So I have been back at work for four months. This means that I have been pumping at work for four months now. Everybody say HURRAH.

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I actually heaved a great sigh of relief when we crossed the six-month mark and my little man embarked on solids. It meant that I could relax a little and not feel so stressed about pumping enough milk to feed Zac, now that he has other sources of food to fill that Buddha belly of his.

As most working mums who express at work will tell you, their relationship with the pump is a complex, bittersweet one. I am glad that the pump exists to allow me to feed breast milk to my kid and yet at the same time, I can’t help but feel chained to it. Carving out the time to pump at work two, three times a day is a feat, especially when my schedule is erratic.

But at the same time, there are many things that I am grateful for: a cubicle with relative privacy that allows me to pump in peace, colleagues who are understanding. I am able to install a makeshift curtain, draw it and pump at my desk while working at the same time, which makes me feel less guilty about needing to pump three times a day. I can also sit and let the pump run for as long as I want, while getting stuff done.

I was able to pump milk for Aidan all the way till he was a year old, before transitioning him slowly to fresh milk and I am hoping to do the same for Zac. Fingers crossed!

If you are someone who is planning to express at work, here are some tips that may be helpful to you.

Get a good, hospital-grade pump
There are a few affordable ones out in the market and we have even done the research for you! I’m currently using the Spectra S1 at the office and I really like it.

Invest in a handsfree system
It isn’t necessary have to be a handsfree pump – I have been using the Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra and it works pretty well. If you are all about being economical as I was, with Zac being my last baby and all, you can always get a preloved one from the various forums.

Sterilise on the go
I’m quite a stickler for hygiene and I always make sure that I have sterilising options at my desk. I have a box of Munchkin microwave steriliser bags for times when I need to nuke the pump parts – they are affordable and easy to store. And before every pump, I make sure that I sterilise my hands with SafeHands hand sanitiser. I like that it contains no alcohol (my hands are dry enough!) and it is touted to kill 99.99% of germs. Plus, it doesn’t smell weird!

Get a back-up pump
Shit happens. Pumps die. You don’t want to be caught with a broken pump when your boobs are filled with milk. I was lucky enough to be gifted a Pigeon Electric Breast Pump Portable and it’s been a godsend. The Spectra S1 is pretty bulky and it’s a hassle bringing it to and fro home. So I leave the S1 in the office and use the Pigeon pump at home. It’s really easy to use, I haven’t had the need to refer to the manual once. It’s quiet, so much so that I can pump while watching TV without the engine deafening me. Plus, it is very compact and ergonomic. All in all, it’s been a great secondary pump for me.

Drink up
I have a 2l bottle in office and I make sure to fill it up every single morning. That’s my daily goal for the day at work and the bottle is a great visual reminder for me to down my water.

Get help
Ever since my last brush with mastitis, the supply from my usually voluminous side has dropped by half. On some days, when the yield isn’t too great, I turn to supplements. I find that Motherlove’s More Milk Plus is excellent at increasing my output, although I try not to take more than two capsules a day. At the same time, I sometimes add in a spoonful of brewer’s yeast into my milo and drink at least a cup of nursing tea a day. Whether these work or not, I don’t know. But it certainly can’t hurt!

Don’t take yourself too seriously
Every time I draw the curtains to my cubicle, my colleagues know I mean business. Sometimes, they will yell my name if they are looking for me, and I yell back that I am busy making lunch for my baby. Yes, I have no qualms letting everyone know that I am expressing milk – it’s a biological function! I think when you can take it lightly, it makes pumping less of a chore.

If you have any tips to share, I would love to know!

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