Pumping Party: Tips for Lacating Mamas


Every day I head to work with my mom equivalent of a leather briefcase — My pump bag. AsΒ a working mother who has been so paranoid about not having enough milk to feed my daughter, I get it. I get how stressful it can be. But I’ve successfully breastfed for more than six months and still haven’t had to break into the free can of formula Enfamil sent me when she was born. That’s right, we haven’t had to supplement a drop! And to be honest I’m shocked.

It hasn’t been easy, butΒ I’ve learned a few things as I’ve gone along that may be helpful to others.

About Storing
1. Start early: If you’re going back to work I can’t stress enough how important it was for me to have a stash built up. It doesn’t have to be huge, but just something for emergencies, and to help you feel confidant about going back to work and pumping. I started pumping when my daughter was about three weeks old.

2. Get to know your pump. Another reason to start early is so you can get used to your pump. Get to know how to put it together, take it apart, clean it. And the more you use it, the more your body will get used to how it works and the better it will respond to it. The first few times I pumped I only got a couple of ounces, but I got more and more as time went on.

3. Pump with the baby. If you’re like me and feel like your baby is attached to you 24/7 you may wonder when youΒ can even get the chance to pump. One thing I did was hook up the pump to one side, and pump with her on the other side. Your body naturally responds to your baby nursing so you’ll probably get more milk this way. I do! This was much easier when she was smaller and less wiggly, but I still manage to do this during my lunch breaks with a pumping bra. When I was still on maternity leave I would nurse her from one side all night then pump the other side while she nursed in the morning and I’d get 6-7 ounces from that one side she didn’t eat from all night.

4. Get good storage bags. I’ve used everything from Ziploc bags to storage containers and it makes a big difference when you use storage bags made for storing frozen breastmilk. I used Lansinoh for awhile, but the first time I took one out to defrost I realized there was a leak and I lost about 6oz of milk. So I tried some Simplisse ones and ended up liking those a little more and now I buy those (they’re all the same price).

About Pumps
5. Get an electric. I have two pumps. One double electric breast pump by Avent, and a manual pump by Simplisse. I can’t compare a manual to an electric to each other because it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Actually, they’re not even in the same fruit platter. I’d heard a manual was good to have for emergencies and it did call for an emergency for me to use mine. I was taking a quick trip and couldn’t fit my electric in my bag.

I brought my manual which it’s good I did but boy was I not prepared for the difference.

First off, I didn’t realize manual was so much manual labor. My electric pump has a manual setting on it and you tap your finger and it goes to the speed of your tapping. My manual pump takes more effort.

It goes something like this:

First minute
After five minutes
After 10 minutes
After 15 minutes

Where as with an electric (and hands-free pumping bra) it’s more like this:

Maybe my forearms are just really weak but it was a task. I was wondering why the bottle that came with it was so small but after 10 minutes of trying to pump I realized why–I wouldn’t be able to pump very long.

The positive is it doesn’t tug as much as my electric does, it was more comfortable, but I didn’t get nearly as much milk out as I do with my electric. It saved me from exploding, but it wasn’t the most effective. There are times though, in the middle of the night I consider manually pumping to build my supply back up. I never do it. But I think about it. Simplisse sent me the manual pump to try out, and it’s comfortable, but not for my arms. Good news is, they have a double electric out now so that should solve that problem for anyone considering it.

I have a friend though who only used a manual pump, so some people do it! I think it’s all about getting your body used to whatever pump you’re using, like I mention in #2.

About Pumping at Work
6. Find time. I didn’t think I’d have time to pump once a day, much less twice during my shift at work, but it’s worth it when I do. I don’t have a desk job, so I don’t really have a set schedule for when I can pump, but it’s nice if you can. Your body knows when it’s “meal time” and usually produces more then. I did get into a routine where I was able to pump around 4pm every day and my supply would be larger and larger at that time. If I missed it, and pumped an hour later (or earlier), sometimes it would seem as though my supply was less. I’m not sure why or if maybe I’m just crazy.

Now I pump once in the middle of my shift, and once when I’m leaving and about to go home. By law in most states you’re allowed time to pump so don’t feel bad about it.

7. Find a place to pump with a door that locks. Oh my goodness, I about have a heart attack every singly day when I’m pumping because it never fails someone tries to walk in. Luckily the door is always locked, but I still have a half a second where my mind wonders if I forgot to lock it and this would be the time our traffic guy walks in, startled to see my girls tied up in tubes. It hasn’t happened yet *knock on wood*.

8. Bring pictures of your baby, or a smart phone. I hook up to my pump and call home to talk to Lil’ J, my husband, or play Angry Birds on my iPhone. Sometimes I bring my laptop in and try to do some work but I find I get more milk if I’m more relaxed. Sit back and enjoy the quiet time alone (Cause Lawd knows we don’t get it often).

9. Here’s a trick for storing your pump. I didn’t know this until recently, but if you’re going to pump multiple times while at work, you can put your pump (the horn parts, not the whole machine) in the fridge between sessions so you don’t have to wash it each time. The milk on the pump stays fresh and doesn’t need to be washed off. After I finally remembered to bring a bag to put them in (I didn’t want to set my pump conspicuously next to a coworkers chicken salad) I started doing this and it takes about 5 minutes off each of my pumping sessions.

(I just remembered one more!) 10. Pump for 15 minutes!! If you’re double pumping I mean. I usually want to give up and pack up after 10 minutes but those last five minutes really pay off. I usually can get an extra ounce or two from an extra let down before I go. It’s worth it hanging on just a little longer every session.

Well, those are all of the tips I can think of right now. If you’re looking for something for supply I’d recommend fenugreek, an herb that’s suppose to help with milk production. I use Mother’s Milk Drops by Intelligender. Their prediction test was wrong but these drops sure are right when it comes to helping. I normally get an extra ounce or two after taking (twice the dosage–But don’t do that just cause I do, I’m crazy) of those drops.

Hopefully this can help some working mamas, or perspective pumpers out.

(congrats children teaching mama #36!!)

Every GFC Follower who comments on this post Before the 22nd will be entered to win a pack of goodies from Simplisse including: A Manual Breastfeeding Companion designed by lactation consultants, Essential Lactation Supplements, Disposable Breast Pads, Lanolin-Free Nipple Cream and Breastmilk Storage Bags (ARV $100). You can get an extra entry by thanking Simplisse for this giveaway on their Facebook page.

My friend Jessica is having a huge blog hop for giveaways, all over $50 (many over $100) so if you’re feeling lucky, enter these below. Have fun!

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  1. I have pumped with both babies but I never got a handle on how to store up a stash. Thanks for taking the time to share all these tips! They will be very helpful with the next baby. The pictures of you pumping gave me a giggle πŸ™‚

  2. I love your tips! This is awesome! Especially for those who’ve never done it or don’t think they can! I’d also add that sometimes pumping too early can throw your supply off wack. If you don’t have to go back to work relatively soon, I’d wait for at least 4-6 weeks that way you know your supply is regulated and what not. I waited 8 weeks since I wasn’t going back to work for awhile, but that was a bit too long since I didn’t have any stored up by the time I went in for a few emergency shifts at work. But yes….GREAT TIPS! WOOHOO.

    Isn’t breastfeeding awesome?

  3. I am a GFC follower and I would love to win this prize package! I am due any day now and my baby girl deserves the breast! Ha, get it πŸ™‚ Thanks for the tips as well!

  4. I’m following you via GFC! I’m pregnant with our first child, a girl, and due in May, so this would be the perfect prize to win!
    andreapaetkau at gmail dot com

  5. Thanks so much for youre tips, couldn’t have come at a better time. I was actually going to msg u for advice (you may even want to do a post on this to help new mums out)
    My baby is 3 months old and like yours feeds ALOT and often.
    2-3hrs in day and 3-5 at night. Because baby feeds so much I wasn’t sure where in the schedule to introduce a set pumping time? By the time by breasts fill again, he is ready to eat. We do one side on and one side off. I’d love some advice on pumping BEFORE you went back to work, youre schedule, what worked etc.
    I know youre busy so only if you get a chance I can be found at

    Thanks so much, Amba

  6. Thank you so much for this info! I just returned back to work 3 weeks ago so I’m trying to figure out a routine with everything and it’s VERY hard but this helped out a lot!

  7. Thanks for these tips. Although I work from home and many of these won’t apply in my situation, these tips are great reminders for any BF Mom who may want to have a stash so someone else can feed the baby while you get a nap or run an errand. Thanks Jenn!!!

  8. I love this post! I have been pumping and working for a year, and while I love my pump for what it has helped me to do, I won’t miss lugging it around! I also used my manual pump a lot, because it so quick and there’s nothing to set up, but mine always broke easily. My #1 tip = learn to hand express! Even after a whole year, I still forget my pump parts once in a while! πŸ™

    I’m a follower via GFC

  9. I didn’t know you were part of ABE! So glad your giving away some pumping stuff, I need it! I head back to work today. Luckily, I work at a hospital so we have lactation rooms… but I have to find it! Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. Thank-you so much for the great information! I didn’t know I could put my pump horn in the fridge between pumping and not clean every single time. I would have loved to do that when I pumped in the middle of the night. Next baby I am so getting one of those hands free bras. Awesome invention!!!

    dropcqueen at yahoo dot com

  11. I stay at home nursing my son, but my twin sis will be going back to work in 3 weeks and will be a pumping momma, so I am going to pass this post on to her!

  12. Thanks for this post! I just started back to work two weeks ago and have started getting the hang of things…

    I’m a follower via GFC!
    vonwahlde.1 at gmail.com

  13. lol. jen, your faces crack me up!! lots of great info in here, so I’ll be sure to pass it along to my cousin who’s going to be pumping at work for her baby pretty soon!

  14. I follow via GFC
    I’d love to win! I was due yesterday and am hoping to have a new baby any day now! I realllllly would like to try the Simplisse brand breast pumps!
    ssqueakert at aol dot com

  15. gfc-heatheranya
    my daughter never took a bottle so for 6 months i couldn’t separate from her for more than an hour or so… this next baby will have to take a bottle so i’ll have to be more serious about pumping than i was with the first!
    heatheranya at hotmail dot com

  16. I just discovered I’m pregnant with my third, and man do I understand the breastfeeding issues. Thankyou for the giveaway!

    hopester777 at gmail dot com

  17. Great tips! =) Couldn’t say it better myself! You are doing a fabulous job by the way =)

    Quick question I saw that you recommended Avent Double Pump. Would you say it was very good and of good quality in comparison to the Medela?

  18. Great tips… I had a manual for baby no.1 and only used it for odd trips out.. but for baby no2/3/4/5/6 I expect I will need to pump more so I can return to work.. so, this will mean an electric – great post!

  19. I have to agree on getting an electric pump. I tried a manual pump and about went insane. I finally broke down and bought and electric pump and it made a huge difference.

  20. Thank you for posting! I’m a bit freaked out that I will have to go back to work after only 4 weeks. I plan to breast feed and pump at work so this blog post was perfect!

  21. I’m following your blog via GFC and would love a new pump for my next baby. My last manual pump didn’t last long πŸ™

    katiekstewart at gmail dot com

  22. I am a follower. My last daughter was a preemie and did not nurse until she was 5 weeks old and did not nurse full time until she was 4 months. I hated pumping but hated the alternative even more. I had a freezer full of milk. I was amazed I could keep up with it

  23. Wow, these tips are so helpful. Thanks for posting them. I plan to breastfeed also for at least 6 months some day. I will definitely be bookmarking this page so I can use it as a reference when the time comes.

  24. This was SUPER helpful! I was unable to pump with my first and i have been trying with my second, and I’ve only gotten about 12 ounces because I never know when to try ( i also got it with a manual pump lol)


  25. I am a GFC Follower as librarypat.

    Thanks for the information and giveaway. This will help my daughter who is expecting her first child in a few months.

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

  26. I’m a happy follower. I’m hoping to breastfeed for a year, but I’ll have to return to work at 8 weeks. Thankfully my job is pretty flexible, so I think I can make it work. I appreciate all the great advice.

  27. I’m so glad it is working out for you. It’s much easier for me the 2nd time around. I have to do it much longer too (an entire school year instead of half).

    I’m the Jennifer that posted the “leave the parts in the fridge” info on your breastfeeding blog. I got it from LLL boards when I was pumping for my daughter . I wish I had known when I was first pumping. It really does save me time, so I don’t feel like I’m at the pump as much.

    I hear so many people not/can’t Breastfeed for “101 reason” that it is nice to read/hear about someone else that can do it and work full time.

  28. Thanks so much for the tips, I’ll be a pumping/working mom (hopefully) and this helps a ton!

    Oh, and I follow via GFC πŸ™‚

    heatherandscott030709 at gmail dot com

  29. The tip about just putting the pump parts in the fridge – AWESOME. Did not know that. And I too found that the Lansinoh bags leaked. And I bought Simplisse bags! They feel so much thicker.

  30. Oh my goodness…. I can’t thank you enough for this. Definitely saved to my computer! We need more people like you to help us new moms who feel so clueless!!

    GFC: aa.powell at yahoo dot com

  31. I would love this breastfeeding package! πŸ™‚ I’m breastfeeding for the first time with my second baby, as my first had a hard time latching on. I am really loving the experience! Thanks for the hilarious pictures in this post; I laughed out loud! Great info as well.

  32. New GFC follower, although I subscribe to you in my reader and love your posts!

    The hubs and I are expecting our first together (I have a 3yo step daughter that I ADORE) in September, so I really appreciate the tips- I’m sure I am going to be referencing this post often, ha!

  33. Thanks for the tips! I’m due in May and have been thinking a lot lately about how I’m going to manage pumping/breastfeeding once I go back to work. I’m a GFC follower. πŸ™‚

  34. I follow (Farrah). I’m currently breastfeeding my twins but don’t have time to use the electric double pump during the day (wonder why?) I’m hoping this will be easier to use while I am chasing my 2 yr old. Thanks!
    farrah dot ritter at gmail dot com

  35. I’m a follower. Thanks for the chance to win.
    And even more, thanks for the tips! I’ll have to bookmark for when baby comes along πŸ™‚
    kirsten.jason.2010 at gmail dot com

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