I realized that I was basically MIA the entire time I was a nursing and working mom. Since that's a HUGE part of working mommy-hood, I thought I should share my experience!
I went back to work after 12 weeks at home on maternity leave. I pumped 4 times a day for about 9 months. As my son started nursing less and less as he approached his first birthday, I dropped down to pumping 3 times a day, then 2 times a day, and eventually once a day until he completed self-weaned.
It was hard. I mean, really hard. For a while there he was waking up to eat every three hours at night! At a certain point I would get up to nurse him at 4am and then just stayed up and went to work. I was exhausted for almost a year straight! (As any nursing mom can relate - not just working outside-the-home moms!)
A few random tips for other working moms from my personal experiences:
* Don't be shy. If you need to pump, let your manager know! Depending on your state and company size, chances are they have to provide you with time and a place pump. Now, your employer may not be required to pay you for your time spent pumping... keep that in mind. If a meeting is scheduled and you know you'll need to excuse yourself to pump in the middle, let your manager and/or meeting organizer know ahead of time.
* If your office uses shared calendars - schedule your pumping times on your calendar! That way you'll never have a meeting or call scheduled when you need to pump. I think part of the reason I was able to pump so long was that I was religous about my pumping schedule. I stuck to it!
* When traveling... If I had to drive to a client meeting I would plan to arrive early and park in a corner in a dark garage, or in another remote parking space, move into the backseat (where the windows are tinted), and pump before my meeting. Depending on the length of your meeting, you can do the same before you head home.
* When traveling... For client meetings that required a flight - this takes a lot more planning but it can work well. You CAN bring milk with you on the plan - breastmilk and formula are not held to the standard liquid restrictions. This is going to get long...
>I packed my pump bag as my carry-on.
>Pack frozen ice packs in your pump bag for the milk you will be pumping en route.
>Pump directly into storage bags, you can fit more in the little cooler in your bag.
>With your suitcase, also pack a small soft sided cooler with extra ice packs. As you pump during your trip, you can use that to store all the pumped milk for the trip home.
>I pumped in the airport bathrooms. They probably have a mothers room somewhere, but I was short on time. I hung the bag on the coat hook on the back of the door, and stood there and pumped. Bring your phone or have your watch accessible so you can keep an eye on the clock! (I like my phone, so I can have a slideshow of pictures of my son to watch while I pump.)
>Tuck a mini air freshener in your pump bag. I don't need to tell you why.
>Call ahead and make sure your hotel room will have a mini fridge & freezer. Most will have a mini fridge no problem. Sometimes the freezer is harder to get. If you can't get a mini freezer in your room - as the concierge to store your ice packs in the freezer in the kitchen overnight, then pick them up before you leave. (Note your name and room number on the packs, and be sure to be clear - you want them FROZEN.) One hotel manager kindly stored my ice packs in the fridge overnight. Did me a lot of good, as you can imagine :)
* Don't stress. You probably won't pump as much on the road as you would in your normal setting. Just the act of pumping alone is what you need. Any milk you store and bring home is just icing on the cake!
The biggest piece of advice I could give to another working mom who wants to pump would be to remember why you're here. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves... at the end of the day we're at work to provide for our families. Our families are what's most important. So keep that mentality about pumping. In my mind, pumping came first. My priority was to feed my child, and I had to put that first. That's not to say that I never stayed late or came in early, or had to postpone a pumping session for 30 minutes for a last-minute meeting. Pumping was my number one priority, but you still have to be flexible and reasonable.
And now for fun... as your child grows you will acquire a growing list in your head of places you have nursed or pumped. Here's mine!
1. At the mall.
2. At the car dealership.
3. In the car.
4. In the car... at a college football tailgate.
5. At a bachelorette party.
6. In various airport bathrooms.
7. In many restaurants.
8. At parties, holidays, and family functions.
9. In Vegas :)
10. At a client's office.