How to succeed with pumping as a resident:
I am an intern in a busy internal medicine program. I try to pump several times a day. At first, it was very challenging for me to balance pumping and being an intern. I hope I can shed some light on how it can be done and let other moms know that that I once struggled with it too. It is part of who I am now, but it took a lot of commitment and preservence. I know not all mothers choose to pump and not all mothers can pump, and that’s great too! This is how I do it. I will first say that I have an incredibly supportive residency program. I hope that is the case for all mommas wanting to pump.
1. Make it known that you have to pump. Be upfront about it with the chief residents, senior residents and your co-interns. This way, people don’t wonder where you are. You’d be surprised how many people are supportive of your need to pump. And impressed!
2. Plan your day accordingly. I would make sure to get a session in before rounds, during lunch conference and once or twice in the pm depending on the length of the work day. It requires a lot of planning but think ahead! There have been times when rounds starts earlier than expected, but some time pumping is better than no time!
3. Have a system. Efficiency is key. A handsfree clip on bra helps! A tote bag with a cooler and ice pack helps! Find what works best for you.
4. Have a safe space. A designated pumping room with an outlet, sink, chair, table is what you need. Find a way to get the environment you need. If your facility does not have a lactation or expression room, they really should! It is required by law. Check out mamava.com if you want to help your hospital get a pumping pod.
5. Support at home. My husband helps out so much with washing my pumping bottles and preparing our baby’s bottles for daycare every night. I couldn’t do it without him.
6. Prioritize pumping. There will be times you think you’re too busy to pump. Do it anyways. Figure out a way. You’d be surprised how you can squeeze it in the workday. You’ll be so glad you did it.
7. Try your best not to skip sessions because it can mess up your supply, cause engorgement and even mastitis. This may not be true for everyone, but it was true for me. After I got mastitis from missing pumping sessions, I knew I had to be more diligent about pumping every 3-4 hours.
8. Massage/squeeze during pumping! This helps prevent clogged ducts and really increases the flow.
9. Drink lots of water and carry snacks. You have to be well hydrated and well fed for a good milk supply. Also rest is key! Good rest is hard for an intern but the more rested you are the better the milk supply!
10. Be so proud of yourself. It is a huge accomplishment to be able to pump and be an intern! Some days you’ll have a bigger supply than other days but keep going! You’re a rockstar for doing this and your healthy baby will thank you!
11. Nights can be particularly hard but doable. When I was working nights, I was so exhausted, mainly because I was unable to sleep more than a few hours during the days because I was still pumping every 3 hours. It was very hard, no other way to say it. I even got mastitis then. I was fortunately allowed 2 sick days so I could heal from my mastitis. In addition to taking antibiotics, my trusted lactation consultant advised me to just keep on pumping even if the output is low and as soon as I recover, the milk supply will pick back up. And she was right!
If you’re also a pumping resident, please comment and let me know your experience!