Friday, September 12, 2014

For the Teacher-Mom: 3 Tips for Breast-Pumping at School

In some ways, teacher-moms have it better than many other working moms.  We have nights, weekends, holidays, snow days, and summers to spend with our children.  Of course there are lesson plans to be made and papers to be graded, but our physical presence (at least) is possible.  

In other ways, though, I think non-teaching working moms have it better.  Breastfeeding and pumping are one of those ways.  While all employers (under the Fair Labor Standards Act) have to permit breastfeeding mothers to take "reasonable" pumping breaks and provide a place for that, teaching is just a difficult job for taking breaks of any kind.  In order to maintain supply, a mother needs to pump frequently, especially because pumps aren't usually as effective as babies at getting the milk out. Teachers get a planning period, but that only accounts for one time during the day.  We simply can't leave students unattended while we disappear for 15-20 minutes.

I was extremely nervous about it, but breastfeeding is also extremely important to me.  The good news is, I'm making it work.  Here's how:

1. Don't be afraid to address the issue with your administrators.  I'm fortunate to have incredible administrators at my school, who have families and are understanding.  I told them what I'd be doing, and I got over my fears enough to ask for things I needed: 1) to be allowed to have a mini-fridge in my classroom to store milk, 2) a morning break time, 3) a free pass on lunch duty.  I was provided with what I needed.

2. Establish a pumping schedule and comfortable routine.  I waited until my class schedule was ready, and worked with what I had.  Since my planning period is in the mid-afternoon, I asked for (and got) a paraprofessional to cover my class for 15 minutes at the end of 1st block.  I pump at 7:45, 9:30, 12, 1:30, and 3:30.  Usually I pump just sitting at my desk (which means eating lunch in my room), but during my morning break there are kids in there, so I go into the storage room.  

3. Get the "stuff."  

  • A nice pump (I use the Medela Pump in Style Advanced-- free with insurance!)
  • A bag to carry it all in, preferably thermal for times when you need to keep milk cool (I use this Thirty-One Picnic tote)
  • A fridge or cooler to keep your milk and bottles
  • A hands-free pumping bra-- SO important because it allows me to work at my desk while pumping.  (I ordered this one from Amazon.  There are much more expensive ones, but this works fine.)
  • A car adapter for the plug-in.  This is so important for in-service days when you might need to pump on the road.
There are other things (extra pumping parts, steam sanitizing bags, etc.) that are great, but these things are the real necessities.

I'm new at this, so I'm sure there are other great ideas I've not yet learned.  Anyone want to add anything?

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Note: None of the pumping paraphernalia I listed is sponsored-- just things I use and love.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Back to Blogging

I'm back!  

It's been ten months since my last post, and life has changed rather dramatically for me in that time.  As you may know, my last post announced my pregnancy to the world.  I was in the throes of first-trimester exhaustion and morning sickness, and pretty frightened (although, of course, supremely excited) about the prospect of the changes ahead of me.  I convinced myself there was simply no time for blogging, and I called it quits.  From time to time, though, I missed it.

Then my precious boy, Carter Ellis, arrived at a whopping 5lb 9oz, three weeks early on May 23, and the whirlwind that I called summer began:

Again, I thought about my blog.  I wanted to share him with the world-- but my blog is about teaching, not family.  So I put it off.  Then colic hit like a hurricane, and for six weeks there was no time for breathing, let alone blogging.  

Colic eventually passed, and I went back to work at the start of the school year as planned.  Carter was ten weeks old and I was fresh out of gallbladder surgery, and again-- I thought, "There's no way."

Now, though, I seem to be finally hitting my stride.  Carter is a happy, healthy 3 1/2 month-old who loves to blow raspberries, read books, and "talk":

and I'm adapting to this working mom thing pretty well.  I have kept up with some blog friends since I've been gone, but I sort of missed this sounding board for my thoughts about the classroom.  So here I am.

I think I originally put so much pressure on myself to blog regularly, and that's what caused me to take such a long break.  But, get this . . . there are no blog police.  No professor to demand my essay by midnight.  No rules.  I can blog when I have the time and something to say, but this isn't a job.  Why did I make it so hard on myself?  

The purpose of M*Print is still what it's always been-- to share ideas about my work as a high school teacher.  Carter will remain separate from that for the most part, but of course, my two lives do tend to cross.  With that in mind, I'm working on a piece about breastfeeding / pumping at work.  Look for that in the days ahead-- and with that in mind, 

it's good to be back.

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