We love sharing breastfeeding advice to moms so we are in love with Jessica Shortall’s hilarious new book “Work. Pump. Repeat.” Jessica is a working mother of two who has literally circumnavigating the globe with a breast pump.
She had both of her babies while working as the first Director of Giving for TOMS Shoes, so she’s pumped in storage closets, moving cars, airplanes, hotels, conference rooms, bathrooms... and in a parked car in a field in rural Nepal.
She wrote her book – Work. Pump. Repeat: The New Mom’s Survival Guide to Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work – because she couldn’t believe that there wasn’t a practical, relatable, no-judgment book to support, laugh with, and cry with the millions of women who go back to work, every year, while attempting to continue breastfeeding.
Jessica interviewed hundreds of working moms to figure out their war stories, hacks, solutions, successes, and even failures.
The result is a book that insists that “your worth as a mother is not measured in ounces,” but that equips women with the tools – and the moral support – to give the craziness of working and pumping a shot.
Read an excerpt from Jessica Shortall’s book, the chapter is entitled “Pumping in Strange Places.”
I talked with dozens of women who use their cars to pump—on the commute, during the workday, or en route to client meetings—and they shared tricks that will make this experience much easier.
Pumping in a car can make you feel very exposed. If you’re pumping while driving (PWD), you need a good pumping bra and “hooter hider.”
If you’re parked, use a sunshade on the windshield. For windows, crack the window, stuff a blanket in the crack, and roll the window back up for makeshift curtains.
Some pumps have power adapters for cars, but the power from your car can sometimes be erratic. You might decide just to stick with a battery pack.
Serious disclaimer: Pumping While Driving (PWD) can be dangerous if not done carefully. No amount of breastmilk is worth an accident. Follow all traffic laws!
There are some great upsides to PWD. First, you get more productive time at work because you don’t have to pump right when you get there. Second, some women actually find this to be the most relaxing time to pump.
Obviously, there are logistical challenges to making this work. It works best if your pumping bottles are resting on your legs, so first, get bigger pump bottles. For example, Medela pumps come with 6-ounce (180-ml) bottles, but they also sell 8-ounce (240-ml) bottles, which are tall enough to rest on your thighs while you PWD.
Play around with seat positioning, which can impact your physical comfort and stability as well as how visible you feel.
Try leaning your seat back or forward more than you’re used to.
Sometimes, moving the seat forward can make your knees bend more deeply, meaning your thighs are higher up, which might give you a better surface to rest those bottles on.
You need to start the pumping process before you start driving.
Before you even turn the car on, make sure both cup holders are empty, put a towel on your lap, assemble your pump (with bottles—never bags in this setting), and get the horns into your bra.
Make sure everything is secured tightly: The horns/flanges have to be really “in there” in case you get jostled, and the tubes have to be really well plugged in.
The tubes also have to be situated so any arm movements won’t rip them out of their sockets. Put breast pads inside your bra, just below each horn, in case of leakage.
Cover yourself with your nursing cover, and start the car.
If your drive is long enough that you’ll need to stop pumping mid-drive, make sure you have very easy arm’s reach to the plug or the “off” button on the pump, or pull over to turn it off.
If you have to keep driving, you could drive onward with the pump parts hanging off your boobs.
Basically if you’re pumping while driving, you have said good-bye to your modesty and your coolness, anyway. You can pull over and get the milk into a cooler.
But if you won’t be driving for hours on end, leaving the milk at car temperature is fine until you get to a fridge, so put the bottles in the cup holders and drive on.
If you have a job that keeps you on the road a lot and you don’t like the PWD option, do some creative mapping ahead of time.
Get familiar with the location of all the Babies “R” Us locations and any maternity stores in your area.
Those folks will usually let you pump in the store. Learn where the more private roadside pull-offs, scenic overlooks, and parking garages are located.
Figure out which stores have those wonderful family restrooms (often with an electrical outlet) that you can lock yourself in. And be prepared to PWD, just in case.
So... go forth, working mama. Pump your milk in strange places. Get mad about it if you need to.
Text your girlfriends while it’s happening (as long as you’re not driving!) to share in your misery.
Remember that you’re doing this for your kid, and the thought of that little person just might get you through until you’re home, holding that baby (and/or a glass of wine), and remembering why you put yourself through such craziness.
Dying to read more from Jessica? Work. Pump. Repeat. is on sale online and in bookstores – buy this book now.