Even when you have a cooperative work (legally they have to be!) you are going to need some additional things to express while at work. This was all new to me but after a month I think I've got a good system worked out. Here are the products that make breastfeeding and being a working mom work for me.
First and foremost my Medela Freestyle Double Breast Pump. I literally could not be back at work with out it. Since I'm separated from Baby Girl while I'm at work I need to express to remind my body to keep producing milk and so she can have milk to drink when I'm not around. The Freestyle is small and compact with a rechargeable battery and comes with a complete set for the storage, cooling and transport of breastmilk. The 2-Phase Expression Technology is based on the natural sucking rhythm of the baby: Short, stimulating patterns are followed by longer ones, ensuring an optimal milkflow. Its faster let-down and maximum milkflow reduces pumping time significantly and you can express more milk in less time.
I've used the pump now at home, at work and even on a train. The Freestyle comes with a specially shaped freezer pack that will keep breastmilk cold while you are travelling. The bottles are BPA-free and can be used to store milk with the provided lids or with the Calma teat to feed your baby.
This is the only breast pump I have ever used but is the only one I'd want to use. You can adjust the suction to the strength that works best for you and it holds a charge for a really long time. I didn't need to charge it while I was away for a day for work in London and I only really need to charge it once a week when I'm using it at work. I've had so many friends complain about their breast pumps but I couldn't be happier with the Freestyle. If you are going to be expressing on a regular basis I really suggest the Freestyle as it's sturdy and reliable.
Also it's worth noting that Medela's customer services team are amazing. If your pump malfunctions or a part breaks they are quick to help you sort out the problem or provide you with a new pump part as needed. Considering it's an essential (and expensive) bit of kit it is great to know they have you covered.
With my Freestyle I use a Simple Wishes hands free pumping bra. My best-friend recommended this pumping bra to me and I'm so glad she did. It means I don't have to hold the pump and can check emails and use my hands while I'm pumping. It has a velcro back and an extra zipper panel so it will fit any size. I was a bit dubious since I'm a 34J (I know it's ridiculous) and my friend is a 36B but it really is adjustable. It's not something you'd wear all day long but it makes such a huge difference when you are expressing two to three times a day. I personally can barely sit still staring into nothing for 2 minutes let alone 15-20 and it really helps that I can read work articles or check emails, too. I like it so much I got one for my sister who just had twins, too.
Once I'm done expressing I need the wash everything so I'm ready to go again later in the day. I got a large tupperware box from TK Maxx which has been invaluable. It is how I store and transport my pump parts, but is also what I wash them in. No offense to my office mates but I'm not really comfortable washing pump parts with everyone's dirty plates. I fill up the tupperware box with soap and water and then use a bottle brush I also got at TK Maxx and keep in my mini-fridge. I put paper towels on the lid of the box and set parts out the dry and then dry out the box and put everything back in. Parts then go in the fridge (a tip my BFF taught me again so you don't have to sterilize at work) and are good to go for your next session. I was able to wash my bottles and parts on the train down to London using the same technique--it's a sink and storage box in one.
Most days I wear my "normal" bras to work but if I know I'm going to be going straight to get Baby Girl and will need to feed her I wear the Anita Underwire Nursing Bra. As I mentioned before I'm up to a 34J so traditional nursing bras don't provide the support I really need. I have a really comfy Bravado bra I wear to sleep in at night, but it doesn't provide a very flattering shape. The Anita gives me the support I need but also means I can easily feed Baby Girl in public. I really struggled to find an underwire nursing bra so I was happy to learn about Anita.
Finally I have to mention Freida's Pantry Feeding Food bars. Needless to say working full time with a 5 year old and 4 month old can be a bit stressful. Depending on what my week is like my supply has suffered. I've had friends who bake cookies that up your supply or make special oatmeal but honestly I just don't have the time. Luckily Freida's Pantry make bars that not only increase your milk supply but are easy to toss in your bag and eat on the go. When I read the ingredients and I saw fennel I honestly thought I'd hate the bars but they are actually quite tasty and most importantly they work! I've been lucky to have a fairly good supply but the bars have helped me keep that up even when I'm stressed and busy.
I've only had one problem breastfeeding while working (more on that in another post) and I really think that is down to having a good system in place. I'm grateful to my BFF for her recommendations and tips as well as having a pump that works efficiently and effortlessly. Did you breastfeed while working? What are your top tips?