Monday, April 2, 2012

Five Ws and One H of Expressing Milk at the Workplace

100% Breastfed onesie from St. Patrick's infant line, gifted by Dad and his sweet kids

For the past seven months, Zohan has been 99% exclusively breastfed.  Roughly, such percentage is equivalent to five months of expressing milk at the office; thousands of pesos worth of storage milk bags; 20 ounces of spilled milk due to spoilage/too much rushing; 10 pieces of discarded papers after spilling milk on them; 765 cuss words uttered every time I spilled milk on something that always happened to be important; and 100% stress-level for this working mama.  On a good note, however, it also means 100% nutrition for the baby!

It isn't a walk in the park. To be honest, I have entertained thoughts of discontinuing breastfeeding my son because of the all the hassles that I have to go through.   Perhaps, the only respite I have is when I breastfeed at home where I could just whip out my boobie and let the feeding frenzy begin. But unfortunately, I have a job that can be overly demanding at times, and more often than not, gets in the way of my breastfeeding. (or vice versa).

But I have carried on. Let me tell you why, where, what, who, when, and how.

1.) WHY?

..because I have no choice. I want to breastfeed him, but I have a job that I can't give up. I can't bring him along to the office everyday, so I have to express milk at the workplace.

I guess the bigger question is, why do I breastfeed? I know the internet/your pediatrician/your friends are bursting with all the right reasons why every mother should at the very least try to breastfeed. And I won't bother to repeat them because for sure, they know better than I do. I have my personal reasons why I do, apart from all that nutritional stuffs. And that is - breastfeeding makes me feel closer to my son. 

I can't make Zohan laugh and giggle as much as the husband.  I get impatient and tired emitting all those sounds that make him laugh. But after they play, the little boy would run to me (okay, not run) to nurse, and when he's latched on my bossom, time and space disappear so suddenly.  I would give this really proud, high-chin look to the husband, as if to say, Okay, your time's up mister. My turn to be loved. Sometimes, I say that out loud. Oftentimes, a bitcher version of that. 


Where do I pump? 
One of the things that make it really convenient for me is the fact that I have a room in the office all to myself. I just lock it up when it's time to express milk, and my secretary already knows the default response when somebody knocks at my door: nagpapump po. 

Where do I store?
Thank God for the home-y feel of our office, it is not uncomfortable for me to store my expressed milk at the refrigerator. In fact, my officemates are amazed at how much I could collect in a day. (When Zohan was still with my in-laws, I had a week's supply of breastmilk stored in our office refrigerator. Every Friday was inventory time! I would put all my milk in a big cooler full of ice packs, ready for the travel home.) But now that Zohan is here with us in Makati, I only store the day's collection in the refrigerator. At the end of the day, I just put the expressed milk in my Avent's insulated bag. 

3. WHAT?

What are the essentials? Please bear with me because there are a lot. Below is the photo of the bag that I carry with me wherever I go - to a court hearing, to a government office, to the office - 

Let's do a bag raid:
I carry this bag to the office everyday!
Light brown small bag for the pumping kit, 
Avent insulated bag for the Avent Via collection cups, 
Cloth bag for the milk-collecting bottle, and adaptor for the electric pumping kit
Photo source

Of course, one has to have a reliable pump. I made a simple review of the pumps that I have tried before coming up with the one that works best for me. You can read about it here. But if you don't have the time and patience, I will say it anyway. I swear by Ameda Purely Yours Double Electric Pump. A little pricey, but definitely worth it. 

For storage, I previously used disposable milkbags because I had to store a week's collection of milk. I have tried Ainon and Precious Moments, which are commercially sold at the mall. I also tried Spectra, which I ordered online from I must say, all of them are good to use, but I like Ainon best - it's sturdy and spacious enough to store large quantities of milk. But now, since I can bring home the expressed milk everyday, I don't need too many storage bags. I'm using Avent Via cups, which I can wash and use over and over again. Pretty neat!

Photo Source

Since travel time from work to home is not as awful as it used to be, I've done away with ice packs and coolers, in exchange for my awesome Avent insulated bag. Thank you Nanay for the insulated bag!

4. WHO?

I realized when I was already writing this up that the Who question is a little out of sync in this topic. But if I think hard and deep, I would have to admit that the bigger person who deserves the "who" spot is the husband. So let's give him his 5-second-fame because really, it would be so much difficult without someone who would drop the pump bag to my office when I need to go straight to a hearing first; bring home my expressed milk when I need to stay overtime at the office; carry the pump bag when we walk home most weekdays; and  be just a staunch ally in this endeavor that I embarked on. Thank you! Your time's up!

5. WHEN?

I express milk first thing in the morning (or before I leave the house if I wake up early) before starting with work because a lot of  of a lawyer's deskwork require "in-the-zone" moments. That way, I do not get interrupted by my pumping schedule the moment that I am already basked in my combative mood. After I have completed a substantial amount of work in the morning, I'm off to lunch. I do not have the luxury of time to overstay at the coffee room for chika with my officemates, because I have some milk-expressing to do. So after taking my lunch, I head back to my room again and set-up my paraphernalia. The next milk-expressing schedule would be after merienda, and the last for the day would be before going home. I try to express milk at least 3 to 5 times a day in the office. My schedule is actually a little counter-productive, but it is the most practical timing that I can come up with. 

6. HOW?

Of course, I don't need to tell you how I express milk. (No mental image please.We're dealing with the sustenance of a child here, for Christ's sake!) But how do I manage to do it? Here are a few tips:

1. Dedication. Self-explanatory. If you do not set your heart and mind to it, laziness could really win you over.

2. Do not think of formula - or else, one will have the tendency to miss out a pumping schedule since there's something to supplement anyway. If you are doing it, might as well give your all. No retreat, no surrender!

3. Think of the benefits - and you will most likely agree that it far outweighs the disadvantages. For that alone, I get renewed strength to stop what I'm doing and set-up my pumping gears. 

4. Be proud of what you do - When you are giving your baby the best food there is, what is there not to be proud of? 

I knew that a lot of times I looked like a tired and stressed mother heavily laden by my pumping bag walking around aimlessly under the scorching heat of the sun. Those days I wished that I need not bring all those things with me (We hardly bring our car to work, that's why I always look like an eloping teenage girl with all the bags I carry every day.)

I knew that a lot of times the pleading that I was drafting had to be filed that same day and I could use every freaking hour to finish it. Those days I wished I need not spare extra time to express milk.

I knew a lot of times I could really use a good conversation with friends from the office - to rant or to ask about their cases or to just blabber nonsense and laugh out loud. Those days I wished I could stay longer for lunch instead of heading straight to my room after chewing on my last morsel of meat.

But I also knew that I was doing everything for my son, so I had to carry on.   After all, he would only need my sacrifice for a year or so, not for a lifetime. And I could never get these days back once I let them slipped by. So yes, I express milk at the office. And I'm extremely proud of it. 


  1. Haha! i love the "Why" part. That's very true. Sometimes I get very naughty that when my baby is looking at me then at his Dad as if choosing where to go, I pop out my b--- and say "Anong pipiliin mo? Sige nga sige nga..." At walang mintis, sa akin sha pupunta kahit busog sha.

    As for milk expressing schedules, iba tayo. sinasabayan ko kasi yung feeding ng baby so at most every 3 hours. But now, I only do it once a day. I nurse him at 8:30 before I leave for office. He will eat at lunch at 11:30, he will have his expressed milk at 2:30 (at this time I'm in office, expressing milk), he will have an early dinner at 5:30 then the next milk will be with me again at 8:30 pm. And of course, the rest of the night will be bf. Naisip ko lang i-share just to let you know that you can also reduce your sessions at this time since Zohan appears to be steady with his solids now. :D

  2. Thank you ha, you have no idea how relieved that made me feel. Kasi lately ang dami na ng expressed milk ko na hindi nya nate-take, I was worried na hindi na sya malakas magmilk. I know that magdedecline talaga once he starts on solid but I have no idea up to what extent.. But now, based on your comment it seems na once a day lang talaga nag - eexpressed milk ang baby mo? So it's perfectly normal na madami talagang expressed milk na hindi macoconsume, coz I was probably making more than what he needs.

    Oh, and on the why part! Hahaha! I can imagine what you're saying and I do that a lot, too!

  3. Yup. Once a day na lang sha on expressed milk. Though I leave 2-3 bottles to be sure. :D Minsan kasi humihirit pa ng extra.

  4. I love this post, can totally relate. I pumped for 1 year for my older son and I intend to do the same with my baby boy who is almost 10 mths. Two more mths I can't wait ! Lol. After I stop I will give him my frozen breastmilk. Somedays it is frustrating and annoying but I just think of why I'm doing this and I forget about it and continue on pumping. My baby takes 3 expressed milk and I feed him before work in a 24 hour period,3 solids, and 2 snacks. I pump 4x a day but I think will cut down because I think I am making too much abd the freezer is full. Keep pumping mommies! Lily

    1. Thank you Lily. My son's pedia recently advised us that we can start giving him snacks also. I guess maka-cut down na talaga ang milk consumption nila =) Thanks for dropping by!

  5. I applaud you for having patience to pump! I tried it last week but I wasn't too successful in the waiting part.

    "...I would give this really proud, high-chin look to the husband, as if to say, Okay, your time's up mister. My turn to be loved. Sometimes, I say that out loud. Oftentimes, a bitcher version of that." - I like this part best! Haha!

  6. It's really difficult to breastfeed while you are working in an office. The good part is that it won't last long (I mean it'll have to end soon right?!?! :)) and of course, you do what will keep you sane. :) If that means switching to formula feeding then so be it. Mommy's sanity is so important.

    1. Thank you anne. That's what I keep on thinking pag nahihirapan ako, that it won't last long and it will have to end at some point. So now I'm doing the best I can =)

  7. Your post made me reminisce my "pumping session" (that is how my officemates called it hehehe) at the office during the time I breastfeed my eldest. But unlike you, I don't have my own private office. I expressed my milk in one of the conference room :D. I also took them home every day. I have a small cooler which I bring whenever I report to the office. We also have a mini-ref in the office where I temporarily store the milk I expressed.

    Kapag gusto talaga may paraan at pag ayaw maraming dahilan :D

    But two thumbs up for you kasi hindi naman ganyan ka-hectic ang schedule ko and I only report to the office twice a week :)

    1. Ditto! Kapag gusto may paraan, pag ayaw maraming dahilan :)

      Good for you that you only report to the office twice a week. I would love to trade places with you. haha! It is so much better to breastfeed directly at the comfort of home!

  8. I also pump at the office but I still have issues with my milk supply. You're lucky you can store milk at the office for a week and still have enough stored at home! I'm almost at 7 months breastfeeding my baby but not without help to boost my supply (except for that week of formula once a day during my 4th month when I was trying to increase my supply). I guess I'm not as "milky" as others... Congrats!

  9. I stumbled upon your post while Googling Ainon insulated bags. And boy, am I glad to have found it! It was written with much wit and humor, made me laugh after a really hapless, lousy day. Laughed out loud upon reading "Thank you! Your time's up!" on the WHO section (Still snickering quite a bit now).

    Your dedication to breastfeeding is extremely admirable. I have been direct feeding ze "little dictator" 99% of the time for the past 7 months now, and even that is already tiring in itself. So kudos to you bringing all those gadgets to work and sticking to your guns about zero formula. Way to go, momma!


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