The following is how one Working Pumping Mama, Leia, pumps her milk safely at work:
Okay…let’s be real…what’s going in in our world is scary…super scary…and if you’re someone whose job has been deemed “essential”, you’ll be braving it as a working, pumping mama…so what we need to do now is move carefully and safely in our work environments, and arm ourselves with knowledge. I am currently working and pumping, and would like to share some ways I try to pump safely while at work.
I have a designated corner in my laundry room (less of a traffic area) where I keep my pump and pump parts bag (a wet-dry bag). In the morning, I load my car, and head into work – I pump on the way to work, so I sanitize my hands prior to putting the pump on, and also before taking the pump off and putting milk into bottles/bags. I pack everything back into the pump bag and wet-dry bag, and head into my work building (which is so so tough these days, right?!).
I try to limit the number of surfaces these bags come into contact with – so I head straight to the fridge and drop off my wet-dry bag (with my pump parts) and milk storage cooler/bag. I try to store these in the back of the refrigerator, to minimize the number of hands that would need to potentially move my bags. I head to my work locker (which I sanitize at the end of every day and lock), and put my pump bag and work bag inside. If you are able to store your pump bag in a locker, then you can guarantee YOU are the only one touching your bag, and you’ll be performing good hand hygiene before grabbing your bag, right?
I pump during my lunch break, so I head to the staff break room, wash my hands, get my stuff from the fridge, and then head to my locker to get my pump bag (I have a small hand sanitizer in my pocket that I use anytime I touch anything (door handle, locker combination, etc.). Then, I head to the pumping room.
I am blessed to work in a place that has pumping rooms – supplied with a sink for hand-washing, gloves, disinfecting wipes, and wipeable surfaces (counter, chair, table). If you don’t you can bring hand sanitizer, gloves, and wipes with you (I realize these items are in high demand, so be creative if you need to (sandwich baggie on your hand – “fits like a glove!”).
Once in the room, I do not set any of my stuff down. First, I put on gloves, and a couple of disinfecting wipes, and start wiping – the table to set my stuff down on, the chair I’ll be sitting in, the door handle I will use to leave the room, the counter, my phone, etc. I get a few paper towels and lay them down on the table as a barrier, then set my pumping bag and pump parts bag on top of the paper towels. Wash hands.
I get set up: I plug my power cord into the wall and then into my pump (which I leave IN my bag), ensuring the cord only touches surfaces I have disinfected (chair, table). I open up my pump parts bag. My pump and parts are ready…now I need to get myself ready. I wear scrubs, so I consider any part exposed to the outside world as “dirty…First, I take the bottom corners of my scrub and bring them to my armpits (basically folding “dirty” to “dirty”, so facing outward is a “clean” surface), then I bring the bottom “clean” edge to meet my armpits (folding “clean” to “clean”), and I take my arms out of the armholes…it’s a process. ☺ I pull down my bra (leave on), and put on my hands-free pumping bra. Wash hands. Now I’m ready to pump!
While pumping, I try to relax (ha!), and since my kiddos are home, I try to call them and talk to them. ☺ It makes me happy.
After pumping, I disconnect myself. Wash hands (seeing a pattern? ☺). I pour milk into bottles/bags, then start disinfecting everything with wipes – my pump, the pump cord, the outside of the bags, chair, table (as I disinfect, I re-pack everything). The pump bag goes on my shoulder, and the paper towels go into the trash. Now, I can get back into the grind, knowing I did everything in my power to pump safely for my child, and also left a safe environment for the next mama.
My pump and parts bag go back into my locker (I don’t need the fridge at this point in my day, because I will either pump in 3 hours, or race home to nurse – so I don’t have to pump again at work).
When I arrive home in the afternoon, EVERYTHING gets dumped in a corner of the garage, and I strip down…clothes go directly into the washer and I head to the shower – this has proven to be the most difficult time of the day, as I desperately want to embrace my children, but know that I need to get cleaned up first…shower…hot, hot shower…PJs ☺, and now I’ve emerged as a mommy…who tries to now think about how she may have been exposed today to this virus…and might now potentially be infecting her husband and children by snuggling them…and then we settle into our routine…which is nice…dinner, bath, books, bed…and then the sanitizing begins…
I put gloves on and get 1-2 disinfecting wipes…then I get to work. I head to the garage, and sanitize each item…one at a time (my coffee cup, my work bag, my pump bag, pump parts/wet-dry bag, milk cooler)…and each one is brought inside and placed in the corner of my laundry room (mentioned initially).
My pump parts go directly to the sink (full of hot soapy water), my milk goes to the fridge/freezer, and I don’t touch/disturb anything else. After washing all pump parts and bottles, I sanitize them (either with microwave bags or boiling in a pot) EVERY night. It makes me feel better. ☺
Tip: I have 2 sets of pump parts, so as I’m sterilizing the used set, I take the parts which are sitting on the drying rack and put them together for the next day…these parts go into a gallon ziplock bag, which is then placed into my wet-dry bag. At the end of the day, when I dump my pump parts into the hot soapy water, I just throw the bag away. I realize this isn’t the “greenist” of options, but it provides me with another layer of protection during the day.
Good luck mamas! What you’re doing right now is so incredibly important!
Now is the time to follow strict pumping cleaning guidelines as published by the CDC. We may usually play fast and loose with how we wash our pump parts, but in the age of COVID-19, we mustn’t skip any steps.