Here is what my day used to look like: Work, pump, wash bottles, nurse, pump, wash bottles, nurse, pump, sleep back to work AND repeat! Welcome to the life of the working milk lady.
This schedule was really wearing me down. My frozen milk supply was almost out, I felt like a cow at a dairy farm and doing the dishes all the time was driving me crazy (and all you do when you're pumping is washing parts and bottles). This process that's so great for my baby was taking me away from her when all I wanted to do was come home from work and hug her (not pump or wash). I hear a lot of women go through this point after they start working and I now fully understand why they stop pumping and eventually, breastfeeding. But changing a few things in my routine to make it more efficient has lifted a huge burden from my shoulders.
Here are some tips that helped turn things around for me:
1) Get a pump room with purpose
My job set me up with a pumping office, that has a computer in it. Now pumping is with a purpose, I can get so much done in the 20 minutes away from my normal desk. I realized I am not a mother who wants a quiet peaceful place -- give me a place I can multi-task. I used to resent pumping at work because it took me away from work. That meant 20 minutes of pumping kept me there 20 minutes longer to finish up things at work, which means 20 fewer minutes with Siena when I get home. Not anymore! My secret office has changed the whole way I look at pumping at work. If you can't get a computer in your pumping room, try an iPad or laptop. You'll be amazed at the things you can get done in that time. Even if it's paying bills online. That's chores you don't have to do when you get home to baby.
2) Stock up on pumping bottles and parts
This may be obvious to many but it wasn't to me. I had 8 bottles to pump into (which I thought was over the top). When I took a second to do the math, 2 before work, 4 at work, 2 right after work, 2 at night... oops, we're above 8 already. That means washing washing washing. My "boobie coach" laughed when I told her this and immediately ordered me more bottles. Now I have 30 and it's great (I'd suggest this as the minimum) - she sells them in bulk so they're a lot cheaper than buying them at a store. I wash them every 3 days or so and it's made such a difference to my happiness. I also now have 4 sets of pumping parts (I used to only have 1 pair).
3) Think of the battle of the boob as week-to-week
I had become a little confident in breastfeeding and had set my sights on doing it for a year. That pressure I put on myself was making me feel like a failure each time I had to reach into the freezer and grab one of my bags because I saw my inventory dwindling. As the supply went down I felt like there was no way I was going to last a year and hear a voice in my head berating me, "I am such a bad mom." Feeling like you're letting your baby down is not a good feeling to put on yourself daily. Now I just try to get through the next week. I'll be at 5 months soon, then 5 months and 1 week and if I stop next week I've done my best and am now loving every second again. Just one more week of this... ok then another week (don't you love how we can trick our brains).
I hope those tips help you as much as they helped me. Let me know if you have any other tips to make pumping more bearable. I hear once they start eating solid foods it gets easier.