Tips for Successful Breastfeeding When a Doctor or in Medical School (2)

Finding a time and a place

Finding time to pump can be difficult, but it can help to tell a few chosen people what you are doing.

Kate Newkumet says, ” Slipping away to pump can be difficult, but not impossible. I don’t think I ever pumped without at least one call on my pager. Pumping on the run is not a relaxing experience, but I haven’t met anyone who felt it affected their milk supply… Expect women in the workplace to be supportive and willing to cover for you for the few minutes you might be delayed – they appreciate your dedication and commitment to your children. Without meaning to sound derogatory, expect some men to be clueless. Although I was very open about what I was doing, one of my partners thought I was taking a catnap when he saw my office door close every day. I think they just did not realize how many working woman actually pump and how important it is to us, or why someone so busy would go to so much trouble. For medical students and residents, I would suggest confiding your plans to a female senior resident or attending (especially if she’s a Mom) who will likely vigorously support your short pump breaks.”

Finding a place to pump is also key. If you have your own office, you can set up your own ‘pump station’, bring a picture of baby, a snack, a drink and your breast pump. If you work in a hospital, pediatric resident Rivka Stein advises us “that most hospitals with a maternity unit or NICU will have a breastfeeding room with hospital grade machines and a freezer to store breast milk”. They often will provide sterile “specimen cups” to store the milk in as well. I spent many hours reading in a comfortable rocking chair during my PICU rotation. It was a great break from the stresses of the unit, and no one minded my disappearing for 20 minutes every couple of hours (especially since the fellow was joining me as well!) Breastfeeding while working as a resident is hard, but tremendously rewarding”.

A powerful pump helps make pumping quicker and easier. “A ‘double-barreled’ electric pump with hands-free attachments (Medela is good) is essential- you can complete the process in 10-15 minutes and do chartwork at the same time. You will look absolutely ridiculous, but you will be used to it from your experiences during the infant’s birth”, says Kate. Another useful tip “is to have a handpump, so that one breast could be pumped any private place without need of an outlet” suggests AE.

Remember how ever long you manage to nurse your child, one week, one month or one year it is a gift that will last a lifetime. Good luck, it can be done!