I've been pumping at work for almost five months now, so I wanted to share some tips and tricks that I've learned along the way.
1. Relax! When I first went back to work, I'd spend the time in my little pumping room stressed out. I'd stress about how much time it was taking, how much milk was in the bottles, what I should be doing to get ready for my next class, the piles of papers I should be grading... And I'd get annoyed that I had to pump at work because I live in a society that doesn't place monetary value on the role of the mother so I have to work! When I finally shut off my mind, took some deep breaths and relaxed, the bottles seemed to magically fill up. Now I read fun, quick novels while I pump and forget all the stress for a little while.
2. Think About Your Baby! I've found that looking at a picture of my son, picturing his sweet milky smile or the cute way he looks up at me while he suckles will really help my milk let-down. For the first few minutes of pumping I think about my son until the milk starts flowing, and then I pick up my book to read. Sometimes it's hard to clear my mind (see #1 above!), but I do my best because it works.
3. Don't Forget to Eat and Drink! Even before becoming a mother I would skip breakfast in my rush out the door or forget about eating lunch because I was "too busy." And since I can only use the restroom in between my 84-minute classes, I wouldn't drink enough water throughout the day at school. If I don't drink enough water or skip a meal now, I see the result is decreased milk supply. I have to make time to drink water and eat, which I know is what's best for me anyway, even if I do have to ask a colleague to cover my class for a few minutes so I can run to the ladies' room!
4. Experiment! Try different methods of pumping to find what works for you. It took me a few weeks to realize that it takes me 20-30 minutes to pump as opposed to the 10 minutes other moms talked about. I tried a technique an online friend suggested but it didn't work. At first I thought there was something wrong with me until I just accepted it: that's just how long it takes me! I should have expected it would take a long time, since Joshua typically nurses for 30-40 minutes at a time and sometimes for much longer.
5. Most importantly: Breast feed that baby! When you're with your baby, nurse on-cue (on-demand). I've found this is the best way to keep up my supply. I'm nursing throughout the night which also helps maintain my supply. Co-sleeping has been the best sleeping arrangement for our family, since that means Joshua can nurse all night long if he wants to, and I don't have to drag myself out of bed and go to his room to nurse him.
Whatever you do, don't give up because you'll find what works for you!