Support for Moms and the Milk They Make!

Dear Pumping Moms - You are not in this alone!  Breastfeeding and pumping milk have their challenges and I believe you can better deal with these challenges by relying on the support of other moms and their experiences.  Here I have shared some tips and some websites that I have found helpful.  Please comment to this post with additional tips or suggestions of other great resources for moms and the milk they make!  I will be sure to update this section with your suggestions.

Happy Pumping! - Courtney (milk it Founder)

Milk It's Tips for Back to Work and Pumping Survival:

1) What's In Your {Pump} Bag? (Printable "Checklist and Tips for Back to Work Pumping Survival")
  • Pump! 
  • Tubing
  • Pump Charger/auto charger/battery pack with batteries
  • 2 sets pumping accessories (flanges, attachments, membranes)
  • Door Privacy Sign (Milk It Kit), {breast} Milk Labels, pen or fine-tip permanent marker
  • Milk storage bags or milk storage/baby bottles (2 times the # of pumping breaks)
  • Burp cloth/towel or paper towels
  • Medela Quick Clean Wipes (optional)
  • Milk Cooler for storing and/or transport of breast milk
  • Frozen Ice Packs
  • Ziplock bags or Medela Steam Clean Bags
  • Hands-free pumping bra (optional but handy for a multi-tasking mom!)
  • Snacks and water
  • Photo of Baby or Phone with photos/videos of baby

2) Some Tips for Pumping & Working Success (or Why You Need All That Stuff):
  • Keep an extra set of all pumping accessories in your office or work place and only use them in an emergency!  {Don't let this be you: You've raced through a meeting and before you can jet off to your next, you need to pump.  You've pushed it and are actually in pain.  You take out your pump bag, plug in your pump, start to assemble your pumping accessories and all of a sudden your stomach jumps as you realize you are missing those teeny tiny "membranes" that are so crucial to pumping success. Next thing you know you are bumping up your meeting and mapping the distance to the nearest Babies R Us. ARGH!}
  • If possible, assemble all pumping parts in the morning (or night before) so they are set to go for pumping time.
  • Keep some Ziplock plastic bags in your pump bag in case you don't have time to clean and sterilize your pump parts - just put them in the bag to be washed appropriately when you get home.  If you have access to a refrigerator, you can keep your pump parts in a Ziplock in the fridge and use them again for your second (or third) session of the day.  
  • Also helpful is the Medela steam clean bags - if you have access to a microwave you can steam clean your pump parts there but if you don't have access to a microwave and you need to be time-efficient, put the parts in the steam clean bag and clean/steam all when you get home.
  • If you are going to pump several times during your work day, and will not have access to a sink with soap to clean your pump parts, bring several sets of pump parts with you for the day.
  • Make sure you have enough milk storage bags or milk collection containers to collect your milk for that day.  Keep in mind you will be pumping both breasts so you will need 2 bags or collection containers every time you pump.  Milk from that day can be combined before being stored (see milk collection/storage guidelines - kellymom).  I often used to pump with a breast milk storage bag on one side and a breast milk storage bottle on the other ... then pour the bottle into the storage bag and seal her up!
  • A small dishcloth or some paper towels can come in handy to catch those pesky drips when you are removing your pumping accessories.
  • A hands-free pump bra can be a life-saver.  I never had the luxury of knowing about this when pumping, but I was able to prop my pumping accessories in my nursing bras so that it was close to the same idea. Hands are now free to read over any recent emails you have just received.  It's amazing how skilled at multi-tasking you will become!
  • If you won't have access to a fridge, you'll need a cooler and several ice packs to keep your milk cool.  Whenever you have access to a fridge/freezer put the ice packs in the freezer to keep them frozen and they will keep your milk cool for the commute home.
  • Slide a picture of your baby into your Milk It Kit collection or keep one on your phone so you have some way of looking at your little one while pumping.

    Additional Tips for Traveling Moms:
    • When traveling, it is not an easy task to pump your milk while away and bring it back home while keeping it cool.  However, it really can pay off to do this!  While you are away, your baby is drinking up your fine milk reserves and it is quite rewarding to place a whole slew of newly pumped milk into the freezer and add to the number of days your baby will be able to benefit from your breastmilk.
    • When you stay at a hotel ask the concierge if you can store milk in a regular refrigerator instead of your mini-fridge.  Ask if your ice packs can go in their freezer because a mini-fridge might not keep them totally frozen.  All that being said, might be a good idea to LABEL your milk! :)
    • Make sure you have a good milk cooler that can contain all of your pumped milk.  Milk storage bags are probably easiest to pack into a cooler as you can squeeze out excess air to help them fit.  Ensure your milk storage bags are tightly sealed as they will be tossed around a bit more through security, etc.  Placing several milk storage bags inside a Ziplock can help contain any potential spills.  Don't forget to LABEL your cooler! :)  Our "This Way Up" sticker was designed to let others know to keep your milk upright!
    • Your pump bag (especially when headed home with a cooler full of milk!) is precious cargo.  Don't forget to use your Milk It "Pump Bag Tag" to put your contact information on the bag.  Just the thought of misplacing a pump bag and a cooler full of milk makes my stomach jump!

      Extremely Helpful Sites about Breastfeeding, Pumping and Pumping While Working:

      Kelly Mom - An evidence-based information site on breastfeeding and parenting, authored by a mom of three, IBCLC

      Kellymom - Pumping and Employment 

      Exclusively Pumping - A Resource Site for Exclusively Pumping Moms

      Excerpt from the site: The reasons women exclusively pump are extremely varied: the premature birth of a baby; the illness of the baby or the mother; problems with breastfeeding including such things as a poor latch, thrush, cleft palate, poor weight gain, a lack of milk (either real or perceived), and the early introduction of a bottle leading to nipple preference; and the separation of mother and baby including women who must return to work soon after the birth of their babies.

      Author, Stephanie Casemore, has also written this book: Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk: A Guide to Providing Expressed Breast Milk for Your Baby

      NICU Central -  A great resource for all things NICU.  Created by a NICU nurse.

      Balancing Breast and Bottle - A great resource to help you select and introduce the best bottle for your breastfed baby. 

      Raise Healthy Eaters - While not a breastfeeding/pumping website, author Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD focuses on nutrition for kids age 0-18 yrs and has two great articles about the challenges of breastfeeding:

      What New Moms Really Need to Keep Breastfeeding

      What Nobody Tells Moms-to-be About Breastfeeding (and What They Really Need to Know)

      You Can Breastfeed Here - This is a website where moms can search for convenient locations where they can breastfeed.  Some locations have a mothers' room and others are just breastfeeding-friendly.  Take a look and add a place where you felt welcome to breastfeed ... or pump! 

      Don't Forget About Lactation Consultants:

      Lactation Consultants are a fantastic resource for breastfeeding and pumping issues (i.e. finding the right size flange, the right pump etc.).  A lot of hospitals offer the services of a Lactation Consultant but often you have to ask multiple times to have one come see you.  Please, do yourself a favor and even if you feel that your baby is breastfeeding well from the start or maybe you are embarrassed to ask for help, but please have that LC come see you and your baby in the hospital to see how things are going. 

      LC's work in hospitals, and independently.

      Some independent LC's I have spent time with and gained confidence and knowledge from:

      Berkeley, CA - Janaki Costello, BA, IBCLC, ICCE 

      Boulder, CO - Darcy Kamin, RN, Certified Lactation Consultant 

      Boulder, CO - Stephanie Moore, RN, BSN, IBCLC

      Find a certified LC

      Breastfeeding Support Groups:

      If you can't afford to have a one-on-one with an LC, see if your hospital or a local resource like a prenatal yoga studio or a maternity store offers any breastfeeding support groups.  

      In Boulder, Yo Mama Yoga Studio has an amazing group that meets twice a week, Yo Mama Milk Club.  This is led by Darcy Kamin, RN and CLC, and is free for moms.  It is a great way to speak to an LC, meet other breastfeeding moms and listen to their challenges and triumphs.

      Becoming Mothers offers a free meet up on Mondays at 11 am called Milk (& Cookies) Club where moms can casually meet with Stephanie Moore, IBCLC, and enjoy some lactation cookies!

      La Leche League - Local meetings in your area may be helpful. You might meet other breastfeeding moms and may have the chance to listen and support one another.  Click here to find a LLL meeting near you.

      Finally, if you have one-off questions or don't have the time or money to visit with an LC, it looks like The Bump has a new website dedicated to Breastfeeding and even has Q&A time with Certified Lactation Consultants for members!

      The Bump's 

      BabyCenter also has a message board for Pumping Moms

      Go Mommy Go!

      p.s. To add your site to our list, please contact us.  Please also get in touch if you find any of these resources to be outdated or no longer helpful.

      Sidenote: Milk It is a company founded to support moms and the milk they make.  We at Milk It recognize that not all moms can produce milk and breastfeed.  We would never judge a mom by her ability to produce milk or her choice to breastfeed or to formula-feed.

      Milk It creates Milk It Kit™ - the Back to Work Survival Kit for Breastfeeding Moms. Purchase the Milk It Kit and Refill Milk Labels at  Milk It™ and Milk It Kit™ are trademarks of milk it, LLC © 2012.  All Rights Reserved.