Pumping Profiles - Meet Rachel from Manhattan (Kansas, that is!)

Published on
Written by Courtney Uyeshiro

{Milk It’s Pumping Profiles feature quick Q&A interviews with moms that are pumping milk for their babies while they work. We hope you enjoy meeting these moms and learning a few tips on how they make it all work! These multi-tasking moms are inspiration for us all and are part of the much needed support for moms and the milk they make!}

Rachel, a Breastfeeding and Pumping Mom in Kansas, with Her 8 Month Old Baby Boy (6 mos old in the photo)

{Q}  What do you do for work?  Tell us about yourself.
{A}  I was the Guest Service Team Leader (like a supervisor) at the local Target. I was working evenings from 6 pm-11:30ish pm Monday-Friday, and every other weekend working full shifts; so, I would work 12 days in a row with 2 days off. We’re currently in Kansas as my husband’s stationed at Ft. Riley. On a non-pumping note, I run, practice yoga, and we’re vegans.

{Q}  When did you return to work?
{A}  Our son, Leonel, was 7 weeks old when I returned to work.

{Q}  What is your pumping situation at work (i.e. where do you pump, are your coworkers supportive, etc.)? 
{A}  When I discussed it with my HR before coming back from maternity leave, they said I would be able to pump in any of the Executive Team Leader’s (managers) offices. Since I was working 5.5 hour shifts, I was allotted one 15 minute break, during which I was on “mommy duty.” It did often take about 20 minutes from start to finish, between setting up, pumping, and clean-up, but after a couple of days I got into a groove—had all the parts assembled in the bag, put them in the fridge when done and washed when I got home—and could complete my ‘routine’ in 15 minutes flat. Most nights, though, there was no rush.

As for my co-workers, they were not unsupportive. A coworker had pumped a few years ago for her daughter, so on occasion we’d chat about taking over the family freezer with The Stash; a few of my male coworker’s wives had pumped so there was no ‘trouble’ to be had from them; the Store Team Lead (store manager) made a comment once that, “You can take as many breaks as you need to, we don’t want anyone to starve.” No one ever gave me a hard time (and a great handful of people didn’t even know I was pumping at all!). I was very fortunate. {How great to hear!  Supportive coworkers make a huge difference! - Milk It}

On my weekend 8 hour shifts, I would pump during all three of my breaks—two 15 min and one 30 min.

{Q}  How long have you been pumping/working and how long to you hope to continue?
{A}  I worked from the time my son was 7 weeks until he was 7.5 months. My last day of work was on Thanksgiving; I’ll be moving back home with our son while my husband’s deployed. I do not have plans to return to work at that time. I am planning on pumping in order to donate milk, though; I trained myself to respond really well to the pump and I’d like to use that to help other mothers feed their babies human milk. {Go Mommy Go - you are an inspiration, Rachel!  Keep up the good work and enjoy the time at home with your son! - Milk It}

{Q}  1st baby or 10th? ;)
{A}  First.

{Q}  # of times you pump/how long each day:
{A}  On my 6 hour shifts, I’d pump once at work with my Avent Isis iQ Duo for approximately 10 min, then when I got home and cleaned those parts out I’d use my EvenFlo Manual for about 5 min/side.
On my 8 hour shifts, I’d use my manual on my two 15 minute breaks, and my Isis on my lunch for about 15-20 minutes.

{Q} Nursing baby at home too?
{A}   Yes!

{Q} How are you making it all work at home and at work – any tips for working/pumping moms?
{A}   I learned to let some things go. Clean clothes are a must…but they don’t have to be hung up or folded. We can take clean dishes right out of the dish machine, and it’s fine if some sit in the sink until the machine’s clear. And in all honesty, bedsharing is what made me not lose my mind. I’d be in bed anywhere between 12:30-1 am, and DS would wake up at 7; he still nurses about every 1.5-2 hours. Being able to only slightly wake up to latch him when he requests, then fall right back asleep, was just necessary in order to function during the day. If I had to physically get up that often, I’d be no good to anyone. (I of course suggest safe sleep practices; Dr. McKenna is a great resource http://cosleeping.nd.edu/)

As per pumping specifically, each mother is different! I had heard to just forget about the pump. Well, that resulted in not a drop of milk for me. I had to consciously relax: Deep breaths, relaxing shoulders, look at photos of DS, think about flowing milk. If I did that, I’d get a letdown, and then I’d be able to ‘forget’ about the pump (although I still did some massage and compressions to get as ‘empty’ as possible). Some mothers work while pumping; I did best by browsing the web on my phone. Pumping really helped me to feel and stay connected to my baby while I was away. {Hooray! - Milk It}

{Q}  Best/Worst or most challenging thing about pumping?
{A}  The worst part was being walked in on! {So happy the Milk It doorhanger helped! - Milk It}

The most challenging part was adjusting to not being able to bond with my coworkers over our breaks and lunches. Particularly when I first came back from ML and everyone wanted to catch up!

The best thing about pumping was being able to be with my son even when I wasn’t. Also, it forced me to sit down and take a break.

{Q}  Favorite Milk It Kit item?
{A}  Definitely the doorknob sign!