Thursday, November 1, 2007

Pumping Life

Sometimes pumping (expressing breast milk for my baby using a Medela Pump in Style electric breast milk pump) is not a big deal. Sometime I feel I'm not so much working, as marking time between pumping sessions! I pump every 3 hours that I am away from my baby which in practice means than on a full day at work I pump at 11am and 2pm (feeding her at 8am and 5pm -- right when I pick her up), and when I work half days from home I pump just once at work. Each session takes 10-20 mins of actual pumping time, plus set up and clean up at the end. All in all I think it takes 30-40 mins.

Sometimes (like today) pumping goes very well. Today I brought my laptop to work and was able to watch movies of my baby being cute while I pumped. That really helps - I pumped much more milk than I usually do! Other times (like the rest of this week so far) it's a real struggle. The computer system at the lab has seen fit to block sites. I usually look at pictures we post on our "Baby Blog" while pumping - but when that is blocked I cannot do that (and get reminded how annoyed I am that the site is blocked in the first place). For whatever reason we have a full house at work this week too - so while I am usually able to pump either in my office or the office of a work colleague who is also a nursing mother this week both of our (male) office mates are in town, so yesterday I had to resort to pumping in the bathroom for the first time. It takes extra time to set up and find somewhere to pump - and I'm also not as comfortable so I get less milk. Also at the beginning of the week I attended a short meeting. This was held at my usual work place, but I had to fit pumping into the 30 minute coffee breaks - which caused me to spend much more time watching the clock (and of course I produced less milk). I also had no time to network during the breaks - which in some ways is the most important part of these meetings, so I wonder if there was actually any point in going in the first place! I suppose the solution is to pump during the talks - but they all just looked so interesting.

When I first started pumping at work I joined an online dicussion of working/pumping mothers with babies about the age of mine. This seemed like a great idea - until it totally stressed me out to read yet another post about how the mother pumped X ounces and baby drinks X + Y ounces at daycare so they're so worried about this and how can they improve their production. Stressing out about this - for me - causes me to produce less and less milk, so I stopped reading. Somehow I seem to pump almost exactly the right amount if I don't worry about it.

I suppose pumping is a short duration problem in the life of a working mother. At 8 months my baby still really benefits from the breast milk I produce for her - in fact the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk be the primary source of nutrition for the first year of a childs life, and that breast feeding continue for "as long as mutually desirable for the mother and child". So I don't regret the time it takes to pump milk for my baby - often it's the most useful thing I do all day. I just wish it was a bit easier sometimes!