Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Pumping for a Baby + Law School

When the "baby discussion" started, my husband felt much stronger about breastfeeding than I was; since I was adopted, formula feeding seemed just fine to me. He cited all of the studies that said babies would be healthier and smarter and fatter and more bonded, plus mentioned how much cheaper it would be. He obviously would never be the one pumping at 3 am, but I agreed to see how it goes.

After Lilly was born, I knew I would still be in school full time. While this did give me a good bit of flexibility, it also meant long hours in the library, plus at least one full, 8-hour day every week at a legal clinic that was about an hour away, not to mention conference days. Exclusively pumping (EPing) seemed to be my best option for feeding her while also being able to keep up all my other commitments.

Even though it is the "easier" option, in the sense that you can schedule pumping vs. feeding whenever baby is hungry, IT IS NOT EASY. It definitely takes commitment, scheduling, and getting up when your alarm goes off at 4am, even if the baby just fell asleep. I will add that Lilly made it VERY EASY for me to start pumping immediately, as soon as we got home from the hospital. Even though I tried breastfeeding in the hospital, she pretty much refused to latch, and once we did start her on bottles, she was taking down 2-3oz a time, in about 2 minutes (yes, at 3 days old). I really don't thin she'd have the patience to try breastfeeding, since she can now finish 6 oz in under a minute.
For the first two weeks or so, Lilly was eating every two hours; even though my husband or someone else could bottle feed her, I tried pumping every two hours for at least 10 minutes, which is a total of two hours a day, plus the setup and clean up. Do you know how much that would cost someone in billable hours?! (Don't worry, I did the math; at the Maryland student rate, it would be about $325 a day.)
By the end of the first month, though, I was down to six or seven pumps a day, and by the end of the semester, I was pumping only five times a day for about 20 minutes. I became a pro at pumping in the car or in my office at school or in the bathroom at a restaurant or airport.

Initially, my goal was to pump for the first six months, and then see how it goes. I can gladly say that I have met that goal, and, looking at a summer full of bar prep and marathon training, I am enjoying the process of dropping pumps, with a plan to be DONE by the start of my last finals week. Based on my own personal experience, here's my tips and necessities for pumping while in law school:    

Top Tips


  • Make a schedule. Even if you don't stick to it precisely, knowing that you need to pump every four hours helps you plan your day around that. I had an alarm on my phone that went off every four hours, and on busy days would put 15 minute blocks of time on my google calendar. Pinterest has a lot of great links for suggested schedules as your baby gets older, but at the end of the day, do what is best for you!
  • Hydrate. You will feel like you are drowning, but the alternative is feeling parched. I think at one point I tracked my water intake and was drinking about 140+ ounces of water a day. Now I'm "only" drinking about 100 ounces, but with two pumps a day plus marathon training, I still feel dry. Stock up on some lemonade powder or Nuun tablets to make it better.
  • Change your wardrobe. Dresses are pretty much out, unless they are very stretchy and low cut. Button downs and v-necks are your friend. Whatever makes it easier so you don't have to do a wardrobe change every four hours. Also, ALWAYS have a cardi or scarf with you; you never know when you might start leaking. 
  • Pumping and working out: plan on working out right after you pump, when your boobs are at their smallest. Also, get some new sports bras; I was used to wearing a small pullover from Target, but had to upgrade to some nicer ones when my chest got bigger. Also, see above note about hydrating; even if I was just going to the gym for a quick lift, I'd bring two water bottles. Also, check with your doctor about any supplements you want to keep using, and check for some third-party reviews of them. A lot of protein powders have high levels of stuff that may not be good for babies. I know I stopped using any preworkout because it just made me too dehydrated.  
  • Freeze what you can. After my milk came in, I was pumping at least 30 ounces a day, and increased my supply to over 40 ounces a day at one point. Anything I had leftover, I froze for later. You never know when you might need to switch over to frozen milk for a little bit! Over Christmas we ended up bringing a few days' worth of frozen milk with us while we traveled, which turned out to be a good idea: the day before Christmas Eve I ended up getting some serious food poisoning and spent a few hours in the emergency room. Meanwhile, my mom tossed all of the milk I had pumped throughout the trip, "just in case food poisoning gets in the milk." A week later, while we were out in California, my husband and I left the baby with his family for a night while we spent a night in Las Vegas. Lots of judgy eyes as I pumped in the bathroom at Caesar's Palace (what, like I was supposed to be breastfeeding on the casino floor instead?). In both instances I was glad to have an easily-defrosted backup.
  • Don't be afraid to go out and travel! It might take a little extra preparation, but don't avoid a long brunch just because you'll have to pump halfway through. Also, you will eventually get to sleep more than four hours at a time. I promise. 

Must haves


  • Medela Pump in Style Advanced with accessories: About halfway through my pregnancy, Tricare finally decided they would provide breast pumps to beneficiaries. Hurray! It was actually a pretty easy system to get a script from my doctor and order a Medela Pump in Style through an approved provider. I did add some extra accessories, such as a battery pack with rechargeable batteries for when I was traveling, and made sure to have flanges fitted. I also kept a little baggie of extras on hand, such as cleaning wipes, Honest Co. nipple balm, and a Clif bar and water bottle. I also used steam clean bags every night to clean the parts and pieces. 

I did not order the special bag that you can get for this, and instead just carried it around in whatever I was carrying that day, or an extra tote bag. Not a much structure, but I didn't have many problems (except on the occasional days I forgot some random piece).

  • Hand pump: I started keeping a handpump in my car for whenever I got stuck in traffic or just had to stay out longer than I planned to and didn't happen to bring my pump. Just as a backup. I got a Lansinoh manual pump, and thought it was just fine. 


  • Kiinde Twist direct pump system: I cannot say enough good things about this system. I am a klutz, and I knew the milk transfer thing was probably going to end up being a disaster. I came across this system on Pinterest, and for any working moms, IT IS A LIFE SAVER! The bottom line: it comes with adapters for pretty much any pump system, so you can attach storage pouches directly to the pump, while you're pumping, then screw a lid on and put thepouches in the fridge. As if that itself weren't easy enough, you can then slide the pouch into a bottle contraption, and pop a nipple right onto the pouch, and feed the baby. No transfers at all, and minimal exposure to outside contaminants! AS IF THAT WEREN'T ENOUGH, they also make the best bottle warmer ever. AAAAND, the same pouches can then be used for baby food, and a spoon can be attached to the pouch. THIS IS BRILLIANT! I can't tell you how many moms I have made jealous when I whip out a pouch to warm up, and explain how easy the whole system is. 
  • Bamboobies: I didn't leak too too much, but enough that I was glad I had these! I think once I did leak enough to soak through them, but that was just one time (and very inopportune). 
  • Feed Baby app: I love this app because it has a timer, lets you input how much you have pumped and when, lets you set alarms for your next pump time, as well as lets you track a bajillion other baby things (naps, diaper changes, feedings, medicines, dirty diapers, etc). And, once you create a profile, you can share it, so my husband and I can both see exactly when the last time the baby ate. 


  • Nursing tops: I don't mean this in the, you must wear nursing tanks all the time, way. I mean this in a, you need to find some clothes that let you pump without getting cold, way. And anything that let's you go hands-free is a huge plus. Now, I am not that well-endowed, so many of my old run tanks with a built in bra worked just fine for me; I wore them under all my t shirts or sweaters, and just pulled that up, balanced the breast shields, and continued playing on my phone. However, I would highly recommend getting something a little more secure like the Dairy Fairy hands-free nursing and pumping tank; I also had two belly bandit mother tucker tanks. 

I also started wearing more flowy tops when I was out somewhere that I might have to make a pumping stop. My favorites were actually the biggie tops from SOAS; I wore this to many client interviews as well as on long plane rides. It's loose enough that you can discretely pump while in an airplane seat without looking like an apron.

  • Snacks: Unless you have your own chef, you're probably going to be snacking a lot, and eating real meals less often. My favorite snack was actually a variation on powerballs I like to bring with me on long bike rides; I tweaked them just a little bit to include more galactogogues, which are great for increasing your milk supply. 
Powerballs:
  • 1 cup of old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup of ground flaxseed
  • 1 scoop of brewer's yeast
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • dash of vanilla
  • dash of cinnamon
  • extras: chopped nuts, coconut flakes, whatever else you like
  • Just combine all ingredients in a bowl, form into 1 oz balls, and store in the fridge. I'd eat one or two during a mid morning or afternoon pump as an energy boost. 
Life will never be the same it was before; you'll never be able to just run out of the door and go somewhere. For me, exclusively pumping was the best way to feed my baby and still have the flexibility to get things done. It's a choice and a commitment I made, and I made the conscious decision to accept the good and the bad. Quitting simply wasn't an option, so the maybe tomorrow wouldn't be so tough. 

At the end of the day, everyone should do what is best for them and their family. If pumping is the route you choose, best of luck, I know you can do it! 

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