back to work - breast vs formula
February 21, 2014 12:08 PM   Subscribe

My 6 week old daughter will be starting daycare next month (at 2.5 months old) - what should she eat at daycare? We are currently breastfeeding, I don't really want to stop, but there are some major logistical issues with pumping at work..

Right now we are breastfeeding about 95% of the time (one or two bottles of formula a day) - she takes the bottle fine, and also uses a pacifier sometimes. Breastfeeding is going well, and I'm finding it convenient to not have to mess around with prepping bottles or hauling more stuff when we go out. I'd rather not stop right now, but I'm having trouble envisioning how it's going to work once I'm back in the office, since we do not have any spaces that could be used for pumping. I do have a pump that I've used a bit, and haven't had any problems with it, but I don't really enjoy using it (PITA to clean the parts, feel like a cyborg milk machine, etc). I'm not passionate about the kid getting breast milk per se, I'm mostly motivated by the convenience and cost savings.

So, option A is pumping at work and continuing with breastmilk as we are currently:

There are some issues with this - first of all, my office is open plan with no rooms at all, in a converted industrial building on a small campus of similar buildings. Our bathroom is in another building, there is no kitchen. The office is <50 people, so not required to provide a space. So, it looks like the car is really the only option. In addition, there's no place to store the pumped milk except in the cooler in the pump bag - we have only a shared mini fridge for everyone and adding a mini fridge at my desk will blow the circuits (space heaters in the winter regularly trip them). So, it's looking like the pumping scenario would be in the car, using the cooler bag. Has anyone done this? Is this less awful than it sounds? I don't even know how I would rinse off all the pump parts in the scenario - I'm pretty sure I would end up with milk all over the car..? Does the milk really not go bad in that pump cooler bag, even in warm weather (office also has no A/C...)? Do I need a bigger cooler?

Additional issue is that daycare tuition covers 10 hours of care... and my official work hours are 10 hours. So I'm already cutting back on my time at work to pick up and drop off - I'm not sure I can really swing taking even MORE time out of my day to be pumping. How many times during the day do you normally pump? Once I could do, but it seems like it would need to be probably 2-3 sessions over my 9 hours at work?

Option B would be NOT pumping at work, sending formula to daycare and BF at home:

Does this even work? This would be ideal for me! Or will I inadvertently be shutting down my milk supply? Or I guess, just pump once at work and maybe dump if I can't keep the milk cool enough, just to keep supply going?

Option C is transitioning entirely to formula:

When would we need to start doing this? Also makes me a little sad, not ideal in my mind. Also increased cost of formula, constant bottle prep and washing, etc. No bueno.

Working moms, please advise! What should I do? My inclination (clearly) is option B, the combo, but if that's known to not work well, I'd like to know now...
posted by annie o to Health & Fitness (33 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Look, I'm not a mom, but I will say this: it sounds like continuing to breastfeed once you go back to work is not going to be feasible. And you know what? THAT'S OKAY. Your kid will have had 2.5 months of breast milk up to that point, which is awesome. Seriously. I totally get that "breast is best" but bottle is not omgterrible. Working moms feel a lot of guilt about being bad moms as well as bad employees. Don't guilt yourself about this. Give your kid the bottle!
posted by radioamy at 12:14 PM on February 21, 2014 [9 favorites]

We transitioned to formula for daycare, and that went pretty well. We kept doing mornings and nights for awhile. I think formula gets a bad rap for being "expensive"; I feel like it doesn't have to be as expensive as people think? Assuming your child doesn't need a special formula*, you can buy generic brand; we used the Costco Kirkland brand and it was $17 for a huge can (we used maybe 2-3 cans a month?). Our pediatrician said that's the kind she always recommends, because it's cheap and the same as all the name brands.

*And sometimes I think you can get special formulas covered by your insurance if needed? Hope someone who knows more about that will weigh in.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:17 PM on February 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

First of all, Option B is feasible, but you would have to slowly transition to this rather than going cold turkey. Also at 2.5 months I think (IIRC its been a while) that there is a major hormonal change coming very soon for you, that changes the way milk production works, so you might have to wait until that has settled down before making any drastic changes. I did this later on and it was nice to have the best of both worlds.

For option A, I didn't have to pump in the car but I have pumped at the office. The cooler is totally fine to keep the milk, as long as you put ice packs in there too. You can also store the pump parts in there, which means you don't need to wash them until you get home in the evening, so that cuts down majorly on the hassle and time. I found that pumping 3x at work allowed me to feed 100% breastmilk, if I cut back to 2x at work my supply dropped and I had to supplement. But YMMV.

Depending on what kind of work you do, can you work while you pump? I used to do this because a) then I didn't feel guilty about taking time away to pump, and b) because then I focused on work and didn't stress about the pumping, which is more pleasant and better for production (for me).

Option C is also perfectly fine if you decide you don't want to deal with the hassle of options A or B. No need to feel guilty about it. But if you want to do option A or B then you can make it work. I always recommend joining an awesome mailing list called PumpMoms on yahoo groups. They were SO, SO helpful for me, lots of info and tips from other moms pumping at work.
posted by Joh at 12:21 PM on February 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I switched to formula during the work day and breastfeeding in the morning and night for about a year. It worked great and I loved that time with my baby first thing in the morning and at night. Initially you might need some (really) good breast pads until your milk supply adjusts to the new schedule.
posted by ms_rasclark at 12:22 PM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd rather not stop right now, but I'm having trouble envisioning how it's going to work once I'm back in the office, since we do not have any spaces that could be used for pumping.

This responsibility does not solely fall on you. Talk with your HR and facilities folks at work. If your company is too small to have a dedicated person in these roles, go directly to the person that gets things done by the book. There are things that can be done to provide you with appropriate privacy. Breastfeeding isn't a hobby, and there will be points where you will physically have to pump during the day if you want to be able to do it in the evening.

I'll always say that you do what your baby needs - in this case that at a minimum involves you going back to work, and if that means that you figure out that stopping is best to be able to facilitate that - then that is the decision that is made and it is in the baby's best interest. I think Joh laid out the three scenarios amazingly.

If it is possible, get one of those nice Modellas. They're pricey, but they're fast, have great suction and that means you are back to work faster.

While I didn't breastfeed personally, my wife dealt heavily with the issue which meant that for our son it wasn't possible after the sixth week, and for our daughter it became impossible after six months.

Congrats on the baby!
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:29 PM on February 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

For starters - you have another month before daycare begins. I'd recommend pumping and freezing as much as possible now, even if that means an extra bottle of formula each day for now - the tradeoff of additional breastmilk via bottle each day once you are back at work is probably worth it.

Also - seconding Nanukthedog - just because your employer is small and not legally required to provide something doesn't necessarily mean they won't. Does the bathroom in the other building have an outlet where you can plug in the pump? If you are working hourly rather than salaried (and it sounds like you are) then you are probably entitled to breaks. Can you coordinate those so you can pump during the day without needing to clock out any longer than your normal breaks?

Finally - don't count out the possibility of adding a second mini-fridge. They don't use anywhere near the amount of power as a space heater, so you might find that it doesn't cause a problem.
posted by trivia genius at 12:40 PM on February 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

You may find that once you return to work that formula is the easiest and most convenient for you.

It's okay. I was 100% bottle fed and I turned out fine. Many of my friends have bottle fed their babies and they turned out fine.

If it doesn't work for you, it doesn't.

And whatever you decide, it's no one's business but yours and your family's.

Being a new mom is hard. Being a new mom who works outside the home is hard. There are optimal things, and there is what you can actually do. Don't drive yourself batshit because you can't be the Martha Stewart of new moms.

You may be frosted at how easy it is to bottle feed, and how much your baby likes it.

Cut yourself a break. Getting through the first year unscathed is the most important thing.

Mazel-tov on your little one!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:45 PM on February 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I had no supply issues and I have the most optimal set-up imaginable for pumping -- I work at home, I'm self-employed with highly flexible hours, I don't even do conference calls -- and it was still a pain in the butt. I would have switched my kid to formula in a heartbeat except she couldn't tolerate dairy or soy, and wouldn't drink the $30/can formula that was the only other option.

Every minute you lose from work in order to pump (even if you can work through pumping you still have to wash the equipment, deal with storage and set up, etc.) is time you have to make up, essentially. I would have much rather had that time with my kid.

If you can pump without it causing havoc in your work and parenting life, I think that is great. It seems like for many women it is just one more thing that makes that first year harder than it needs to be.

Good luck whatever you decide.
posted by xeney at 12:56 PM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and as for option B: it works for some women and not for others; it really depends on your supply. Most people who do extended breastfeeding (past one year) do some form of this, though, and it generally works just fine.
posted by xeney at 12:59 PM on February 21, 2014

I can address the pumping in the car aspect. On trips, I've had to do it a few times, and it does take some coordination. And likely you will get milk in your car.* It's doable but not necessarily ideal.

Also, for cleaning there are wipes you can use or a steam clean bag if you have access to a microwave.

I was able to keep my milk in the small tote without a refrigerator and it was fine for the day. (Granted, I was in a place that was air conditioned so that helped).

But, don't feel guilty if you want to switch over to formula for daycare. Or another option would be to just pump once a day over your lunch hour and send both formula and breast milk.

(I have a friend who would use the breast pump while driving using one of the breast pump bras and a strategically placed sweater. I don't know if I'd recommend that option though.)
posted by statsgirl at 1:12 PM on February 21, 2014

Hi, I am a working mom. I pump twice a day and am lucky in that daycare is nearby and I have a long enough lunch that I can nurse my baby during my lunch break. It is actually pretty awesome and if you are able to do that, do it! I have a Hygeia double electric pump that works great and it takes me less than 15 minutes a pump session. That is including rinsing off the pump parts, but you can just keep them in a plastic bag between sessions and wash them at home after work every day, which can shave off a few minutes for you each session.

First of all, it sounds like you are familiar with your rights. Break Time for Nursing Mothers from the US Department of Labor. (I'm assuming you are in the USA.)

As you said in your post, your employer does not have more than 50 employees, so they are not required to supply this. But it can't hurt to ask. Ask nicely. And be flexible. Come at it from the standpoint that you are trying to do the best you can for your child and for your employer. And that it is only a temporary situation - most moms do not pump for much longer past baby's first birthday, and if you stay home the first 3 months, that's only 9 months! Not that long of a time, if you think about.

Does your building have a conference room? A server room? A utility closet that can fit a chair for you? Is there a corner in the big warehouse space you could put a chair and put on a nursing cover while you pump?

We have a small conference room at my office (of less than 20 people, most of whom have kids and/or grand kids). It has a large interior window into the lunch room. I asked our office coordinator lady if I could put up a shower curtain over the interior window for when I would pump. She said no. And instead purchased professional vertical blinds for the window and had the company pay for them. My (male) boss loved the idea and thought it looked professional and would be a good private place for any of the other employees if they needed to take a personal call or something.

Do your coworkers have families at all? I've been mostly surprised by how supportive my coworkers have been. Especially the male coworkers with kids. When there were meetings in the small conference room one day, one of the IT guys went out of his way to get me a chair, clear off a table and an outlet and made a space for me in the server room for me to pump in. All I had asked was if he could unlock the server room door for me!

I read Hirkani's Daughters while I was still on maternity leave. I really enjoyed the book as it was real women's stories from all over the world on how they made breastfeeding work for them as they had to go back to work (of varying kinds of jobs). Maybe some of the stories in there can help inspire you to find a solution. My local La Leche League loaned me their copy.

Are you able to check your emails from home? Maybe you can make up some of your pumping time by responding to emails from home before and/or after work. For me, I'm a non-smoker and I figure that the time I take to pump is less than the time some smokers take for their smoke breaks. And my baby is only little for a short while. If your company values you as an employee (which they should!), they will realize this, too, and work with you to retain their talent and keep everyone happy.

MeMail me if you'd like. I'd be happy to help you think of ideas.

You are doing great, mom!
posted by jillithd at 1:16 PM on February 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

There is nothing wrong with formula. Formula meets children's nutritional needs. There is a strong cultural stigma we've concocted about formula. It's hooey. I fell for it. I remember being *livid* at the hospital when our eldest was born - they were concerned about jaundice and just a couple days after he was born they insisted we supplement with formula. Two days into the kid's life, and I felt like the world's worst dad because my kid was on formula.

Then you get over it, you do what you need to do, and the kid is fine.

Pumping is great - I hope you work something out that works for you. But if formula is all (or part) of the answer for you, that's fine too.

It's really really ok to use formula.
posted by colin_l at 1:18 PM on February 21, 2014

Just as there's nothing wrong with formula, there's also nothing wrong with wanting to give more extended breastfeeding a fair go for economic or other reasons. You might get good logistical advice from the women over at the breastfeeding subreddit.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:35 PM on February 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'd suggest you don't pump in your car for what is probably a really stupid reason but I know it annoyed the crap out of my SIL. Don't pump in your car if its a "good" car it is really hard to do without spilling even just a few drops and once the milk gets into the carpet or the fabric of your car seat or whatever and for the rest of the time you own the car it will smell of rotten milk and there won't be a thing you can do about it. My SIL had the car professionally detailed the works and her car just stunk of rotten milk afterwards, nothing her kids did as toddler in her car annoyed her as much as that smell.

More on topic, she tried pumping for a while and found it all just too much work on top of everything else, she changed to formula expecting all sorts of backlash from the universe for failing as a mum. Nothing happened, both her kids are fine and healthy and she saved extra stress on herself at a time that was full of enough stresses.
posted by wwax at 1:49 PM on February 21, 2014

Response by poster: Really I'm just finding breastfeeding the most convenient option for me right now, which is why I'm reluctant to make a complete switch to formula. There is a small part of me that would like to continue BF because that's what you're "supposed" to do, but the convenience is the bigger factor for me. Can anyone sell me one the idea that schlepping around bottles of formula / taking the extra 2 min to make up a bottle every time / all the extra washing is not so bad? I'm mostly just not excited by the idea of even more Stuff taking over my life... the boobs just come with us wherever we go, you know?

For both the combo or formula options, how have you transitioned to that? Just add another bottle of formula each day until you're where you need to be?

Also, I have asked my employer if they can find a space and they're looking into it, but certainly nothing is coming to mind on my end (there's nothing with a door in our space). They're definitely being helpful, but I am the first person in the office to have a kid, so this is all new for them too.
posted by annie o at 2:19 PM on February 21, 2014

Pumping is a huge pain even under an ideal setup. Formula is fine.
posted by yarly at 2:44 PM on February 21, 2014

I agree that there's no harm in asking your employer if they can accommodate you in any way. I pumped for quite a while, and it sucked (har har).

Someone mentioned briefly that you'll have to pump at some point -- I just want to emphasize that. If you do decide to use formula at daycare, you'll probably find yourself with rock-hard breasts by 2 pm for several days. Pumping fixes that. So I'd recommend that you plan to do at least some pumping at work and figure out how that's going to be most convenient for you.

Reducing feedings will definitely also reduce your supply. I ended up discontinuing at 11 months due to lack of supply, and I wasn't using formula, but it wasn't a big deal and I just fed him whole milk and the table food he wanted and that was fine, too.
posted by woodvine at 3:08 PM on February 21, 2014

Listen, nothing says you can't do both.

Pump what you can at work. Daycare gives formula the rest of the time. You breastfeed at home.

This is what I did with my second. It was fine. It worked out.

Also, if you are in the US and work for an employer with 50+ employees, well, hello ACA and Department of Labor and breastfeeding.

My opinion? If breastfeeding is working and you don't want to stop, then don't. But also don't feel like you need to pump every last ounce at work, either. But then if you can't, don't feel guilty about giving formula at daycare, and if your baby is like mine? Even if a full bottle of formula was given ten minutes before pick up, baby will be tearing off the shirt upon pick up anyway.

My daughter is two and a half and still nursing (right now as I type this actually), and she had mostly formula at daycare until she was one.

MeMail me if you want more information. Mixed feeding is perfectly legitimate. All breast milk only or all formula only are limited options. Give yourself some more by looking in between.
posted by zizzle at 3:17 PM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I also formula fed my first child primarily.

I hated it. The washing, etc. It was a big huge PITA. Much worse than pumping.
posted by zizzle at 3:19 PM on February 21, 2014

Just one little logistical bit, if the other pieces start to fall into place, and you decide to try pumping at work. I have a small lunch size cooler that I store my pump parts in during the day between pumpings, so I don't have to wash or sanitize them, though sometimes I rinse them when I'm feeling like an overachiever ;). I just put a little ice pack in there to keep them cool. You could always go for a bigger 'real' lunch cooler for milk + pump parts. This might give you more room for additional ice packs if the weather is warm.

I do find breastfeeding easier than bottle feeding overall (my supply tanked when I got pregnant again, so we've been doing a mix for a few months now).

Good luck!
posted by pennypiper at 3:25 PM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I returned to work with my daughter still nursing for almost all her nutrition, to a work environment which was probably about as crazy as it gets (Would you pump on a train, would you pump on a plane, would you pump beside a goat, would you pump while you float...I felt like Dr Seuss does breastfeeding!). For me it was a hard choice but well worth it.

You have the luxury that formula is a great option, safe, clean water etc, and if that is what works best for you and your child, then that's a great choice too!

But, be reassured it is possible to maintain pumping even in tough situations. I carried a cooler and pump bag everywhere, learned to beg for ice from all kinds of weird places when I needed it in a pinch to keep my 'to go' bag cold, and made it work for my daughter and I.

The things that helped me were: A really great cooler bag, a ton of the 'blue ice' packs (from the dollar store) to have to keep in my cooler, Medela Pump Wipes for when I couldn't wash out my pump properly, a BREATHTAKINGLY expensive pump (I used the Freestyle, so I didn't have to worry about a plug and could use it in 'dual mode', but I had supply issues, and needed a high end pump...many women do great with much simpler and cheaper pumps. Sometimes insurance will even cover pumps, or make it tax deductible), lots of sarongs to cover up if I had to pump somewhere a bit more awkward, and a sense of humor about the whole thing.

Some resources that helped me were: (lots of good ideas on coping with pumping in difficult circumstances), my local health unit/lactation nurses and friends/co workers who were supportive.

All the best to you and your child, and I am sure no what you choose you will do great!
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 3:25 PM on February 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am a teacher and my schedule when I returned to work was not very convenient for pumping (20 minute lunch, "off" period was 1st hour). My supply was not great either. What ended up being the solution was I would send a total of 6oz of breast milk to the sitter's house and my daughter would have 2 oz of breast milk mixed with 4oz of formula for each bottle. It made me feel better that my daughter was getting breast milk with each feeding. I don't know if it mattered, but it certainly helped *me* (psychologically) transition from her being 100% breastfed to formula fed. It took the self imposed pressure off of "I need to pump x amount today at work" and if I happened to pump more or less on any given day, we'd adjust the breast milk to formula ratio.

Also, my workplace didn't really have a designated pumping spot and schools can be germ factories, so a nice administrator let me use her office while she went to lunch. Maybe a co-worker who has pumped or talking with HR might help you find a not-so-obvious solution.
posted by Hop123 at 4:14 PM on February 21, 2014

Are there any cubicles in the building? Even if they're open, you can get sliding doors put on them, or get a folding screen. A sign with "please do not disturb - pumping for 15 minutes" on it will help remind folks not to jot her you. This kind of setup could be fashioned out of standalone cubicle partitions too.

Who knows - you might be the first mother to ask about this, but others might have been too shy to speak up!
posted by barnone at 5:41 PM on February 21, 2014

The rule of thumb for how many times a day to pump is roughly about how many times your baby would eat during that period, so it sounds like you'd expect to pump about three times a day based on a 10 hour workday. I pumped for a year while working full-time, and that's how many times I pumped per day - first session was about 20 minutes, second was 15, and third was about 10.

The more often your breasts are emptied, the more milk you will make. The inverse is true, so you could totally only pump once a day, but know that it may negatively impact your supply. This does depend a bit on how often baby nurses at home and during the night though too - she might re-regulate your supply while you're home and pumping 1x/day might work great for you.

You mention there's a shared mini-fridge for everyone - is there a reason that's not an option for storing your milk? I always stored my milk in the shared fridge at work! Breastmilk isn't considered a biohazard according to the CDC so there shouldn't be an issue (other than space) for using that fridge. If it's the squick factor for you or your co-workers, store it in an opaque bag and nobody has to know it's not just your lunch. Plus, breastmilk stays fresh for up to eight hours at room temperature. Don't feel like you need to pump and dump!

I've seen a co-worker pump in a cubicle while using a nursing cover. I've known a co-worker to only pump once a day. A friend pumped in her car. If you do pump in the car, just bring the pump parts in to rinse them out, or Medela makes some disposable wipes you could use.

I don't know exactly what to recommend for you - Option B, I guess, with pumping at least 1x/day or however often you can manage? I'd hate to see you switch exclusively to formula right away if you enjoy breastfeeding and don't want that relationship to stop!

Also, for what it's worth: your company has less than 50 employees, but they HAVE to accommodate you unless it will "impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business." I can't imagine it would actually be an undue hardship for them - if I were you, I'd ask a supervisor for input on what they feel the best course of action would be in terms of finding you an adequate place to pump. You basically need a chair, a table (or another chair to set your pump on) and an outlet, and ideally a locked door. But again, your employer would have to demonstrate that it'd be a hardship before they're allowed to not accommodate you!

Whatever you choose to do, you'll be making the best choice for you and your family.
posted by meggan at 7:18 PM on February 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Boobs adjust surprisingly well to weird schedules. I had to supplemental feed because of supply and failure to thrive issues (formula saved my baby's life, so did breastfeeding) and at 2plus, she still nurses. If you have an infection-prone kid, breastfeeding is helpful. The key thing is to have the Best Damn Pump you can get, and pumping-friendly bras so you can pump at work without having to strip.

However, we just did a small survey of post-partum mothers in slums in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Most of them are street sex-workers or have other long-hour jobs in factories etc. We wanted to figure out where they're giving birth, the biggest problems they face getting a healthy pregnancy and baby and so on. One surprising result was how long they breastfed. Part of this is that drinkable clean water is still new to the city, and for some of the women still inaccessible (shared bathroom, no tap) and formula is so expensive - we have a separate Baby Bellies program where we provide formula to malnourished babies and toddlers who have already been weaned because they're otherwise getting rice porridge or watered down condensed milk. Breastfeeding is cheap and easy. But there's no way to store milk, even with handexpressing as an option, because fridges are rare and food is usually stored in an insulated bucket with ice at most, and this is the tropics.

So what happens when they go back to work is that they feed the baby just before and just after work and there will be a long gap where the baby is either hungry or fed a substitute. But the majority of women managed to nurse at least a year on your Option B, in some of the worst circumstances available.

Now with my kid, I can definitely say that due to our crazy schedule, I often have days where I haven't nursed for 12-16 hours. There's a definite build-up of pressure, but the output adjusts and the kid just nurses longer than when she's at home all day and can nurse more frequently. Boobs adjust. Option B is totally doable.

Try the pump for a week or two, then dump it if you don't want to and adjust to longer time between nursing with formula at day care.
posted by viggorlijah at 8:37 PM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I nursed and pumped for almost two years, which included many sessions in my car. I've answered this question on the green a few times, feel free to browse my history to see my suggestions.

The short answer is, yes, it can be done, and after about a week you will feel like an absolute pro. Have a book or something to occupy your time, but otherwise pumping in the car is as easy as pumping in an empty office or dedicated mother's room.

Storage - the formula gift pack you got at the hospital included a little cooler bag big enough to hold a couple of 6/8oz bottles, right? That and the little ice pack it came with will keep your milk cool enough all day until you get it home and into the fridge (keep it in the office with you, don't leave it in the car).

I PROMISE you that you do not have to sterilize your pump parts every single time you pump during the day. Rinse them with hot water, wipe with a paper towel, and throw them into your bag until the next session. Get hubby to give them a good scrub when you get home at night, while you are nursing the baby.

Good resources for any questions regarding nursing and pumping include your local La Leche League chapter, and The Leaky Boob facebook page.

Feel free to memail me if you want more details on what I did.
posted by vignettist at 10:15 PM on February 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Your baby is very likely to reverse cycle and start taking the majority of her milk when you are home. You might find something like this hands-free, hidden system usable at least on the drive to work. Even if you can't find a way to keep the milk, this will help keep your supply going. There is also a Facebook group for pumping moms that has a lot of good information.
posted by Ariadne at 3:21 AM on February 22, 2014

Pumping never worked well for me, but your "option B" worked very well for us for over a year. Good luck figuring it out.
posted by judith at 9:22 AM on February 22, 2014

I pumped at work for a year, and it took a lot of time and was a lot of work, and that was WITH a convenient place to pump and store milk.

When my son turned one, I stopped pumping and just nursed him when we were together and it was SO NICE. I know a year is different than 2.5 months, but if I were you, I would not kill myself trying to give him 100% breastmilk. Formula when you are apart is WAY less work and you will enjoy life so much more.

I agree with others though, that you will need to pump sometimes for sheer relief, so be prepared for that. The first few weeks might be hard.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:38 AM on February 22, 2014

I think it's perfectly fine if you don't end up pumping, but it seems worth a shot if you want to try. I pumped in my car many times. I also pumped at work doing things like sitting on the bathroom floor or sitting behind a curtain (my job does not include any actual breaks). I pumped while commuting as well using the car adapter. I did not wash the pump parts after each session, just kept some of my cloth wipes in the bag to wipe things off when done.

In terms of "Stuff" in your life, I don't feel that pumping adds much more than formula, because suddenly you do have to remember to bring bottles and formula everywhere if you go that route anyway, with the pump, there are a lot of little parts but it's basically one bag. It's not at all fun and I did not enjoy it, but it's only a few months, and I felt good about doing it. Once I stopped feeling good about doing it and started actively despising it, I stopped.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 4:51 PM on February 22, 2014

ps I kept the milk in the shared fridge at work. The Medela pump in style bag comes with all these parts and includes a very benign looking little black zip-up cooler bag, I would just put the bottles in that and put it in the fridge. You could put two of the little Medela bottles in it, a little ice pack, and your own sandwich or whatever, and I bet it'd be no bigger than other people's lunches.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 4:54 PM on February 22, 2014

I'm sorry that I can't help with making your decision, I am able to pump 2-3 times per day in designated lactation rooms, but I have pumped in the car before when I was offsite for a meeting and it wasn't so great - the power cord does not provide as much energy to the motor, so it took a lot longer to get my normal amount of milk in the car than it would have in my office while plugged into a wall. Just something to think about since time is an issue for you.

But if you ARE able to pump at work (like if you can find a spot for it), and you want it to be quick, consider renting a hospital grade pump like the Medela Symphony and keeping it there. I was done in 15 minutes when I rented one, it was great!!

Either way, if you do decide to pump at work or in the car, a couple ideas that could help you logistically:

- The ice packs that came with my free medela pump (the one I got through insurance which is the same as the pump in style advanced) stay cold (COLD) from 7:30am - 10:00pm. I know this because there have been days when I forgot to put the milk in the fridge when I got home and it was still cold at 10pm. There have also been days when I left the pump with ice packs with milk in it in the car on a hot day and it was still cold several hours later. So on that front, you should be fine.

- Medela makes these wipes that you can use to clean off your pump parts so that you don't have to wash them between pumps. I have two days a week where I don't have great access to a kitchen and I use them then. Or you could do as someone above suggested and store the pumps in the fridge or with ice packs during the day so you don't have to wash them. Just keep one of the steam sterilizer bags in your fridge in case you drop one on the ground and need to get it clean fast.

I know I sound like an advertiser for Medela, but that's just all I've ever used. I'm sure there are other companies that make these things I just haven't used them.

All of that said, if you need to formula feed, that's fine too. I know lots of people who had to do that. I also know several people who did the nurse at home/formula at daycare combo. Do what's easiest for you and baby!
posted by echo0720 at 6:13 PM on February 22, 2014

I love that you are committed to breastfeeding. Are you tolerant of being obvious? They make tents for showers/potties, and a tent could be put up inside, providing privacy.

You can freeze a bottle of water, and use it to keep milk cool. Or you can pump for comfort if needed, and discard the milk, which feels rotten.

Yes, you can breastfeed in the morning and at night, and your baby can have formula at daycare. It might be less hassle than keeping your milk cool for daycare.
posted by theora55 at 12:14 AM on February 23, 2014

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