I've been around the block when it comes to working and breastfeeding - or, more accurately, working and pumping. I've interviewed hundreds of working moms for my upcoming book on the same topic (I'll take any title suggestions you've got - my best one so far is Pumping At Work Sucks), and I'm amazed at the hacks and workarounds we come up with to make this whole horrible thing a bit easier.
So here, I bring you my 10 Best Hacks for pumping at work.
10. If you forget a pump bottle, steam-sterilize a coffee cup to catch the milk in. Wash and rinse, then add 1 oz. of water. Cover with a saucer or plate, and microwave for 2 minutes.
9. If you hang a "do not disturb" sign on the door of your lactation room, make sure it's at eye level for men, too. They might not notice a sign hung down by their chest.
8. If your regular "lactation room" is a closet with no lock, hang a curtain on a tension rod inside the door to create an extra barrier between you and any intruders. It'll buy you 5 seconds to frantically shout "occupied".
7. If you forget breast pads, cut a pantyliner in half and stick it inside your bra cups. It even has adhesive!
6. If you see water inside your pump tubes, run the pump with tubes attached (but without the pump parts attached) for 5 minutes after you're done pumping. This will dry them out and prevent mildew from growing.
5. If you forget ice packs when flying with breast milk, ask a flight attendant or airport bartender to fill some of your breast milk storage bags with ice.
4. If you don't have time to wash your pump parts between pumping sessions, throw them in a large Ziploc bag and put the bag in the fridge until next time. It's sanitary, I swear.
3. Freeze bags of milk flat on their sides, with no more than 6 oz. per bag. They will freeze into nice, flat little bricks that will be easy to stack in your freezer (or in a shoebox inside your freezer).
2. If pumping while sitting on a public toilet (yep, that happens), put a Post-It Note over the automatic flush sensor to stop it from flushing on your butt. If you can't stand the idea of sitting on the toilet, stand up! Hang your pump bag from the coat hook on the inside of the stall door.
1. If you spill breast milk on your keyboard, tell the IT department it was coffee. No one has to know.
***Want more? From building a freezer stash to talking about your breasts with the person who signs your paychecks, my new book, Work. Pump. Repeat: The New Mom's Survival Guide to Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work, comes out September 8, 2015. You can order via:
Thanks to all of you smart mamas who shared your design tips and hacks with me. And please add your own hacks and tricks in the comments!
A version of this post appears on The Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jessica-shortall/breast-feeing-working-mothers_b_5071940.html
Work. pump. repeat.