Pumping in a Cubicle: Tips for Making it Work

Office jobs make for some of the most successful scenarios for mothers to pump their milk for their babies, especially if women have an office with a door they can close and lock.

But really, most women working in offices actually work in a cubicle that does not offer much privacy. Many large offices have lactation rooms mothers can use–unfortunately, these often book up quickly or else involve a long travel time from desk row of office cubiclesto door.

Here’s a collection of tips from real moms who have pumped from their cubicles around western PA.

  • Use a nursing coverReal mom Janine was able to pump whenever she felt full by using a nursing cover and just staying at her desk.
  • Christy M had a lactation room available at her job, but it was located in an attic and she didn’t have the time or desire to climb up there to pump. She used a sheet with clips to block off her cubicle and kept working while pumping.
  • Invest in a rechargeable battery pack. Ginny K points out that there aren’t always outlets to spare, plus the long power cord that comes with the pump sometimes drags on the ground, which can bring grody floor grime back into your bag when you pack up all your parts.
  • Charlotte Y points out that if the office can’t be trusted not to steal your lunch, they certainly can’t be trusted to leave your milk alone (hey what’s this…hey, this makes my coffee taste terrible…). She invested in a micro fridge to keep at her desk to keep pump parts and milk cold. No room or spare outlet for a fridge? Make sure to invest in a roomy cooler with space for ample ice and multiple bottles!

Did you pump in an office setting? Leave us a comment to share your best tips for other moms!

Image by Dennis Matheson via Flickr.


Birth Plan for a Planned Cesarean

Many pregnant mothers are facing a planned (also called “scheduled”) cesarean section, but don’t know that they can and should develop a birth plan just the same as women anticipating a vaginal delivery!

Each hospital, each surgeon, and each anesthesiology team will have a different status quo, a different “standard” way they do a cesarean. This might not match with a mother’s expectations and wishes for her birthcesarean delivery

From attending and leading my local chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN), I learned that there are many options for a beautiful cesarean delivery. Lots of times, hospital staff just do certain things because that’s how they always do it–there might not be an official policy surrounding certain aspects of a cesarean. A mother can discuss these options with her surgeon prior to delivery to build a plan that meets everyones needs for a beautiful birthing experience.

Here are some options moms have discussed with their surgical team at prenatal visits:

Prior to Delivery

  • birth partner remain with mom for support while spinal is placed
  • surgical drape placed low on the chest to leave space for skin-to-skin contact if baby is healthy
  • blood pressure cuff placed on mom’s wrist (versus upper arm) for more arm mobility
  • unrestrained arms during the procedure with the option of a strap to squeeze if mom needs to stabilize due to shaking
  • oxygen for mom via nasal cannula versus a face mask
  • surgical drape lowered while baby is delivered so family can witness baby’s birth
  • surgeon holds baby up for parents to see and identify the sex
  • doula or support person in the room to take pictures so birth partner can support mom and baby
  • music of mother’s choice playing in the operating room (or over headphones for mom)

After Delivery

  • removal of nasal cannula once baby is delivered
  • delayed cord clamping as long as is safe for mom and baby
  • everyone sings “happy birthday” to baby!
  • surgeon leaves a long umbilical cord for birth partner to trim (just like a partner might snip the cord after a vaginal delivery)
  • OR team only minimally wipes baby and places him on mom’s chest
  • delay non-essential examinations or newborn procedures (like weighing, measuring, bathing, etc.) until mom is in the recovery room
  • as soon as baby is stable, bring baby to mom and partner to hold and bond
  • if skin-to-skin is not an option for mom, allow birth partner to snuggle baby skin to skin by mom’s head

An ICAN chapter meeting can be a great place to brainstorm a cesarean birth plan with other mothers who have planned similar births in your area hospital. You and your provider can work together to plan a safe birthing that honors this major life event for your family.

Did you have a planned cesarean section? Leave us a comment to share some aspects of your birth plan!

Image credit: Wilf/flickr

Duct Work: Unplugging a Block

I spent most of last weekend texting pictures of my side-boob to my friends. Is this a plugged duct or an insect bite? 

Thankfully, I have friends who support me through these sorts of messages. I recently became accredited as a peer breastfeeding counselor through Breastfeeding USA, which might explain why I have so many friends willing to look at pictures of my milk ducts.

In case you don’t, here’s what to look for in a clogged duct and how to treat it (before they lead to mastitis!)industrial duct work

Signs of a Clogged/Blocked/Plugged Duct

Your breast is filled with milk ducts that carry milk to your nipple, much like an air duct brings cool, fresh air throughout a building. If the duct gets clogged, you’ll get an uncomfortable backup. In this case, the backup will be made of milk and you’ll notice heat, a hard lump, swelling, redness. A plugged duct affects only one breast (although you might be extremely unlucky and have a clog on each side).

Usually, a plugged duct feels better after a nursing session, which makes sense because you’ve eased the backlog of milk pressing on the sore spot.

Treating a Blocked Duct

The best way to treat a clogged duct is to nurse. Nurse your baby. Then nurse him again! Some moms find it helpful to hover above the baby and dangle their breast into baby’s mouth.

Blocked ducts often appear when moms have missed a feeding, perhaps due to work or gradual weaning or any number of reasons why nursing sessions might get spread out. Did baby recently start sleeping longer? Is baby getting a tooth and slipping her latch? If you don’t have your baby on hand to relieve the clog, you can try hand expression or using a breast pump to relieve discomfort.


You’ll need to make sure you are getting adequate rest and hydration. Breast compression or massage during nursing/pumping can help to move things along as well.

You want to take a blocked duct very seriously, because it could progress to become mastitis. If you notice a fever, please contact your doctor right away.

Did you ever get a clogged duct? Leave us a comment to share your tried and true methods to relieve it!

Photo credit: Ishikawa Ken/Flickr

This, Too, Shall Pass: Pregnancy Mantras for Late August

I had lunch with a very pregnant friend the other day. Her feet were puffing out over the straps in her shoes. Her eyes were watery and runny. Her nose was stuffed. Her hips ached and she lumbered, great with child, limping around the head of the baby pregnant woman holding her belly over white backgrounddropped into her pelvis.

“Isn’t it a miracle,” I heard strangers say to her, or else, “You look like you’re about to burst!”

And I couldn’t help but smile because I am not pregnant in August. I will never have to endure being pregnant in August again.

Of course, being pregnant is a miracle. Of course, each day alone with your baby inside is a gift to cherish forever.

But if you’ve ever lived in a hot, humid place and been third-trimester-pregnant in August, you know that it’s also painful and agonizing and puffy and sweaty. You can’t sleep because your bones ache and the baby kicks your bladder. You can’t take any Dayquil when you get a cold. You can’t even drink a beer in the evening.

This, too, shall pass. It really will! That’s been my mantra for everything since my first son was born. It doesn’t feel like it’s passing, but every second you make it through something difficult is one less second it will last.

Last summer, each day I waddled after my boys, whose energy was not diminished like mine was from growing a human, and wept that I’d be pregnant for the rest of my life. So I’d try to remember to breathe and repeat this, too, shall pass. Because it passes, it passes so quickly that by the time you get your baby home, you’ve forgotten how badly your lower back hurts while you’re pregnant.

So if you’re pregnant this month and sweating, and having a hard time, try taking deep breaths and reciting this mantra: This, too, shall pass.

Did you have a mantra to get you through those swollen, final days of pregnancy? Leave us a comment to share!

Do I Really Need a Nipple Shield?

Lately, it seems like postpartum nurses are handing out nipple shields like candy. Many, many new mothers are told they have flat nipples and need to use a nipple shield as a bridge to facilitate a proper latch. And this may be true! But many times, the shields are distributed without enough additional information . . . → Read More: Do I Really Need a Nipple Shield?

Transitional Pants

My son just turned 1 this weekend, and I’m still wearing my maternity pants. I’m doing so for several reasons.

First, I’m still about 20 pounds heavier than I was before I had this third baby, and the maternity pants are more forgiving than “regular” pants.

But! Maternity pants are just. So. Comfortable. I . . . → Read More: Transitional Pants

Weaning from Pumping When You’ve Met Your Milestone

Monday was the last day I plan to ever use my breastpump. I remember my final pumping session vividly: we were moving into our new house, and I crouched on the floor in my dining room, hiding from the movers. Of course, it didn’t work and I still got caught. Oh well!

My mother . . . → Read More: Weaning from Pumping When You’ve Met Your Milestone