Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Pumping While Driving

Women are born to multitask. I mean, we can drive, talk on the phone, put on makeup and express breast milk, all SIMULTANEOUSLY. Oh, while doing all that, we are thinking what should we eat for lunch, dinner and supper. 

This have been my routine for the past 16 months. Every day, when I drive to the office and from the office to home on weekdays, I would set up my breast pump parts before I start my journey through the predictable traffic jam. (Yawn...). Now, to be honest, this is not that difficult to do, but it does take a lot of faith to even consider doing this. Plus, it will depend whether your pump is battery operated or not. I use the Medela Freestyle™ - Hands-Free Breastpump and it uses a rechargeable battery. I LOVE MY PUMP. :)

Every mother is different in terms of her level of comfort with PIP (Pumping in Public). Some prefer the quiet assurance of being in a locked room, some can't relax at this notion of the openness (I am referring to the fact that it is done in an open space, not talking about the opposite of narrow-mindedness) while some, like yours truly here, just need a time to pump and as long as there is a scarf or cover , basically I can get the job done, anywhere.... happily. :)

Well, these "veteran" boobs have been through so many pumping sessions in sometimes interesting places, it is well programmed to respond to the pump anywhere. 

In conjunction with WBW, this week, I will be sharing never-seen-before-pictures of me pumping behind the wheels. I have spoken about this to many people (some gave me this jaw-drop expression like in the movie Mask), commented on Facebook about it but have never dedicated a post on it. So, here it is. Better late than never. 

Lately I am feeling a bit nostalgic because my daughter is going to be 17 months old and I think she will be my last baby. So, I can't help to feel a bit sad and emotional that very soon, she will be independent and conquering the world on her own without pulling my collar down to expose my boobs to the world every 15 minutes throughout the day. Ahhh... how I would miss that when she weans... 

OK, back to the topic. To do this, I have my faithful shawl which helps me to cover up before I put on the breast shields. You can use a nursing shawl or cover, which is a shawl that has been sewn at strategic spots and costs more than a regular shawl. You should buckle up the seat belt first before starting. I would put the front strap above my head so that it rests on my back. That will allow more freedom to move your hands around. But, I can also keep the strap in front after I have set everything up.

DISCLAIMER: SAFETY COMES FIRST. If you are not confident that you can drive or navigate properly, please do not pump while driving. 



 I just use an old, comfy shawl and tie 2 of the ends up. Like this...

I put this over my head and adjust the shawl over my shoulders well and it will cover the entire front part of the upper body. Sometimes I would use a nursing cover that looks like this:



This is nice too and I love the fact that your hands are more free to move around while setting up the "production line" and when I nurse my tot, the ventilation is better. Not that my tot can nurse peacefully every time and remain under-cover, but this is definitely a good investment for nursing mommies. 

I will put my Medela Pump bag on the passenger seat and screw on the storage bottles on and while remaining cool and composed, slide my hands under the shawl, pull down the nursing top or nursing-friendly top, position the breast shield and snap the flaps of the nursing bra back on to hold the machinery in place. 

Here, I would recommend that you leave enough material when you tie the knot on the ends of the shawl so that you have ample space between the neck and chest. With that, you can peek into to the space and check the position of the breast shields. I usually look left and right to ensure the car next to me is empty before doing this. I am not shy or embarrassed about partially undressing in public but it is to to save the other driver from "shock" or killing his or her brain cells trying to figure out what this woman aka flasher is doing peering down to her precious parts in broad day light. 

Trust me, with a few practice, you will be able to do this automatically in a snap. Don't worry, really, most people are so engrossed with their phones to even notice what you are doing anyway. 

This is how it looks after the assembly...

Side view


Front view

See? It's very discreet and NO one would know that you are expressing breast milk there. 

Then, I will put the tubes on, start the pump and begin to drive. Most important, do drive safely and at a moderate speed. This is definitely not what you would want to do if you are in a hurry and need to focus on driving fast. Not that driving fast is encouraged anyway. My hands are free to manoeuvre the steering wheels and it has become like second nature to me, so much so that if I am not pumping, I feel it is a waste of valuable time. If I am caught in a jam, then it will be the best time to do power pumping. (Pump for 10-20 minutes, Rest for 10 minutes, Pump 10 minutes, Rest 10 minutes, Pump for 10 minutes

With 2 sessions of pumping done while driving, I pump once in the office during the lunch break. So, to me this really works out well for me. 

Notes:
  • DISCLAIMER: SAFETY COMES FIRST. If you are not confident that you can drive or navigate properly, please do not pump while driving. 
  • Only unhook the parts when you have reach your destination. Never attempt to do this while you are still on the way, no matter how tempting it seems at the traffic light. Unless, of course, you are trapped in a standstill jam. (Pray hard that it doesn't happen that often)
  • If you want to try this, start by practicing at home first. Practice in front of a mirror and get a hang it it with a shawl on. 
  • Do allocate or factor in at least 5 minutes (for setting up the pump and storing milk) into the time taken for the whole journey so that you can be on time for your appointment or clocking into the office. 
There you go! I hope this helped some of you busy and on-the-go mommies out there like me and if you have any questions, do drop me a note. :)   

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