Monday, October 21, 2013

Feeding the baby part 3: travelog

Continued from parts 1 and 2, here is pumping part 3: oh man I dislike pumping

I was out of town for a week (all alone) so I got to manage pumping and being away from the baby and then transport back of all the milk. Here's how it worked out.

First I attempted to replace my crappy pump that seems to be dwindling in ability to function. Due to some insurance mumbo jumbo gone wrong the pump arrived Monday when I left Saturday and since I was in a rural area with no UPS, there was no shipping me the replacement. I think the problem may be that I need to replace my squishy parts but this didn't dawn on me until it was too late to get the parts.

I attempted to pump 4 times a day while I was away but actually I hit only 3 times a day each day. It seems to have worked out all right. My supply isn't back up to pre-baby-free time levels after 3 days of nursing lots but it seems to be adequate enough for her tastes. It also helps that this week was one where her solid intake cranked up like crazy so there are many demands for more solids from Little Monster. For comparison, she had been nursing 5 minutes at a maximum and with lots of choking and howling breaks before and now she's nursing more like 7 minutes with some breaks to look around and be distracted. The choking is gone and that's great from my perspective. She's also eating about the same number of times a day as before just with that little bit longer duration.

As far as storage and transport goes, this took some consideration. I brought 2 sets of pumping flanges,1 pair of 9 oz bottles, 1 pair of 5 oz bottles, and a box of 50 milk bags along with. I flew (a couple hour flight I think? Time zones always throw me off) and then drove another 5 hours out to the week's location. Because of cost I needed to have no checked luggage going out so I could afford to check one bag coming back and have the cooler as my other carry-on. I packed a soft-sided cooler in my suitcase's laptop pocket (this one) and bought a couple of ice packs on arrival because it was about 14 hours minimum from departure to getting home and the cooler was rated for about 10 hours' cold time with no ice. I also selected a soft-sided cooler because it was light. Hauling a bunch of milk around isn't light and I didn't want to add a couple pounds of cooler if I didn't need it. I brought home about 100 oz of milk in 5-6 oz portioned bags plus one bottle from the morning I left. It actually took us more like 18 hours to get home from the time the milk left the fridge. It was all still pretty close to fridge temp coming out of the cooler so I highly recommend that cooler (no, it isn't an affiliate link or anything and I paid for my cooler but I love it). It was large enough that my pump flanges and cover went in the bag with the milk as I was low on space, yet it was small enough to easily fit under the plane seat. The handle was really comfy for hauling it around airports too which was a great thing. I'm using this cooler for any future tailgating!

The bags were kept in the fridge during the week because fresh milk can tolerate temperature variations while frozen stuff is no good if it thaws, and because my host had very little freezer space. They got deep frozen this morning because that's when I realized I'd better do it so the oldest milk is at the high end on storage at about 9 days but is likely to be fine. I'm not opening it to check its freshness though!

The most annoying thing was to shadow in the hospital, hear that they like to support moms nursing, and then discover that the hospital doesn't rent or sell electric pumps, only single hand pumps and you have to see a doctor to get one. Um, what? I mean it is an area where not everyone has a fridge at home but for all the moms who work (most of them at that hospital) how discouraging to have to drive 3 hours to buy a pump or have one mailed and have much the same fiasco with mail order that I did, plus the extra time to use the post office. UGH. They also don't have a lactation consultant on staff either. Support? Hmm... maybe not so much.

It was also pretty funny how uncomfortable the whole thing made my female professor who was in charge of our trip. She didn't even want to say the word "pump" out loud. Hah. Having now nursed two babies for a total of 21 months, nothing phases me. On the way out after we left the airport I pumped in the car with my fellow students arguing about the radio station the entire half hour. No big deal. Big thanks to Josie for lending me a nursing cover so I could pump wherever. I am awful at using a cover and am thrilled I probably won't have to do it again (maybe ever).

Now I'm off to clean the new pump parts so I can try the thing out. Maybe. Or maybe I'll just use the new collection kit with the old pump.


  1. This is super helpful to read about. I checked out that cooler when you mentioned it last time - I think I just might have to buy it since it can double as a tailgaiting cooler as well :)

    I didn't know milk could keep in the fridge that long - I thought it was like 3 days or something? could I have already forgotten that stuff.

    So nice you didn't have to pump & dump that many ounces - I would have cried!!

    1. I think the recommendation is 3-7 days of fridge storage is safe, but I think I read somewhere that excursions to 10 days might be OK for a full term healthy baby. It looks a little weird frozen so that days' milk may get chucked when it's defrosted.

      The cooler way exceeded my expectations. It was very cool in there, so cold I didn't want to touch the milk bare-handed and had to take a break moving it to the fridge.

  2. Wow, I am so impressed. Good for you for being so organized with this and managing to pump AND bring all of that milk home with you instead of having to waste it while pumping away from home. That is awesome!