starving Arabella flooded my tired brain and this, coupled with the guilt of not being with her during the day at such a young age, began to eat at me and dried my milk up good and proper.
I got off that damn toilet, placed a towel on the floor, sat in a relatively comfortable position and tried to put my self in a more relaxed head space.
Whilst still abiding by the office dress code, I wore comfortable bras and clothing that allowed me to easily access my breasts in as little time as possible.
Instead of just poking, prodding and squeezing, I gave my breasts the respect they deserved. I massaged them and even started talking to them (ja, ja I know this sounds certifiable) and telling them how great they are and what a wonderful job they were doing.
Your diet is incredibly important and affects the quality of the milk you produce, and everybody wants to give their baby the good stuff.
I have always been that person that literally forgets to eat when I am engrossed in a task, but obviously now the stakes were higher than ever. As a result, I started setting alarms on my phone to remind me of meal times and pump times.
It was a bit iffy in the beginning when I showed up to work and filled the little staff fridge with endless Tupperware but I soon got over that (breast pumping makes you huuuungry!)
I made an effort to eat and drink supposedly milk-increasing foods, but quickly eliminated those I deemed to not really have an effect. My brekkie became oats and I substituted coffee for cups of fennel tea. I made sure to eat a nutrient packed lunch and some days I even snacked in between meals.
After all, Input = Output
Make use of those maternal instincts
You know that scene in Grey’s Anatomy where Bailey hears one of her interns crying and immediately begins lactating? Welcome to the world of being a breast pumper!
I began watching videos on my phone of Arabella being her adorable self and the milk began flowing beautifully. If I didn’t have my phone on me I visualised her gorgeous little mouth suckling happily away at my breast and it was like the flood gates had opened!
This sounds silly, but make sure you have a breast-pumping survival kit (this can be a drawer in your desk or an actual packed bag) with you when you head off to start your pumping session.
It really does suck when you have started pumping and realise you left your container or you get moer out thirsty and have to stop mid-session to get the necessary stuff and end up having to start all over.
Keep everything you know you need on hand for when you need it. In my case I needed a towel, my phone, a storage container, a snack and a glass of water or cuppa fennel tea.
Keeping my breast-pumping sessions scheduled was a life saver. This way, my employer knew when I was going to be out of action for 15 minutes. Plus I never forgot a session and was able to stick to my daily pump quota.
I set alarms on my phone and made sure they somewhat aligned with my company’s tea and lunch breaks.
Also, having a schedule in place means that your co-workers know what you are doing (and where) and they will not barge in and scar both of you for the rest of time.
As with most things pregnancy, birth and boob related, a breast-pumping support system is a non-negotiable.
An online support system can be your bestie and really help you to get a hang of this breast-pumping thing. I joined a Facebook group called Exclusive Pumpers South Africa and if I ever had a supply problem, needed support or advice I went straight here.
Make sure that your employer knows about your need to pump and if they require a gentle reminder that it is your legal right to do so then best you get to work reminding them.
Keep it Clean
This goes without saying but make sure that you keep the area in which you breast-pump nice and clean for the person who will be using the space after you. In my case, it was a shared bathroom so I’m sure you can imagine how important this was.
Also, keep your equipment clean. Rinse, wash and sterilize any pumping equipment or storage containers that you use.
Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk
This is a perfect example of me not always following my own advice.
I cannot even explain the amount of times I had to step out of a meeting, leg it to the bathroom and squirt some milk out into the sink for temporary relief. Also, I cannot even explain the amount of times I cried because I viewed this as a waste.
Seriously, as a breast-pumper in the work space you need to accept the fact that you will not be able to utilize every drop of milk. It’s important to remember that breast-pumping is a challenge at home and even more so in the work place!
Take it easy and remember that you are doing this for your baby.
Work it, momma!