Thursday, November 13, 2014

Baby 101: How to Pump in the Car

Total game changer: learning how to pump in the car.

Since I leave for work before C wakes up (now that I get to work at 7:00 AM), I have to pump in the mornings.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who despises having to wake up an extra 20 minutes early to have time to pump before work.  I'd read online about pumping in the car during the commute, but it seemed logistically difficult; however, the lure of an extra 20 minutes of sleep each morning eventually won me over, and I bit the bullet and bought a Medela power adapter for my car's cigarette lighter.  Now that I've been doing it for a couple of weeks, I love the extra sleep and the feeling that I'm multitasking on my 20-minute drive to work.  Here are some tips based on what's been working best for me:

1.  Leave an extra 5 minutes early.

It takes me 2-3 minutes to get everything "set up" before I start driving, and another 2-3 minutes to unhook everything when I arrive to work.  So I try to leave the house about 5 minutes earlier than I normally do.

2.  Hook/unhook everything while your car is in Park (safety first!)

Do not attempt to set up your pumping stuff or unhook it while you're driving, or even while you're at a red light.  I set everything up while I'm still parked in my garage, and wait until I'm parked in a parking spot at work before I unhook anything.  When I'm ready to stop pumping mid-commute (because it normally doesn't take me the whole time), I'll just unplug the tubing from the pump flanges and let the pump continue to run (and leave everything else - the pump flanges, pumping bra, etc. - where it is).  This has a side benefit of allowing the condensation in the tubing to dry out by the time you get to work and turn the pump off. 

3.  Buy a car power adapter for your pump

Obviously, a power adapter for your pump is a necessary part of the pumping-while-driving equation.  I bought mine at Babies R Us for $29.99, less a 20% off coupon.  Make sure you check the voltage on your pump - Medela pumps come in both 9V and 12V, so you need to get the right power adapter for your specific pump model.

4.  A hands-free pumping bra is a must

It's not possible to pump and drive at the same time (safely, at least) without a hands-free pumping bra.  I use the Simple Wishes pumping bra, which I bought off Amazon; it zips up easily over whatever I'm wearing, and is sturdy enough to hold 2 full 8-ounce bottles in place.

5.  A nursing cover is another must

Unless you're a pumping exhibitionist, you'll want a nursing cover to hide the whole pumping setup while you drive.  I've found it to work best if I put the nursing cover on AFTER I fasten my seat belt, so the nursing cover is on top of everything.

6.  Use large (8 or 9-ounce) bottles

I normally pump into the 5-ounce Medela bottles; however, for pumping while driving, I recommend using 8 or 9 ounce bottles.  Since you're driving, plus wearing a nursing cover, it's more difficult to monitor how full the bottles are getting.  Using larger bottles means I don't have to worry about the bottles overflowing while I'm driving...especially since I'm normally pumping during my morning commute, when my output volume tends to be higher.

7.  Have a towel/napkins handy for drips

Whenever we go to a drive-through or get takeout and end up with a handful of restaurant paper napkins, I always just put them in the console between the driver and passenger seats.  It's nice to have them nearby to clean up any drips when I'm unhooking all the pump equipment.

8.  Get everything organized before you start

I put my purse and the bag I keep all my pump stuff in on the floor on the passenger side.  Then, in the passenger seat, I put my pump, a paper napkin, and the Tupperware container (with the lid off) that I keep my pump parts in.  I also make sure to clear out my car's cupholders. 
When I get to work, I unhook everything with the nursing cover still on; I unscrew the bottles from the pump flanges and put them directly into the 2 cupholders until I get a chance to put caps on them (if I try to hold the bottles upright between my legs, I'm sure I'll end up with milk spilled all over my car).  I put the pump flanges directly into the open Tupperware container and put the lid on.  I screw caps onto the bottles and put them in my cooler.  Then, after I take off the pumping bra and nursing cover, I go into work and walk straight to our "wellness" room, where I put my milk cooler and Tupperware of pump parts in the refrigerator.

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