Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How to Pump at BlogHer - a Guide for Breastfeeding Mothers

Outside of actually leaving my babies, my number one concern for attending the BlogHer conference was the fact that I'd very much still be a nursing mother {only without my baby present} at the conference.

I first did what any blogging mama does - and checked the internet.

Sadly, I wasn't able to find ANY posts from mothers who had attended the BlogHer conference and pumped their milk throughout while away from their babes.  Since I didn't have very many resources before the conference, I wanted to make sure I posted about my experiences after the conference in case there would be a mama or two teetering on whether or not to go based on having to pump.

Go.  Seriously.  It's worth it!

After going to the conference and pumping throughout {my littlest baby and only current nursling was 7 months old at the time}, I'd highly recommend it.  While stopping every few hours was annoying and the morning engorgement after actually sleeping through the night was somewhat, um, uncomfortable - what I gained from the conference completely made up for it.  So, just to help out anyone on the fence - here are my tips on how to make it work as a pumping mum during the conference.

How to pump or breastfeed at BlogHer

1. Prep beforehand!

Whether you'll pump and save up a freezer stash, swap to formula, or a little of both - be sure to prepare in advance.  I had quite a large freezer stash already, so I didn't have to pump any more than the one time per day I already do normally.  If you don't pump and want to feed your child your milk while you're going -  you will have to pump for a while in advance to build your stash.  I was gone from Wednesday midday until Sunday late afternoon.  During that time, Little Lady took about 120 ounces of milk from my freezer stash.

Little Lady is typically used to taking a bottle from DH while I work the weekends, but if your child isn't accustomed to taking a bottle you will want to be sure and practice bottle feeding beginning at least a week or two before the conference to make sure they will take to the bottle!

2. Gather your equipment and make a checklist for when you leave.

Since I was driving, all of my breastfeeding/pumping equipment was stored in the trunk of my car, just about doubling my load of stuff.  I brought with me: a cooler, the pump/parts, a box of milk storage bags, a permanent marker, easy clean pump part wipes, a microwave sterilization bag {which I didn't end up using because I couldn't find a microwave while at the conference}, extra bottles and caps for my pump, and an insulated bottle bag to keep my milk in when I wasn't pumping in the room.

How to pump or breastfeed at BlogHer

{Since breastmilk can stay out at room temperature for up to six hours, there were a few occasions where I pumped in a friend's hotel room or other room and put the milk into my bottle bag until I was able to get back to my room 3 hours later for my next pumping session.}

3.  Check out your resources.

BlogHer has an official "Lactation Lounge" at the conference every year where nursing moms can pump.  This year, the lounge was located just a few doors away from some of the conference sessions, so the location of the room was ideal.  However, when you entered the room, it was basically just a very dimly lit {after a friend and I turned the lights on, as it was completely dark in there when we entered} room with a few couches and two refrigerators.

How to pump or breastfeed at BlogHer

While I am really thankful for the lactation lounge, in the future, it would be amazing if BlogHer could schnazz it up just a little bit to make it more comfortable for their nursing mothers.  My recommendations would be to put the lactation lounge somewhere with a sink {that isn't a bathroom!} to wash the pump parts with access to a microwave in case of need to steam sanitize pump parts, paper towels, & tables next to the couches so you don't have to set your pump/parts on the floor while setting up.  My pumping friend and I ended up taking our supplies and walking back over to the bathroom to wash our pump pieces before the next session, and it would have been awesome to be able to do that in the same room.  Just a few simple changes may make it feel a little more comfortable for nursing mothers, especially since being away from their small babes is hard enough.

4.  Decide what you'll do with your milk.

As I mentioned, I drove to the conference - so I was able to just pack my milk back up in my cooler full of ice and transport it back home.  However, not all mothers are local and driving.  If you do decide to bring your milk back with you on a plane, you may check on KellyMom or La Leche League for specific guidelines - although I do know that you can either carry-on or check breastmilk in quantities larger than 3 ounces, but you have to declare it for inspection prior to getting on your flight.  I've also heard that a cooler with dry ice does the trick for breastmilk in flight as well.

How to pump or breastfeed at BlogHer
My milk - getting ready for it's trip home!
If you decide that it is just too much of a hassle to bring your milk home - please do not just pump and dump!!!  There are very likely many moms in the host city who are in need of breastmilk for their babes!  My friend MJ did not need to bring her milk home from BlogHer this year and found a mother/baby dyad to donate to prior to leaving Chicago.  A few resources to check out are Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Eats on Feets, which are both breastmilk sharing networks.

*In case you're wondering, the World Health Organization recommends expressed donor milk as the next best option after the baby's own mother's milk either while at the breast or when expressed.

Personally, while I found pumping at the conference to be mildly frustrating {as I'd always be somewhere and my phone alarm would be going off telling me I needed to pump}, I found it to be easy to work into my schedule.  Breaks and meals were often throughout the day and even though pumping did take away some of my Expo Hall time, I was still able to fit in everything I wanted to do even while stepping away to pump every few hours.

Would you ever consider pumping at BlogHer?  Any tips you'd recommend if you've pumped at the conference?

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4 comments:

  1. First I am way impressed with the amount of milk you pumped while you were in Chicago. It took me like four days to pump one of those bags full. Second -- since I am not lactating I didn't venture into the lactation lounge, however I totally agree that it would be nice to not have to set your pump on the floor and be able to wash your pump parts. Especially since those bathrooms were very busy a lot of the day and that means a lot of people and a lot of germs etc.

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    Replies
    1. I tend to be a chronic over producer :-/ And yes - a table would have been fantastic!

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  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! Hopefully if there is anyone looking to pump next year who is unsure, there will actually be more information out there! I couldn't find anything when I was looking to go this year in advance.

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