So, you are almost getting back to work. How time flies. Just a few days ago you were over the moon over maternity leave. It seemed so long a time to be off work. Shock!!!!!!!! Three months down the line. And there you are!!!!!!!!!!!And what have you been up to? Well, nothing much. Of course you were indoors most of the time. Your hands always full trying to learn, bond and love your little bundle of joy. I know you two have inseparable since the day you first held her in your arms. Soon, work is going to be this side chic coming between you two. Sad…….the guilt of a working mom hits you!… I know. Its hard..But that’s for another day.
Has it crossed your mind how it will be like being away from your baby for more than 8 hours a day? Think about your boobies!!!!! They are used to being emptied by your munchkin frequently. And soon you won’t have this luxury. This is the time you start visualizing your office and curse the for lack of provision for lactation rooms….. Don’t these guys know that my baby need exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months? Are they informed that milk supply is on demand and supply basis? Do they know the cost of formula milk? Have they felt the pain of engorged breast? Have they experienced mastitis? How am I even supposed to focus on crazy deadlines while my breasts are on fire? More questions than answers….Your working spirit is squashed and you can hardly stomach going back to that office. But, well, your bank account balance speaks otherwise. It needs pumping. So are your boobs.
So, what the essential for expressing at work?
- Breast Pump– Invest in a good breast pump. There are two main types: Manual and electric. I prefer manual because it does not limit you as far as power sockets are concerned. Meaning, with a manual pump, you are more flexible on space matters. Electric however, makes your work easier. My advice to you is buy a pump before you resume office and launch it. Having expressed before gives you confidence and you are able to determine how long it takes to empty both breast. This will help you plan your time well.
- Breastmilk storage containers or bags- You are not expressing to waste that milk. You know how valuable it is. So you definitely need storage. There various storage containers out there in the market and are in two categories. Plastic containers and storage bags.Plastic containers come with tight lids to prevent leakage and can be washed hence are reusable. They also come with adapters for expressing and feeding. I love the containers more because of handling. You just thaw milk and feed from the same container hence contamination chances are reduced. The storage bags are sterilized and come up with zip-lock to prevent leaking and can only use once. Experiment on the ones that are easy to carry around to office and pick the one that suits you. Ensure that you seal the storage bag or the container properly to avoid leakage. The advantage of storage bag is that it saves on space in the freezer. Go for what works for you.
- Labels and pen- Dating breast milk is as important as expressing it. Indicate the date that the milk was expressed. This will help you determine the freshness of the milk. Frozen milk can go up to six months of storage and the only sure way of dating this is labeling. If the breast milk is stored longer that this, it can be poisonous for the baby.
- A cool bag or cool box lined with frozen ice packs- Whether you have a fridge in the office kitchen, its key to have a cooler bag. Mostly because the office fridge are public and you don’t want to contaminate your baby’s milk. Additionally, some colleagues may find it uncomfortable to store their packed lunch next to breast milk. The bag is designed such that it has Ice section for keeping breast milk cool till you go home. They also make it easy to organize the expressed milk for portability on your way home whether you have a car or using public transport.
- Ice- This is what will keep your breast milk fresh till you go home. Keep ice in the cool bag and you will be good to go. I realized that ice cubes melt faster and won’t last for more than 8 hours. If you have a fridge in the office, keep replacing ice-cubes. If not, use on of breast milk storage bag, fill it with water and keep in the freezer overnight to form an ice rock. Put it the cool bag in the morning. This works for me. It will melt yes but at a slower rate and last longer than ice cube.
- Expressing space- You definitely need a private space. Be it a conference room, board room, unused office space, store, printing room, kitchen name it. Some offices however don’t have all these. You can use your car. If you don’t have one request one of your colleague preferably female. If no car is available, you can identify a clean washroom within the building that you are comfortable in. Hygiene is paramount. That’s all you need to keep in mind. No excuse for not expressing. A mom got to do what she got to do for her baby. Just do it. You are feeding your generation. However, it time we ensure that breastfeeding bill is passed to ensure that all working moms have access to clean lactation rooms.
The thing that you need to remember is keep the milk in the freezer immediately you get home. For you to ensure that your baby is exclusively breastfed for the recommended 6 months, it’s good that you start pumping early. It’s never too late to start even if you have a week to go to work. Invest in a good freezer. In fact, immediately after giving birth, the first weeks you normally have high milk production and it’s even more nutritious because of high colostrum content. When the baby is fully fed, pump! You not only maintain you milk production but also ensure you baby has enough even when you go back to work. I have never bought formula! How cool is that! I know. We are 8 months now! You can do it too. You are a super mom!
TIP: Always wear breast pads to work. You don’t want to ooz that protein in the middle of a presentation.
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