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.
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