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Pumping at Work as a Teacher

Pumping at work can be tricky, especially when you are a teacher. We don’t have the luxury of pumping when our body needs it, or to match the feeding schedule of our baby…we have to pump during our designated prep times, which often only happens once during a workday. I was SO nervous about all of this but I made it work, and developed a routine that made pumping while in my classroom so easy that I have to share.

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First, make sure you are prepared with all of the supplies you will need.

1) Extra Pump: Having an extra pump to keep at work means less stress. It is one less thing to worry about, and what happens if you forget it?  I was lucky enough to get my pump for free from my insurance company (if you haven’t checked that out with your insurance yet give them a call). That’s why I didn’t feel bad about spending some extra money on a second pump. I went on eBay and purchased a used pump for MUCH cheaper than the store price. Sounds kind of icky right? I then went on Amazon and purchased brand new tubing, flanges, and membranes from Amazon for only $14, so I was only using the used base and all of the hygiene related pieces were brand new!

2) Hands Free Bra: This will become your best friend! You can eat while pumping, write lessons plans, make phone calls…anything! I even used this to pump while doing my hair and make-up in the mornings! I tried a bunch of them but I LOVE this one the best because it adjusts to your ever changing body. As you start to lose the baby weight you can adjust the bra accordingly. It also kept the bottles upright and the openings didn’t sag as the bottles filled with milk.

3) Nursing Cover: So being a teacher we often don’t have a space to pump other than our classrooms. And with that comes the risk of a students walking in, the janitor, another teacher friend, etc. As teachers, we’re so used to the open door policy it can be hard to find a private moment. Trust me I know….not only am I a teacher, but as a special education teacher I share my space with 3 other teachers, who don’t share the sa/;p/;p/me prep as me. That means, when it’s my time to pump, they have students with them. My nursing cover made this a possibility and allowed me to feel comfortable. People would actually come to talk to me while I was pumping and they had no idea what I was doing, one said it just looked like I was about to do an art project! Slap a sign on your door that says you’re busy, position an easel or some bins in front of you, put that cover on and you are good to go!

4) Breast Milk Bags: You can pump directly into storage bags and then bring those bags to the babysitter or daycare. The Medela bags are great because they come with an adapter and slits within the bag to “hook” onto the adapter. However, they did leak on me a few times so I ended up using the Target bags and cutting my own “slits” into them to hook onto the Medela adapter.

5) Insulated Bottle Bag: You’re going to need a place to put that liquid gold during the day and on your way home. Insulated bottle bags are a great way to keep your breast milk cold. It also makes keeping your breastmilk in a shared refrigerator a little more private.

6) Bamboobies Nursing Pads: Avoid embarrasing leaks or even the anxiety of worrying that you are leaking, by wearing nursing pads. The disposable pads can be bunchy, noticeable and just down right uncomfortable. Bamboobies washable pads were just heavenly (for real, they are so soft and feel so good). They were super soft and they didn’t leave any outline so no one could tell I was wearing them. HIGHLY recommend!

Talk to Administration & Co-Workers
Let your boss know that you will be pumping at work. Although you don’t have to share this information it will make things easier for you if they plan an IEP meeting during your prep, or have a professional development day with no scheduled breaks. Then you can just gently remind your administration that you will have to step out to pump. I also suggest letting some co-workers know, especially those on your team, so that they know you won’t be available during preps or grade team meetings. People are generally very accepting of this and will give you all of the privacy and accommodations you need.
Let Your Body Adjust to Your New Schedule
Upon returning to work your body is most likely used to nursing every 2-3 hours, which means that every 2-3 hours you are going to start to fill up and feel very uncomfortable if you don’t pump. Unfortunately, we’ll be held to a tighter schedule now and not have the flexibility. The good news is, the body is an amazing thing and will adjust to our new schedule…if we let it. Deal with the discomfort for a few days and watch as your body re-adjusts to your schedule. Learn how to hand express so that if it gets too uncomfortable, you can go into the bathroom and relieve some of that pain.
Have Snacks & Water Handy
Pumping makes your hungry and thirsty! Keep those snacks and water bottles handy. Granola bars, trail mix, pretzels are all snacks you can buy in bulk and just keep in your room for when the hunger hits!
Have a Clean Space to Pump
As I mentioned earlier, I share a room with 3 other teachers…so my space is super limited. Which means I had to pump at the same table I was teaching kids…not the most sanitary option. I kept lysol wipes nearby and just simply wiped down everything before settling down to pump.
Don’t Kill Yourself Keeping Parts Clean 
You don’t have to clean your parts in between each use if you keep them refrigerated. Grab a Tupperware that will fit your pump parts, and store them in the fridge in between uses. This will save you a ton of time and energy. 
I remember losing sleep (and it’s not like I was getting enough sleep that I had any to spare) over how I would manage pumping as a teacher….but I did it for 9 months and it became such a normal part of my day that I didn’t even think twice about it. Trial and error is key…find a system that works for you and pump on mamas!
Want to grab any of the supplies I mentioned earlier? Shop here:

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Hi, I’m Michelle! I’m a teacher, mommy, and curriculum designer from Long Island, NY. I’ve taught both general and special education, with a focus on grades pre-k through first. My passion is hands-on learning, and finding ways to make all things engaging and fun!

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