Pumping at work: Equipment & tips
As of publishing this post, I have been breastfeeding my son for exactly 1 year, 6 months, and 16 days…which means I have been pumping at work for more than a year now.
Breastfeeding, especially when you’re a working mom, is not that easy. So in the hopes of helping other moms, here are my breastfeeding essentials that helped me deliver the best milk to my little boy:
Medela Harmony Manual breast pump. Medela is one of the known brands when it comes to breast pumps. At first I thought it was just a brand thing, so I was not very particular with my pump at first. I initially had a My First Years manual breast pump, but the suction was not strong enough that I barely had any stash. I am so happy that we bought this, I consider it the BEST investment in my nursing mom career. We bought this pump at Mothercare Glorietta for Php 3,300.
This pump is a great fit for my schedule as it’s easy to assemble and disassemble. It is portable, which means I can really pump anywhere (even without a socket). Also, the letdowns are faster (compared to my first pump) so I can finish each session in lesser time. Even if I am using a manual pump, I can actually finish each pumping session for 10 – 15 minutes.
The parts are pretty sturdy, except for the membrane (the white spherical rubber). I tore mine twice while I was dismantling my pump – but don’t you worry, they have spares available at either Rustan’s Department Store or Mothercare.
Medela products can be bought at the Medela House at Quezon City. These are also available at Mothercare and Rustan’s. You may also avail other breastpumps at Babymama, which is known as the cheapest online source for electric pumps.
Mom & Baby milk bottles. I say this with conviction: it is more practical to use storage bottles rather then milk bags if the milk would be consumed in the next 3 days. As milk bags are not reusable, they tend to be more expensive in the long run if they are only to be used for a short duration. It is also easier to pour in milk coming from a bottle than a non-sturdy plastic bag. My son has been cupfeeding since I started working, so the ease of pouring is a big factor for us.
My strategy: To ensure that my son gets the most nutrients, I give him the freshest milk available (most recently pumped). At the end of the day, whatever that is left unconsumed would be transferred to milk storage bags, which are placed in the freezer for our stash (see milk shelf life below).
Mom and Baby milk bottles are available at Baby Company at SM stores for Php 200 for 4 bottles. This is the cheapest set that I have seen, as the next brand (Looney Tunes) sells for Php 220.
The same brand (Mom and Baby) also carries the cheapest milk bags in the market at Php 250 for 25 pieces. I heard comments that their milk bags are thinner, but I have been using it for more than a year now and I have not encountered any issues with it.
Philips Avent Comfort Breast Shell Set. I bought this at Baby Company , SM Makati for Php 950 for 2 sets (2 pairs per set). The one in the picture is used to collect excess milk (remember the uncontrollable letdowns? There’s a tool to catch that!). The other set (ventilated) is used for protecting sore nipples to keep it from rubbing on your clothes. This is actually optional, as you can always opt to catch excess milk with a spare bottle…or not. If you’re using a double electric pump, then there is no need for this.
My strategy: Since I have regulated my supply prior to returning to work, my only challenge would be the letdowns during the pumping sessions itself. To prevent my breast pads from soaking, I use one of the collection shells on one side while I pump the other. I only bring 1 of the collection shells with me as I obviously need only one. I haven’t used the ventilated ones to date as I haven’t suffered from sore nipples ever since we have corrected my son’s latch.
Other brands that offer similar products are Dr. Brown’s and Milkies. Dr. Brown’s breast shells are available at Baby Company at SM stores for Php 700, while Milkies Milk Saver can be bought from Babymama online at Php 1,350.
Plastic container. Any container would do, but it would be great if it would be airtight for hygienic purposes. I put all of my pump parts and breast shells in this container. If you have a refrigerator in your workplace, you can opt not to sterilize your pump parts after every use by putting them in a sealed container and refrigerating them – the cold temperature should prevent the milk from spoiling. Make sure though to sterilize everything when you get home.
A ziplock would work fine as well, but I prefer plastic containers as it is reusable and more durable.
Insulated bag. I got this particular bag for free back in 2014 at Baby Company. Any insulated bag would do, as long as they keep the temperature cool while you are in transit.
Ice packs. To make sure that the milk doesn’t spoil in your transit, pack them beside your ice substitutes. This is me – packed and ready to go!
The blue Coleman chillers (ice substitute) were bought at Duty Free, so I’m not sure how it costs. Babymama also offers similar products: Reusable Gel ice pack for only Php 25 and an Antibacterial Reusable Nano Silver Gel ice pack for only Php 50.
Breast milk shelf life
*To prolong its shelf life, do not mix pumped milk with different temperatures. Make sure they are both at the same temperature if you are planning to mix them.
*If the milk will be consumed within the next 3 days, it is better to place it in the refrigerator so you would not need to thaw. This would have a shelf life of 5 -7 days (depending on the temperature of your refrigerator).
*Pumped milk placed in the freezer, then thawed in a refrigerator only has a shelf life of 24 hours.
*Milk placed in the freezer can last for 2 weeks in a 1-door refrigerator, and 3-6 months in a refrigerator with a different freezer door.
– If you are away from your baby, pump every 2-3 hours to maintain your supply.
– Relax to encourage letdown. I usually browse my son’s pictures and videos when pumping. Also, stop watching the bottle. Less watching means less worries. Less worries means more output.
– Do not wear tight clothing that may inhibit milk flow
– Surround yourself with a strong support group. Educate your friends and family members and align them with your goals in breastfeeding your child.
Breastfeeding is not always a walk in the park, but with the right knowledge, equipment, and support, I was able to make it this far…and I’m not stopping anytime soon, unless my son wants to.
Do you have other breastfeeding tips that you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments.
Enjoy life. Cheers!