Iddah Membo – Expressing Breastmilk at Work: What Worked for Me

Iddah Membo – Expressing Breastmilk at Work: What Worked for Me

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Many new moms, especially those who have to resume work after maternity leave often wonder about how their little ones will continue feeding while they are away. More so for those who are determined to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months. Is it really possible? How will they go about it? The logistics involved? The office environment? Transporting the expressed milk….and many more questions.

Well, I talked to one career mom Iddah Membo-Onyango, who managed to pump milk for her son until he was a year old, having resumed work when he was three months old. Exactly how did she do it? She shares what worked for her:

-     Access to a private room I could pump in. When I went back to work after maternity leave, I had an easy time since my colleague had also just resumed work after her maternity leave, and she’d been allocated a room where she could express milk – complete with the keys for privacy. I joined her, and this room became permanently booked during lunch hour, between 1pm – 2pm.

-     The fact that I was able to have lunch as I pumped, so once I was done I promptly went back to my desk to work at 2pm. This means that I didn’t lose any work hours.

What you need for a stress-free pumping session:

-     A breast pump – and a good pump at that. A good pump will determine whether you will enjoy pumping or if you’ll hate it.

-     Containers for putting in the expressed breastmilk. You can use the usual branded plastic ones, or you could use milk bags. Personally, I discovered putting the milk directly in milk bags helps as it reduces overhandling the milk. The milk bags also made it easy for me as when I got home, I just put it directly into the fridge.

-     You should also have some hot water while expressing, as this helps stimulate the milk flow. Warm water will also help wipe the tits once you’re done.

-     You need a liner, which comes in handy when wiping the breasts once you have dipped it in warm water.

-     I also used a small towel which was very helpful. This towel – when placed underneath the bra when pumping ensures that any leaks are absorbed by the towel and will not drip down to your office wear or the bra.

-     I also always had a spare top/blouse.  Having one as a plan B is necessary just in case your milk leaks and you’ve run out of spare breast pads thus staining the top you’re wearing. It can also come in handy in case the small towel mentioned above is not enough to absorb the leaks.

-     Blouse/dress with access at the front. I realized that when you’re pumping, you need to dress as though you will be breastfeeding at work. This makes it easy to pump without having to remove all your clothes.

-     Ice packs and a storage bag. These help when you have a long commute and the time between your pumping session and the time you get back home is longer than 6 hours. (Read here for tips on storing breast milk – such as how long it can stay outside a refrigerator). A special storage container, more like the ones doctors carry vaccines in ensures the milk has its own special space. After all, it is liquid gold. Alternatively, you can also use some milk storage bags.

-     I also used to drink lots of water, as this helped manage any dizziness and thirst.

Other helpful tips:

-     Pumping is more like taking a shower, once you start you have to finish so make sure you have all that you need in the room so that you don’t keep interrupting yourself to go rush outside for something.

-     Manage your office duties and client expectations well so that you don’t have any pending work that will be required while you are pumping.

-     Calls: Avoid taking calls in between- phones are not the cleanest items.

-      Remember that the room allocated to you is office space and is a privilege. It and should be left clean so you and any future moms can be granted its use later. Don’t spoil for others.

So there you go, I hope these tips will be helpful to you too. If you have any additional tips or advice, feel free to share them in the comments section below. Otherwise thanks a lot Iddah for sharing.

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