I would like to add a few things from my limited experience. These are tips specific to being a doctor, but can be applied to any mother who is extremely pressed for time.
- Check in with the RN station beforehand = Get things in order first
All residents quickly learn that if you want uninterupted time, you speak with the ancillary staff to find out if they need anything from you before you take care of yourself. Nothing cuts off a milk letdown like hearing your pager go off in the middle of pumping, and I imagine the same is true for moms who hear their children screaming for something when they've just gotten settled.
- Say it straight-faced = There's no need to get embarrassed over pumping
Doctors hardly blink an eye when they hear about body parts and functions. The truth is, if you don't make a big deal about something it doesn't become one. In contrast, if you're red faced every time you say 'breast' that's going to have a positive feedback response from the person hearing it. So just say what you need to say to communicate with people your needs for pumping breast milk. -Tee hee.
- In case of a Code Blue = In an emergency. . .
Detach the tubing from the breastshield and bolt. If you remove the tubing from the pump itself you will not be able to lay the bottles on a flat surface and run. And don't even think about spending the time to transfer your milk to another container when your adrenaline is pumping.
- Type progress notes while you pump* = Go hands free
There's that goofy looking bra you can wear to hold the breast shields in place and many mothers swear by it (I'm not knocking them, but c'mon, don't tell me that picture doesn't make you crack up). I recently found, however, that my Playtex nursing bras have enough elasticity in them that they can be clipped around my pumping parts and actually hold them in place!
- Consider your rotation schedule when returning to work
Don't jump back into residency with an in-patient month if you can help it. You'll be too tired and literally drained to get through it well. If your schedule has already been made, see if you can switch with another resident for an elective month.
- Create an involuntary pathway = Train your brain
Repetition will limit the amount of time it takes you to pump, and hopefully limit mistakes that will eventually happen when you're sleep deprived.
- Build your reserve by the end of maternity leave
This is really difficult as a resident because most of us get only 6 weeks off, the end of which usually marks the time when baby is going through a demanding growth spurt. But if you can push yourself to have a nice supply sitting in your freezer, a HUGE weight will be taken off your shoulders and you'll be a milk machine.
* Marketing Mama brings up a good point that you should just focus on your baby when you're still getting into pumping.