The logistics of pumping at work and sending bottles to daycare (updated!)

It’s back to school time, and, for some new moms, that means the start of having baby in daycare, pumping at work, and sending bottles to daycare.* I was recently emailing with someone about this and realized I’d basically written a blog post on the topic in the emails, so figured I’d make it official. My goal for this post is similar to that for other related posts: to lay out what worked for me (and what didn’t) in the hopes that it is useful for someone else, and also to ask people to say in the comments what worked for them. I often hear from readers that reading through the comment threads on these posts is really helpful for them. So, please comment!

Also: I have a related post on traveling to meetings while breastfeeding. In some ways, that’s pumping 201. This one will be at the 101 level, focusing more on the basics. I will include a similar disclaimer, though: this is just what I have done. I am certainly not a breastfeeding or breastmilk storage expert, I am not a pediatrician or medical professional, and this is definitely not medical advice.

I’ll start out by repeating the two general pumping tips that I had in that earlier post:

  1. Get a hands free pumping bra. It really is worth it, in my opinion. It will let you work on your computer (or, you know, read your favorite ecology blog) while pumping. Some people make their own out of an old sports bra and rubber bands, but I bought a pre-made one.
  2. When pumping at work, I put all the pump parts in a Tupperware in the fridge in between pumping sessions. This saves a LOT of washing of pump parts. Washing pump parts is incredibly annoying, so this is a very good thing.

Okay now on to new things. Continuing on the theme of washing all those pump parts: As I said just above, I would store the flanges and bottles in the fridge in between pumping sessions, then bring them home at night to wash them. With my second child, I decided to buy a whole bunch of flanges and bottles, thinking that then I could just wash all them in the dishwasher every couple of days. But our dishwasher in our current house left a weird film on them, so I had to wash everything by hand. This didn’t happen with the dishwasher in our old house, and I’m not sure why it would be different. So, if you’re considering that strategy, I’d suggest running the parts in the dishwasher before investing in all the flanges.

In terms of bottles, the advice I was given was to get the bottle with the fewest parts and just stick with that, so there’s less to wash. That advice worked for us for the most part. The exception is that we had a really hard getting my daughter to take a bottle. We waited a while to introduce bottles with her, partially because it took a while to get her nursing well, and partially because we were afraid of nipple confusion. (As far as I know, the current thinking is that nipple confusion is not something to worry about.) So, with her, we did initially use a bottle that is supposed to more closely mimic nursing, then switched to some really simple bottles. In the end, I don’t know how much of an effect the bottle had. I think the biggest thing was that she started daycare and the daycare workers were really good at getting babies to take bottles. It was really stressful to not know if she’d take a bottle at daycare, though. With my son, we introduced the bottle much earlier (at around 1 month) and there was no problem.

Another bit of information that ended up being really important for me to know is that breastmilk supply is higher for pretty much everyone in the morning. So, skewing my pumping sessions earlier in the day got me much more milk. I would nurse my baby on just one side first thing in the morning, then pump on the other side. It was a bit annoying to pump first thing in the morning, but it was a really effective way to get an extra bottleof milk. Adding on pumping later in the day yielded much, much less milk. A downside to this strategy is that it meant I needed to have a pump at home and at work. At first, I lugged my pump back and forth with me, but eventually decided it was worth buying a second pump.**

With my son, I started that extra morning pumping session before he went to daycare. That allowed me to build up a freezer stash, which was really nice because I found it much harder to keep supply up once he was in daycare full time. (If you tend towards oversupply, though, you might need to be careful to not overdo things.) If you have extra milk for a freezer stash, it’s really useful to freeze the breastmilk storage bag lying on its side, rather than upright. When you freeze it upright, it can wrap around the rack on the freezer, and, even if it doesn’t do that, all the blobby bags get really hard to keep organized. I would lay the bag flat in a thin tupperware to freeze it, then transfer it to a gift bag. The general idea is here, but I gave up on the system of pulling it out the bottom. I had different amounts in different bags, so a strict first in first out system doesn’t always make sense. Instead I just arranged them all side-by-side and then pulled out the oldest ones that would make up the right amount of milk.

In terms of sending the bottles to daycare, an issue we’ve had with both of the daycares we used is that there’s a tendency to want to give the baby a bottle right away if the baby starts to cry. I would do the same! And, of course, I want my baby to get food if s/he needs it, but I also don’t want breastmilk wasted when they heat up a bottle and then baby didn’t really want it because s/he was fussing for a different reason.*** This meant that they often wanted me to send a lot of milk (or formula). But it seemed like my baby didn’t really need more than 16 ounces in bottles during the day, given that I would drop off a just-fed baby around 9 and would pick him up around 5:20 and could nurse him right then. When talking about this with a friend, she recommended playing around with the amount of milk in the bottles, and suggested increasing the amount of milk in the bottles. That seemed totally counterintuitive to me, but it seemed to work. With both of my children, when they got a bit older (I can’t remember exactly, but think it was about 9 months), they seemed more satisfied with fewer larger bottles (e.g., sending 3 5-ounce bottles would keep them happier than sending 4 4-ounce bottles). I think I started out by sending 3 month bottles with my kids when they first started daycare, but I actually can’t remember at this point. Comments with tips on how readers allocated milk to bottles would be great! And, of course, formula can be a great option in some cases. With my daughter, I was willing to go to really great lengths to keep her exclusively breastfed. With my son, I was more open to supplementing with formula if needed, but he ended up not needing it.

Do you have other tips related to pumping and/or having a nursling at daycare? Please leave them in the comments! As I said at the beginning, I get a lot of feedback from moms that they find the comment threads on these posts to be really helpful.

Update: This pingback reminds me that I forgot to address where to pump. I am fortunate that I have my own office with a door that closes and locks, so this hasn’t been a major issue for me. (That’s probably why I forgot to address it, especially since the person I was recently emailing about this also has her own office.) Occasionally, I’ve had to use a lactation room elsewhere (e.g., when in a full day retreat), but those are definitely harder to use (either because they’re busy when I need them, I can’t figure out how to get in, or they are not conveniently located). When my first postdoc had a baby while she was in my lab (and in a shared office), we arranged for an office in the building to be converted to a lactation room for pumping moms to use. It wasn’t an official lactation room, but the pumping moms in the department knew about it and were given keys to it. Official lactation rooms on campus are better than nothing, but, unless they’re really convenient to one’s office/lab, getting to them can become a barrier to pumping.

* Some people have a childcare arrangement that allows them to nurse the baby instead of pumping. That has definite perks, but isn’t an approach I’ve used, so I can’t really speak to it.

** A reminder for American moms that the Affordable Care Act means that health insurance must cover the cost of a breast pump.

*** Regulations make it so that the bottle has to be used up within a certain amount of time of being heated, and can’t be put back in the fridge. So, if the baby wasn’t hungry, that milk gets dumped. That’s pretty painful if you woke up early to pump that bottle!

22 thoughts on “The logistics of pumping at work and sending bottles to daycare (updated!)

  1. Pingback: Science Moms | DoctorAl

  2. In the “this is my experience” camp, I do neither (1) nor (2).

    (1) I find that I cannot let down while working or looking at a screen. Instead I need to detach from work and either clear my mind or think about my baby. That usually means staring out a window — or off into space. So I don’t bother with a hands-free bra. (I’m also skeptical that it would work for me, for physical morphology reasons.)

    (2) I agree wholeheartedly that washing pump parts is a huge hassle, but I don’t want super cold pump parts on my breasts either! So I don’t refrigerate my pump parts. Instead I rinse them and let them air dry on a clean towel. I know some people will compromise and put all but the flanges (the parts that touch the breast for those not in the know) in the fridge and then clean just the flanges so they’re not cold.

    I do have two sets of pump parts and keep them both handy. That way if I accidentally drop a part (it happens from time to time), I can substitute in another and save all the washing for when I get home. I don’t use the dishwasher.

    YES to skewing pumping toward earlier times. When you think, “should I pump before or after that meeting?” do it before. More milk.

    I had the reverse situation with my two babies. Baby number 1 took to the bottle easily and kept on it (both with individual caretakers and in daycare). Baby number 2 took a bottle at first and a little hesitantly. But around 6 months, we had a major caretaker change and so I was home a lot. It happened around the holidays, and so I realized later it was about 6 weeks that he never got a bottle (because I was always available to nurse). After that, he refused the bottle. We tried everything. No bottle ever again. But he was big and healthy and starting to take solid foods, and my pediatrician said that it was fine for him to just drink water for thirst while I was at work, eat solid foods when he was hungry, and then nurse before and after work. So that’s what we did. I have to say that I did increase my working-at-home days for several months as a result, until I was convinced that solid food and water was enough for him during the day. (We have an in-home caregiver.)

    I continued to pump at work, though, to keep my supply up for the days I wasn’t away from him. And I donate this extra milk to a milk bank. Something I highly recommend looking into IF you have surplus milk.

    I also keep one pump at work and one at home. But that’s just because I had one pump from baby #1 and now health insurance is required to pay for a pump when a woman gives birth! So I got me a second pump when baby #2 was born. It is great to not have to lug pumps around.

    For bottle allocation for baby #1, who was in daycare, I provided 2 bottles per day with instructions on when to give them. He was used to nursing every three hours. So I’d nurse at drop-off, he’d get two 4-oz. bottles at set intervals during the day, and then I’d nurse at pickup 7-8 hours later. Giving them at set times made a lot of sense for us, because he wasn’t typically hungry or thirsty at other times. I found that with in-home caregivers, you have more flexibility with feeding. For example, you can let them reheat a used bottle, which daycares won’t do.

    Where to pump: I use an office that is rarely used by a professor that spends most of his time at a field site. It’s not ideal. When he’s around — or when someone has decided to put a visitor in that room since it’s seen as “available” — I use the lactation room that is a 5-minute walk away in another building.

    As I mentioned, I work from home a lot and have an in-home caregiver, so I do have experience nursing while working. Despite the obvious benefits (no pumping! no bottles! no parts cleaning! cuddles with baby!), it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. Instead of saying goodbye to my baby once per day at daycare dropoff, I’ve had to do it 3-4 times per day. For a baby with separation anxiety, this can be really rough emotionally for both baby and mom. Our home is small, so I don’t have a dedicated office. That means that though I can close the door, my caregiver and older son need to come in from time to time to get things. It’s disruptive and can be hard to focus. My baby is now a toddler and knows where I am. So he will come and “visit” several times throughout the day. If I keep the door closed and won’t open it, he’ll cry desperately for me. Not fun. If I open the door, then I get interrupted and have to do another separation shortly thereafter. If I need to use the bathroom or kitchen, my toddler sees me and what would ordinarily be a quick trip turns into a 15-20 minute interaction. Don’t get me wrong: I love getting to see my baby throughout the day, but it’s not always easy. If I need to focus for long stretches (for writing, e.g.), I make sure to work away from the house.

    My extra two cents:

    Pumping troubleshooting:
    * Make sure to learn to pump *before* your baby starts daycare. It takes practice. You’ll want a freezer stash for (1) when you first go back in case you don’t pump enough to keep up with what your baby eats; (2) when your baby’s consumption goes up and your production hasn’t yet increased to match it; (3) when you get sick with the flu and your production goes way down; and (4) for times when you might be unexpectedly gone for a short time. Starting to build the freezer stash before you need to be away from your baby is also a good way to learn to pump.

    * If you’re having trouble letting down (or pumping enough milk), then get away from your computer and any other work you have. You’ll need to relax, so do that however works best for you — meditation, breathing, etc. Many moms find it useful to have a picture or clothing item of their baby when pumping. Visualizing your baby can really help.

    * If you don’t have a place to pump: demand one. If you’re an employee in some way (TA, postdoc, faculty), your university must provide you with a private and clean (=not a bathroom) place to pump. Even if you’re not, someone in power will help you to make sure you’re accommodated if you start asking around. (You’re not the only one!)

    * Remember that this doesn’t last forever! Even if you plan to nurse for a long time, you can typically give up daily pumping around one year of age, when most babies get the green light to consume cow milk at daycare.

    Bottlefeeding troubleshooting:
    * Introduce your baby to a bottle early, and then keep at it once every few days at least.

    * If your baby won’t take a bottle (or suddenly stops), things to try:
    – babies frequently won’t take bottles from mom, so let dad or another adult feed the bottle
    – some babies won’t take a bottle if mom is even around, so get mom outside and out of sight/sound/smell of baby
    – try holding the baby in a different position
    – make sure you have the right size/age nipple (my first baby suddenly refused bottles one day and it took us a while to figure it out — we were using the same nipples as when he was just a couple months old. As babies get older, they can drink more and want larger nipple holes. My baby had just been mad at how slow the milk was coming out. We moved up to larger-holed nipples and he took right to the bottle again.)
    – try different nipple shapes
    – try making the milk a little warmer or cooler (remember that fresh-from-the-source milk is 98.6 F)
    – try refrigerated-only milk and frozen-thawed milk — one or the other might be more palatable
    – for older babies who have started solids, add some pureed fruit like banana or strawberry for flavor. (This was the only way my second baby would drink my pumped milk. We called him “gourmet baby” since he only liked from-the-tap milk or these fancy fruit smoothies.)
    – if all else fails, consult a lactation consultant, your pediatrician, and/or a local LLL leader

    * Judging how much to put in bottles can be hard. Make sure there is good communication with the daycare staff to find out how much the baby is actually eating and when. Like with all things baby, you will figure out a routine that allows you to pump the right amount of milk.

    • Thank you so much for this comment! This is really great.

      Your comment on letting down made me remember that, when I had my first, I’d read that it could help with pumping if you have an association between something and nursing. So, I played Enya every time I nursed for a while, thinking I could play it while pumping and have relaxing music that I associated with nursing. Except that, when it came time to pump, the song I would get stuck in my head every time was “Jungle Boogie”, with my brain changing “get down, get down” to “let down, let down”. Sometimes my brain is a strange place to be.😛

  3. If you are at a University, and they do have official rooms for pumping, it’s helpful to know the brand of pump so you can get compatible attachments, as well as the same brand pump for home.

  4. This is all great advice! However, I had a somewhat “non-textbook” pumping experience, and I wanted to add it to the comments here for others who might find themselves in the same situation. I will also add the disclaimer that I’ve only had one baby, and I only pumped (week)daily for her between the ages of 6-12 months old, after which I switched to cow’s milk at daycare and only nursed outside of working hours. Prior to 6 months, I brought her in to campus with me and/or worked from home and did a combination of full-time nursing and minimal pumping (once per day, maybe 2-3 times per week).

    I never responded well to pumping. There was always a very large difference between how many ounces I could pump and how many ounces my baby would get in a single nursing session (I did a lot of pre- vs. post-feed weighing). Nursing, she could consistently get 6-8 ounces at a time, while with pumping I could never get more than 3-4 in a session (and that’s both sides combined). Also, to even get that much, I absolutely could NOT be doing anything else while pumping – I literally had to sit with my eyes closed with zero distractions or no milk would come out. Also, no hands-free for me – I had to do some pretty serious hand compression during the whole pumping session or I’d be stuck with more like 2 ounces. It also took a long time, 30 minutes per session, which is longer than average. Again, this wasn’t an issue of low milk production, because I made a ton, it was an issue of just not responding well to the pump. I spent a lot of time experimenting with different flange sizes, valve covers, pumps, pumping schedules, everything I (and my lactation consultant) could think of, but it turns out that I simply don’t pump well.

    But most importantly, I’m not alone. While not “typical,” it’s a reasonably common problem. Pumps are not babies, and they don’t work as well for some people. I started pumping early (first session at 5 days old), maintained a freezer stash, and otherwise did everything I could to be a great pumper – but it wasn’t as easy for me as for other people, and if you find yourself in the same situation, don’t lose hope!

    I spent a lot of time very frustrated that everyone else seemed to get gobs of milk while writing manuscripts (!!!), whereas I had to work a lot harder at it and was always struggling to meet daycare milk demand. Here’s what helped:

    1) Changing my perspective: I tried to spend more time valuing the milk I’d already given her than worrying about what I could pump for her tomorrow. Worked wonders!
    2) Trying lots of variations until I found what worked best: “best” wasn’t as much as I ever wanted it to be, but I felt happy to be getting more than before.
    3) Practicing! Like most skills, practice made me better at it. If you’re awesome at pumping from day #1, great, but if not, feel confident that you will get better at it over time.
    4) Like Meg, I nursed as close to daycare drop-off and pick-up as I possibly could to offset how much milk they needed there.
    5) (And this will be the most unpopular option, but it did make me feel way more relaxed about things) I didn’t rush to night wean. My daughter definitely reverse-cycled and nursed a lot at night, which wasn’t good for my sleep, but was good for my psyche. I say don’t feel guilty about whatever sort of hack works for YOU, even if no one else you know is doing it!

    Also, I used many of Meg’s other tricks that she described here – but one that I added was to wipe down pump parts with pacifier wipes before refrigerating them between sessions. Less milk drippage in the secondary containment device! Other than that, I did 3 sessions per day, the goal was always 3 4-ounce bottles (my average was around 11oz, usually 4-4-3, so less in the afternoon), and I had to bring six bottles to work every day and then consolidate the milk into three bottles (one per session). I never supplemented with formula, but I would have if she hadn’t nursed at night (or if she hadn’t remained a super chunky baby, which she did). I never tried this, but after I weaned, someone told me that smearing olive oil on the inside of the flanges helped her increase pumping efficiency and made it more comfortable, too. Sounds messy, but she said it worked for her. I definitely had two pumps and was VERY happy about that. Besides Meg’s reasoning, I found it super convenient when my little angel decided to stage nursing strikes on weekends, or right before I went to bed, so that I could easily keep myself comfortable without worrying about my pump being left at work. Along the same lines, I *always* kept a spare set of pump parts (and some of those milk bags+adapters) at work for the spacey mornings I sometimes forgot to throw them in my bag.

    Also, my office door doesn’t lock from the inside so I pushed a chair against it – I only had a couple close calls, but in hindsight, I should have requested a work order for a new doorknob/lock. Don’t be afraid to ask for such things!

    • Thanks for this comment! It’s very important for moms to realize that pumps don’t work as well as babies. I was lucky with #1 in that he was a voracious feeder, so I only ever nursed him one side at a time. At work, I pumped BOTH sides to get the equivalent to what he would normally get from one side. And like you, he also kept his night feeding for more than a year. With #2, I can definitely tell that I pump less than he eats (he normally feeds on both sides), but since he won’t take my expressed breast milk, I don’t worry about amounts.

      I’ll add that another way to reduce stress of amount pumped for older babies (>6 months) is to consult with your physician and see if water and solids can supplement the milk you pump. So you don’t have to worry about hitting a ‘quota’ every day.

  5. First of all, thanks for the tip on getting a free pump through insurance. I did not know!! And now I’m working on getting mine. I have one from my first baby, so I’ll be able to have a second at work. Hurray!

    I have a shared office with cubicle walls, and I asked my office mates if they minded if I pump in here. They (a man and a woman, both parents) were both fine with it. I also did this as a grad student with two different shared grad student offices (2-3 other students in the room, both men and women, mostly non-parents). Pumping in my office is so much more convenient than going somewhere else. I lock the door and put up a sign that says I’ll be available at such-and-such time. For 2 of my pumping sessions a week, I go to another room while my office mates have office hours. This other room isn’t ideal, but it does have a lock on the door and a countertop for all my pumping stuff.

    I wash my pump stuff quickly after each session. I have a metal bowl at work and a little bag that I use to carry the pumping supplies to the bathroom or the sink in the main office. I put a little soap and hot water in the bowl with my rinsed supplies, swirl it around, and then rinse everything. I didn’t do this with baby #1. I only rinsed between sessions (no soap) or just wiped down the parts and washed at the end of the day. With the Medela pump supplies, I would get mold in the part between the flange and the bottle. So I had to buy this part 2-3 times. I’m hoping to avoid that this time with the soap washings.

    I think with the second baby I feel a little less anxious about people knowing that I’m pumping or washing my pumping stuff. I’m doing good things for my baby. It helps to have supportive (or oblivious) colleagues.

    At daycare, I send 3 four-ounce bottles for my 3 month old (15lbs). He seems to sleep better at daycare with fewer bigger bottles rather than more smaller bottles. The first few weeks I sent formula as a backup, but he hasn’t needed it.

    I find having a schedule at work helps with milk production and remembering to pump. Sometimes I get sucked into work and don’t realize what time it is. But if I pump at the same time every day, it helps with milk production and let down, and I remember to do it. I do 9am (right after drop off), 12:30, and 3:30. Then I’m ready to nurse him after the 5pm pick up. Sometimes meetings shift these times up or down by 30 min. I try to stay close to the schedule because otherwise I might not get enough milk with 2 sessions too close together. I actually tend to get more milk at the later pumping sessions because in the morning at 9, it’s right after I just fed him. I tend to have an oversupply, so I have to make sure I don’t pump too long (get sucked into work while I’m pumping) because then I really suffer on the weekends when my son doesn’t need to nurse as much as I’ve been pumping.

    Good luck with your pumping. You’re not alone!

  6. One suggestion that I don’t think I’ve seen mentioned: Buy a mini fridge and keep it in your office. Or convince your HR department to buy you one. Saves a lot of awkward conversations, panics when the entire break room fridge is stuffed with leftover sheet cake, and means one less trip down the hall.

  7. I’ll chime in as a post-doc who has been meeting up with my baby to nurse. We’ve had several circumstances that helped make this possible: (1) we live in Finland, and I was able to take 6 months of maternity leave followed by my spouse taking 3 months of parental leave (thank you, Finnish social insurance institution!), (2) our apartment is 300 meters from the biology building, (3) our baby seems to have little-to-no separation anxiety (enabling short nursing visits with no fuss when baby and I part ways).

    The details:

    For the first 6 months, I was on maternity leave at home, but worked whenever possible (and frequently brought the baby to meetings or seminars, where she napped in her pram). The next 3 months my husband took parental leave from his post-doc. His parental leave period coincided with my summer field season, which was something we had taken into consideration before getting pregnant (we were fortunate that biology cooperated with our plans). This meant he and the baby could go to the field with me, and also to a summer conference (ESA — where we had a hard time meeting up to nurse due to strict badge-checking at the convention center. My husband and hungry baby were turned away at the door multiple times.). On a typical day during those 3 months (i.e., when we were not in the field or travelling), I would nurse the baby immediately before I left to work around 8:45am (like I said, we live 300 m from my office, so basically no commute). Then either I would run home for lunch and a nursing session, or my husband would bring the baby (and lunch for me!) to the biology building, or we would meet at an on-campus cafe. This is Finland, and it is totally socially acceptable to breastfeed anywhere. I am personally comfortable nursing in the breakroom where my colleagues are eating or drinking coffee and chatting. My colleagues always seem delighted to see the baby (like I said, we nurse in the breakroom. So if anyone is distracted by the presence of a baby, they can always go back to their office. I share an office with 3 other post-docs, so nursing there would certainly be distracting to them.). Then my husband would bring the baby to me again around 3pm, which coincided with an official coffee break in the breakroom. My husband was also grateful for the adult conversations with my colleagues at that time. Then the next nursing session would be when I got home from work (around 6pm typically).

    I want to emphasize that my baby didn’t seem to mind parting ways with me and returning home (or continuing on an outing to the store or somewhere else) with her dad. If she had gotten upset at every departure, our nursing meet-ups might have been much more time consuming and/or emotionally exhausting for all.

    I also note that around 8 months, our baby started getting really distracted while nursing. She went from being able to tune out the world for milk, to popping up at the slightest sound. So we shifted the nursing schedule slightly so that it didn’t overlap with when there were lots of people in the breakroom. And sometimes she was still too distracted to drink much.

    At 6 months we were advised to start introducing solid food. Conveniently, this was when my husband took over as stay-at-home parent. It gave him a role in the feeding process (since we haven’t been bottle-feeding), and also bought me a little more time at work (i.e., he could start feeding her when she got hungry, then text me when she was “done”…usually after several minutes trying to convince her to take just a couple bites…and we would then meet up to nurse).

    Now my husband and I are both working and the 9-month-old baby is in a daycare 5 minutes from my office by bike. This is our first week of daycare, so we haven’t totally settled into our new routine yet. The baby is eating some solid food at daycare, and I am biking over to nurse her at the end of their lunchtime. We are fortunate to have some close friends staying at our house for this entire month. They are dropping the baby off at daycare in the morning and picking her up around 3-4pm and bringing her to my workplace to nurse.

    Obviously, we got really lucky with a lot of these circumstances, and I’m not sure how much they’ll apply to anyone else.

    • Thanks for your perspective on making it all work!

      Does that mean it was the Baltimore ESA that your husband and baby had trouble getting into? That’s awful. I’m hoping to help make sure there are proper nursing mothers rooms at future ESA’s — for pumping, as well as nursing distractable babies. I’ll add “make sure babies and their caregivers can get into the center!” as related issue.

      • Yep, it was at this year’s ESA. They were really vigorous about checking badges to get into the convention center (which I’ve experienced at previous meetings, too). I’ve raised the issue in the past and plan on raising it again.

      • I heard back from ESA who says that, at present, people in this situation should use the “guest” registration option. That was $45 this year. When I asked about Evolution at Snowbird, they said family members didn’t need a “guest” registration to bring a baby to a nursing mom, which was good because the guest registration was a lot more. So, one thing that would help would be to have the policies clearer about what is (or is not) needed to get a nursling to a mom who is attending a meeting.

      • What is needed is a policy that doesn’t force parents to pay extra-extra to have their baby brought to them at the conference. Bringing a baby to a conference is expensive enough! ESA needs a more forward-looking policy — either an exemption or a separate category. (Would they charge the $45 “guest fee” for someone to bring a sign-language interpreter? I think not. At least, they shouldn’t!)

      • (Also, weird about the badge thing… I was there for 4 days, went to and fro a lot (went back to my hotel to pump midday each day), and only ever got asked for my badge when I wanted to get in at 9pm. Seems really inconsistent — maybe it depends on what door you used?)

  8. I think it’s really important to note that one of the major concrete things an advisor can do to support a grad student or postdoc that just had a baby is to provide an office space where she can pump at her desk. Of course this is not always possible, but it makes such a huge difference when it is. I think many well-meaning advisors and department chairs don’t realize this. It should be trumpeted. Lactation rooms are acceptable, but not efficient. At least that was my experience.

  9. Pingback: Recommended reads #59 | Small Pond Science

  10. My (recent) experience on pumping as graduate student:

    Just echoing previous advise here, but the two most important things you can do BEFORE you go back to work are (1) build up a freezer stash and (2) introduce a bottle. I built up my freezer stash on maternity leave by pumping after nursing and pumping on one side while nursing on the other (especially early AM feeds). Tandem pumping and nursing can be a little awkward at first, but you get the hang of it after a few days. This helped me freeze up to 10 oz. a day in addition to nursing. I never had much luck getting my son to take a bottle while I was still nursing, but he did very well when my husband fed him. My son started daycare when he was 3 months old, and we started using a bottle a few times a week when he was 2 months old. We tried several different bottles before settling on Comotomo (expensive, but high quality and easy to clean). The flow rate of the “newborn” nipples on the other bottles we tried was way too fast and he ended up wasting a lot of milk.

    I was fortunate enough to have a dedicated lactation room on campus, one building over from my office, that I shared with 3 other colleagues. I fashioned my own “hands-free” pumping bra by measuring and cutting holes in an older bra. This worked really well for me and helped me to relax a bit more during my pumping sessions. I had to purchase my own pump and could only afford one, so I invested in a high-quality pump that was essentially built into a tote bag. Not that it really matters, but the bag was plain black and very discrete with plenty of room to store pump parts, extra bottles, milk storage bags, etc. [Sidebar: I really recommend trying different flange sizes to make sure you get the best fit. An ill-fitting flange can be painful and decrease the amount of milk you’re able to express during pumping.] My pumping sessions were a little long (30 minutes), but I learned how to get a second let-down with the pump which ultimately got me more milk (I did this by pumping for 10 minutes or until milk stopped flowing, stopping the pump for 5 minutes, then pumping for an additional 10-15 minutes). I pumped 3x per work day, usually as soon as I got to work, before lunch, and mid-afternoon, and usually got 10-12 oz. Beware that your supply will decrease if you get sick (I had a sinus infection) and some OTC medications can exacerbate that effect. I would quickly rinse my pump parts in warm water, then store in a gallon ziploc until my next pump. Everything would get thoroughly washed at home each night, and I would sanitize (boil for 10-15 minutes) all of the parts every weekend. I stored bottles of milk in a communal mini-fridge in our lab conference room. Washing and re-packing my pump bag as well as preparing bottles for daycare each evening really helped to streamline my mornings (wake up, nurse, get dressed, daycare, work).

  11. Pingback: Pumping sucks – let’s make it better | Tenure, She Wrote

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