How To Find Time To Blog As A Busy Nurse & Mom

How To Find Time To Blog As A Busy Nurse & Mom

(This post may contain affiliate links.  You can read my disclosure page here.)

How to find time to blog as a busy nurse and mom:

My biggest challenge as a busy nurse & mom blogger is simply finding the time to work on my blog.  This post discusses ways that I manage to grow my blog despite having a very busy work and home schedule.

#1.  Schedule time to blog

Treat your blog as a side job.  How much time do you have to invest in it at the moment?  Is it only 5 or 10 hours a week like me?  That is better than nothing!  Its going to take you longer to build a blog and following but it can be done.  Building a blog is a marathon, not a sprint.

A lot of people ask me when I have time to work on blogging.  The truth is, not much.  The only time I have to blog is for up to an hour while my kids are napping and after I put them to sleep at 8pm.  On the days I work 12 hour shifts as a nurse I am only able to blog after I get home and shower, and by then it’s usually 9pm.  And I need to try and get some sleep since I’m either up for work or being woken up by one of my children by 5:30 or 6 in the morning!

The most important thing that busy bloggers must do is to be with the little bit of time that they do have.  You can actually get a lot done in 5 -10 hours a week if you use your time wisely.

#2.   Batch write

Instead of writing 1-2 posts a week, try writing 10 over a period of a several days and then schedule them out far in advance.  This process can help you free up a lot of time!   My process goes something like this:

  • Keyword Research and pick titles for 10 blog posts
  • Write outlines for ten blog posts
  • Do all content creation
  • Optimize all SEO
  • Go back and insert affiliate links and internal/external links for each post
  • Make all graphic designs for each post
  • Schedule posts on WordPress scheduler

This process has saved me so much time and just makes blogging more simple.

#3.  Outline your blog posts first

Is your writing method just to start writing and see where it takes you?  Unfortunately, that may not be the most efficient way to get things done.

When you are trying to inform and create a structured piece, more planning is generally better.  After you do your keyword research and pick your title, try writing down each of the points you want to make.  Then you can use those points as headers for the post to break it up into smaller, more digestible pieces to read.

Think of your outline as the foundation that you can build amazing content around.  Outlining will make your posts easily for you to write, and that will save you time.

#4.  Always have a plan for what you are going to do as soon as you have a free moment for blogging.

If you are going to be a blogger you need excellent time management skills.  The second I put my kids down for a nap I know exactly what I am going to spend that hour doing (usually content creation).

I do chores around the house and all of the cooking while my kids are awake.  That way I can free up some time to work on the blog when my kids are asleep.

blogger typing on a laptop

#5.  Quit doing time wasting activities

Stop using social media.   I know  people who spend hours on Instagram every single day, yet they swear they are so busy that they never have time to get anything done!  I bet if you quit using social media for 1 week you would find that you are suddenly so much more productive.  And probably happier and more in the present to boot!

If you are going to be a blogger you have to get really good at using your time wisely.  Be overprotective about your time.  My time is the most important asset I have and it is important to me.  As a result, I rarely use Instagram or Facebook anymore.  Hopefully one day I will be able to source out a lot of my work (except content creation, of course), but until then I’ve got a lot of work to do.  There is no time to waste.

#6.  Use an editorial calendar

I am almost completely paperless, except for my editorial calendar (which I use as a hard copy for pretty much everything that goes into my blog).  You can find editorial calendars online, but I have found that by using my hard copy of EPIC blog and my scheduler on WordPress that I stay super organized.  I always manage to stay on top of deadlines.

At some point I would love to create my own editorial calendar for bloggers.  Until then, my EPIC blog editorial calendar is super helpful!

 

#7.  Listen to blogging podcasts

When you are starting a project and don’t totally have a grasp one what you are doing, there is only one really good thing to do:  find people who are doing it well and learn from them!

Anytime I take my children for a walk in the stroller or I am on my commute to and from work I listen to blogging podcasts.  Podcasts keep me motivated during the times I am physically unable to blog.  Plus I am able to learn from other bloggers who have had some of the same blogging struggles I do.

#8.  Make time for rest and rejuvenation

You can only burn that candle from both ends for so long.  If you work too hard with no rest then you end up burned out, sick and wondering why you even wanted to be a blogger in the first place.  Giving yourself time to rest can also be great for creativity as well.

Additional Recommended Reading:

Pregnant Nurse Precautions To Consider At Work (Updated For COVID-19)

Pregnant Nurse Precautions To Consider At Work (Updated For COVID-19)

*Updated on 4/9/20 to include pregnant nurse precautions for COVID-19. *Affiliate links.

As an ER nurse who delivered my second baby in early 2018,  I have done a lot of research about pregnant nurse precautions to be aware of when you work in a hospital.  My goal was to make sure that it was safe for me to continue working in such a physically demanding environment with so many potential occupational hazards.

Fortunately, I was able to work safely right up until a few weeks before giving birth. As a per diem nurse, I did not have any maternity or disability benefits, so I wanted to save up as much money as possible before I went out on leave.  Thankfully, I was able to do just that.  But safety was still my number one concern.  I hope this information can help other nurses stay safe during their pregnancies as well.

Talk to your OBGYN

First off, you must talk to your doctor to discuss any occupational concerns you have during your pregnancy. Continue the dialog at your prenatal appointments as you move along your pregnancy.  If you have questions in between your appointments, then contact your doctor.

My goal in writing this is not to make pregnant nurses afraid to work in the hospital.  I am so glad that I was able to safely work as a pregnant nurse for as long as I did.  Still, there is no shortage of occupational hazards for the pregnant nurse within the hospital setting. Working safely is the number one goal.

You must communicate with management and your charge nurse about your pregnancy.  They cannot help you avoid potential pregnancy hazards if they don’t know that you are expecting.

Additional recommended reading:  Prayers For The Sick And For Nurses During COVID-19

Pregnant nurse precautions to consider at work

Pregnant nurse precautions and hazards to consider:

COVID-19

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has many pregnant healthcare providers, especially frontline nurses, uniquely concerned.  Because COVID-19 is so new, there hasn’t been enough time to study its effects on breastfeeding or pregnant women.  Also, many nurses who are working directly with COVID-19 patients say they don’t have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect them from the virus safely.  That maybe even more problematic for pregnant nurses who directly care for COVID-19 patients.

On pregnant women and COVID-19, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) stated:

“We do not have information from published scientific reports about susceptibility of pregnant women to COVID-19. Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19. Pregnant women also might be at risk for severe illness, morbidity, or mortality compared to the general population as observed in cases of other related coronavirus infections [including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV)* and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)] and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, during pregnancy.”

On pregnant healthcare personal and COVID-19, the CDC stated:

“Pregnant healthcare personnel (HCP) should follow risk assessment and infection control guidelines for HCP exposed to patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Adherence to recommended infection prevention and control practices is an important part of protecting all HCP in healthcare settings. Information on COVID-19 in pregnancy is very limited; facilities may want to consider limiting exposure of pregnant HCP to patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, especially during higher risk procedures (e.g., aerosol-generating procedures) if feasible based on staffing availability.”

Essentially, the CDC does not know at this time if pregnant women are at a higher risk when working with COVID-19 patients because the evidence is limited. As a precaution, pregnant women may want to consider working in lower-risk areas where they have less exposure to COVID-19 patients.

The most important take away is to always take care of yourself first.  You can’t care for your family and your patients if you become sick.


Radiation from diagnostic imaging

In the ER and on most floor units within the hospital, patients often receive portable X-rays at the bedside.  So naturally, I was concerned about radiation exposure and how it could impact the health of my unborn child.  I felt it was wise to air on the side of safety by not exposing myself to unnecessary radiation during pregnancy.

If you are in an area where x-rays are being taken, you must wear a lead radiation apron to protect yourself, especially if you are within six feet of the machine.  If possible, it is also a good idea to step outside the room while the image is taken.

In my nursing experience, x-ray technicians usually notify anyone within the vicinity of where imaging is being taken.  I was able to leave the area for a few minutes, whether I was wearing a lead apron or not.

Key takeaways: 

  • Notify management of pregnancy
  • Wear lead radiation apron
  • Step outside of the room when portable x-rays are taking place

Dangers from working with chemo or other teratogenic medications

There is evidence that handling some medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, can cause adverse reproductive outcomes, including fetal loss, miscarriage, infertility, and preterm births.  In addition, it may cause learning disabilities in babies exposed to some drugs if nurses are exposed during pregnancy.

Wearing protective equipment, such as gowns, masks, and gloves, can minimize occupational risk to a pregnant nurse.  However, it does not completely eradicate it.

Nurses working in oncology or other areas where antineoplastics are prescribed may want to speak with management about the safest way to continue working.  In addition, you can insist on getting help from co-workers or management to give teratogenic medications to patients.  Moving to another work area may be a consideration if safety for the fetus is still a concern.

Key takeaways:

  • Wear protective equipment when giving medications
  • Ask for help from co-workers when working with teratogenic medications
  • Consider temporarily working in another area of the hospital during pregnancy as your management allows

Additional recommended reading:  Why I love being an ER nurse

Risk for infection

As a pregnant ER nurse, I was very concerned with the risk of infection from patients such as c-diff, tuberculosis, cytomegalovirus, and influenza during my pregnancy.  Since the ER is often the first stop in the hospital for sick patients, I often didn’t know that a patient had a contagious infection until after they had been admitted. By then it was too late to protect myself if I hadn’t already.

Pregnant women need to be especially proactive with protective equipment and hand hygiene. It is ideal for all hospital employees to have their measles, mumps, and varicella-zoster vaccinations before pregnancy (most facilities require these vaccinations to work anyway). Hep B and influenza vaccination can also safely be administered during pregnancy.

As an added precaution, I made sure to change my clothes and shoes before leaving the hospital to minimize the risk of work-to-home contamination.  The first thing I did upon getting home was take a shower to rid myself of any other possible bugs I could have inadvertently carried home with me.

Key takeaways:

  • Stay up to date in all vaccines including the yearly flu vaccine
  • Adhere to strict universal precautions and hand hygiene
  • Request job modification to minimize exposure to specific patient populations
  • Minimize work-to-home contamination by changing work clothes and shoes before going home
  • Shower as soon as you get home from work

The physicality of nursing while pregnant

Being a nurse while pregnant is exceptionally hard work.  Not only are we on our feet for up to 12 hours a day, but pregnant nurses are also carrying an extra 25-plus pounds towards the latter part of pregnancy.  Additionally, the extra girth makes it significantly more challenging to fit into tight spaces.

Movement becomes even more awkward for pregnant nurses due to having an altered center of gravity.  Also, high serum levels of progesterone and relaxin loosen muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues.  For nurses who do a lot of heavy, repetitive work requiring lifting, pulling, or pushing their risk of musculoskeletal injury is increased.

It is wise for pregnant nurses to use patient transfer equipment and to ask co-workers for help with moving patients.  However, if your work situation is still too physical for you to manage safely during pregnancy, you may want to consider a modified duty in a lower risk setting with a less physical patient load.

On another note, pregnant nurses also have a higher risk of developing varicose veins due to an increase in total blood volume caused by pregnancy.  The added blood volume, combined with being on one’s feet all day, leads to poor circulation, puffy legs, and swollen ankles.  Compression socks or stockings can help reduce the risk of blood clots and varicose veins as well as prevent swelling.

Key takeaways:

  • Pregnant nurses may want to inquire about modified duty
  • Understand how the altered center of gravity and hormonal changes in pregnancy predispose a nurse to injury (despite using best lifting practices)
  • Use patient transfer equipment when available
  • Ask for additional staff help with transfers
  • Wear compression socks or stockings

Additional recommended reading:  Top 30 Ultimate List Of Nursing School Supplies And Essentials

Pregnant nurse precautions with COVID-19

Violent patients

I worked in our ER psychiatric hold area several times throughout my pregnancy.  There were a few incidences where I had patients verbally threaten me or begin to escalate towards violence.  I always had a security guard with me, and I stayed a reasonable distance away from patients when I felt that my safety could be at risk.  I was likely overly cautious at times, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

Violence against nurses is not uncommon, especially in the ER setting.  Stay vigilant and keep away from any potentially threatening situations.  If a patient is escalating towards violence, then leave and call for help immediately.

Working during flu season

The CDC recommends that pregnant women get a flu shot.   Not only do hormone changes during pregnancy often make pregnant women more susceptible to getting the flu, but a common flu symptom is a fever, which may be associated with neural tube defects and other adverse outcomes for a developing baby.  Getting vaccinated can also help protect a baby after birth from flu through passive immunity.

My experience:  The flu season in December 2017 was unusually bad.   Many patients came to our ER for flu symptoms.  Unfortunately, almost every nurse was infected with the flu or a cold at least once during the season.  Myself, included.

At the time, I was over eight months pregnant, and I was struggling with how horrible I felt.  I always get a flu shot to reduce my chances of getting sick during flu season.  However, if I ever got pregnant again, I might consider starting my maternity leave towards the beginning of the flu season – especially, if I was that close to my due date.

An unexpected benefit of working as a nurse during pregnancy

One of the best gifts that pregnancy gave me was that it forced me to not be sedentary on days that I felt fatigued. (Although while you are carrying an extra 25-35 pounds of extra weight, you may not consider it a benefit).

Many studies show that not moving enough during pregnancy is bad for both mom and baby.  If fact, exercise during pregnancy can boost your baby’s brain development and make them smarter.  Who knew that working a 12-hour shift might promote health for both you and your unborn baby?

Good luck to you during your pregnancy and take care of yourself!

Additional Recommended Reading: 


Is Nursing a Good Career For Moms?

Is Nursing a Good Career For Moms?

*Article updated 3/8/2020

Is nursing a good career for moms?

As a mom and nurse, I have a lot of information to share about this topic – all from personal experience!

One of the main reasons I decided to become a nurse is because I wanted a better work-life balance for when I started my own family.

In my first post-college career, I worked in the corporate world, working 50+ hours a week.  At the time, my job also required that I frequently travel for business meetings – often for up to a week at a time.  That is a long time to be away when you have small children!

At the time, I also had a few nurse friends who told me that they appreciated the flexibility nursing allowed them when they decided to start families of their own.  Nursing was already a career that I was very interested in because I had a desire to work in a field where I could help others and make a difference in the world.  And since starting my own family was something that my husband and I eventually wanted, becoming a nurse began to make a lot more sense.

So nine years ago, I went back to college to earn a BSN.  I have since found that being a nurse mom has its challenges. However, I love both jobs, so it is worth it for me.

Here are the pros and cons of being a mother and nurse:

Nurse Mom Career: A Nurse and Mother with a small child

Being a mother and nurse has many perks, but it is not for the faint of heart.

Pros to a nursing career as a mom

Nursing is a flexible profession

One of the greatest perks of being a nurse is flexibility.  It is possible to make working motherhood work with nearly any schedule.

For example, hospitals are open seven days a week, 365 days a year, and they need a lot of nurses to help with patient care.  There are day shifts, night shifts, mid shifts, and even 4-hour break relief shifts available to many nurses.  The flexibility also allows for many moms to go back to school and earn an advanced nursing degree which can help create even more career opportunities.

There are also many times that that nurses can work in a day-  including 8, 10, and 12-hour shifts.  In the hospital setting, most shifts are usually 12 hours.  However, you can also work as a nurse in a doctor’s office, where shifts may only be 8 hours a day.  And in some hospital specialties, such as the PACU or Cath Lab, nurses often work 10-hour shifts.

A five day work week can become 3

Unlike most professions, many full-time nurses work three days a week instead of 5 (a benefit of the 12-hour workday).   That means nurse moms get to be home at least four days a week to spend solid, uninterrupted, quality time with their families.

And as a bonus, you will be able to run errands during the non-busy hours.  For example, I can take my kids with me to go grocery shopping on Tuesday and Friday mornings – and we are usually one of only a few shoppers there!  Running errands is so much easier when the roads and stores are less busy.  If fact, since I became a nurse, I can hardly stand shopping on the weekends.

There is no travel required (unless you are a travel nurse)

Travel is a lot of fun in the years before you start a family. But once children come along, that overnight business trip doesn’t seem so exciting anymore. In nursing, you have the option to go to the same workplace each time you go to work. Unless you are attending a nursing conference, there is no reason that you would need to travel for your nursing career.

Nurses can work per diem

Did I mention that nursing is flexible?  The most significant benefit I have found being nurse mom is that I have the option of working per diem. Per diem means “by the day.” As a nurse, you have an opportunity to work the days that you want to work and stay home with your children on the days that you don’t.

Here are a few benefits to per diem nursing:

  • Higher pay then a career nurse
  • Work as little as one day a week or as many as five days a week (as long as there is a need for an R.N.)
  • Make your schedule
  • Cancel shift the day before if you are needed at home
  • Add on a shift at the last minute

You can leave your work at work.

Nursing does not require that you maintain a home office.  In general, nurses do not have to bring work home with them.  It is a great feeling to be able to leave your work at work.  Best of all, you are not constantly worrying about quotas, reports that you need to turn in, or managing other employees – all of which many moms who work in business or other industries often have to do.

Cons of having a nursing career as a mom

Nursing is hard work

I would not get into nursing if you think that it is an easy job. I assure you, it is not. Nursing is the most challenging work that I’ve ever done in my entire life.  You will need some recovery time on your days off because nursing can be a very physically and mentally challenging job.

Because the work is so stressful and can often lead to burnout, I always emphasize how important it is that nurses take good care of themselves. Proper nutrition, exercise, yoga, and meditation are a few great ways that nurses can make their health a priority.

Being a mother and nurse at the same time is challenging because both jobs are arguably two of the hardest jobs in the world.  Albeit, they also are extremely rewarding as well.  So if you are up to facing the challenges that come with being a nurse mom, you can find a lot of joy in being both.

The shifts are long

Since most hospital shifts are 12-13 hours long, you likely won’t see your children at all on the days that you work.  Therefore, from the time you get up until the time you go to bed, you will be focused on things entirely outside of your family.

For that reason, I do not work back-to-back shifts, because I just don’t want to be away for my children for more than one day at a time (another reason per diem nursing works for me!).

12-hour shifts make for a very long workday.  An unfortunate side effect is that you are going to be extra tired on your days off when you are with your kids.  But let’s be honest, being at home with your children can be exhausting too!

You may have to work night shifts

Some nurses like to work the night shift.  Unfortunately, many nurses, especially nurse moms, do not want to work the night shift.   Working graveyards is hard on the body because you are always fighting your body’s natural circadian rhythm.  Over time this can cause or exacerbate nurse burnout.

Also, depending on where you work in the hospital, they may have mandatory rotating shifts, meaning that all nurses alternate between night and day shifts.  Talk about a confusing schedule!

Motherhood is the hardest job there is.  And when you flip your sleep schedule around, it may make it even harder to manage motherhood because you will constantly be fighting with exhaustion.

You will likely have to work some holidays and weekends

Hospitals never sleep, and that includes holidays and weekends.  While many people are enjoying a “family day” on a Saturday or Sunday, nurses are often working to take care of patients.  Unfortunately,  sometimes that can mean missing time with the kids, birthday parties, sporting events, and other special family outings.

There are many trade-offs to being a nurse as a mother.  Sometimes you will miss important events, but as an exchange, you can be home during the week on days that everyone else is working.

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider about the discussion regarding “is nursing a good career for moms?”  And many things depend on your current career and child care situation.

I hope this information is helpful for you if you are a mom who is interested in becoming a nurse (or want to be a nurse mom eventually!)  If you have any questions about the information in this post, please reach out to me in the comment section.

 

Are you considering nursing as a profession?  Leave a comment below!   

P.S. Sign up for our newsletter below exclusively for nurse moms!

Additional recommended reading:

My “About Me” Page and Our Huffington Post Interview

My “About Me” Page and Our Huffington Post Interview

My “About Me” page

If you have taken a peek over at my About Me page you may have read that nursing was NOT my first career.  If fact, I did’t even discover that I had a calling for nursing until after I had been working in the medical sales field for about 9 years.

Ill press rewind for just a minute…   Once upon a time, I worked in the competitive field of surgical equipment sales for a fortune 100 company and a few medical device startups.

I knew I didn’t love the career, but I made a pretty good living.  It also allowed me to travel for work and I was able to afford to take a lot of incredible overseas trips.  After a few years in the sales grind, I knew I wanted to do other things.  The problem was that my resume said I was a medical device salesperson.  So what was I supposed to do?

That voice in the back of my head continued gnawing at me, little by little.  Every day a small piece of my soul was being eaten up by working in a career that I had no real passion for.

Until finally one day, after a near mental break down I made the difficult decision to leave the field.  I went on a quest in pursuit of greater clinical medical knowledge and a desire to help humankind.  After years of scratching my head I had finally discovered my new path.

I was going to become a Nurse!

It has been 9 years since my near mental breakdown that forced me to make an incredible life change.  Nursing school was one of the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  But I am so thankful everyday that I did it.  Ultimately, it was the best decision for myself and and for my family.

nurse power

Here I am showing off my badge bloom…

Our Huffington Post Interview

My whole point in writing this post was to talk about a really cool experience that I had recently…

A journalist at the Huntington Post recently contacted me through my blog.  She asked if my husband and I would be interested in being interviewed for a piece that she was doing about what it was like being married to an ER nurse.   Of course I said yes!

(I was a journalism major in college and still have an itch to write, which is one of the reasons I blog).

Nursing is challenging.

I want to be an advocate for nurses because I think we tolerate things that would never be tolerated in any other field (but we do it anyway because we’re awesome).   I also really, really want to find a way to help nurses take better care of themselves.  Plus, I am extremely passionate about being a nurse and have a passion for helping others.  So, I was excited to share some of my thoughts (and I was also intrigued to see what my husband had to say about being married to an ER nurse).

If you are still reading this and want to take a look at our Huffington Post article you can read it here.

Thank you for reading my blog and free free to leave a comment.  I appreciate that your took the time to read this!

Sarah

Top 8 Pumping Essentials You Need

Top 8 Pumping Essentials You Need

(This post about pumping essentials contains affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure policy here.)

So you have made it through the first few months of breastfeeding a newborn.  Congratulations!  You are doing a great job, MamaMama!

But now a new change is looming on the horizon:  your maternity leave is slowly creeping to an end.  And you are wondering how you are going to continue providing your dear baby with their primary source of nutrition, breast milk.

And, like me, there is probably a big question going through your head right about now:

What pumping essentials do I nee when I go back to work?

I had so many concerns about being a “pumping mom,” and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how I was going to make it happen without a ton of stress.  But I knew I needed to be prepared.  I am a registered nurse, and I work hectic twelve-hour shifts.  Like most pumping moms who work, I don’t have time not to be prepared.

I am happy to share that I have been successfully pumping as an ER nurse in a very busy level 1 trauma center for the last four months.  And I still can’t believe how well it is going!  Sure, there have been a few minor hiccups along the way (like forgetting my breast pump at home, whoops!).   But overall, the experience has been way better then I would have thought.

I now know that I will be able to continue pumping breast milk for my baby for as long as I desire.  I want other working moms to know that they can do this too.  (Read more about what I have learned about pumping at work as a nurse).

Pumping essentials for pumping at work

Pumping essentials for pumping at work

Top 9 pumping essentials you need when you go back to work:

1. Portable Breast Pump

This pumping essential is the highest on the list, for obvious reasons.  Without it, you have no way to access your milk!   I am using the Medela Freestyle portable pump because it is the one that my insurance covered, and it works great.  You want to make sure that you have a double pump so you can pump both breasts at once to save time.

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Check with your insurance to see if they cover a portable breast pump before you buy one.  I live in California, and my insurance gave me a breast pump free of charge!

(Just a note, the different brands do not work interchangeably with each other.  So you want to make sure you find one brand you like and stick with it!  Otherwise, you will end up with a bunch of parts that don’t work with one another.  You don’t need your back to work pumping supply list to be any longer then it already is!)

2.  Bottles

You will need breast milk collection storage bottles to store your milk until you get home from work.  I use the Medela bottles because I already use the Medela pump, but there are several other brands you can use as well.  Just make sure the ones you are using are made without BPA (it’s a safer plastic that helps retain breast milk’s beneficial properties).

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I also like the Medela screw-on lids better than some other brands because they are leakproof.  (I tried a different brand and had an issue with leakage all over my packed lunch!).  You can wash them in the sink, and they are also dishwasher safe.

3.  Clip and Pump Hands-Free Nursing Bra

I like this nursing bra accessory because it makes it possible to double pump without having to hold the pumps with both hands.  Once you start pumping, you will find that having to keep the pumps in place is annoying and makes it difficult to do anything else.  This pumping essential will just make your life easier!

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This ingenious contraption can hook on to almost any nursing bra and make it a hands-free pumping bra as well!  That way, you can still do other things like check email or scroll through your phone.  Because let’s be honest, pumping can be pretty dull after a while!

4.  Breast Milk Storage Bag

After you pump, you need to make sure you have a place to store your breast milk until you get home.  I always pack a lunch for work, so I just use my insulated lunch bag to store my milk.  You can use any insulated storage bag.

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5.  Reusable Nursing Pads

Engorgement is no joke.  There have been a few times at work when I wasn’t able to pump on schedule, and I ended up leaking through my scrubs (you could barely see it but still!).  As a result of that embarrassing experience, I started wearing nursing pads when I was at work.

I use reusable nursing pads made of bamboo because I have read that many disposable pads contain absorbent chemicals that come in direct contact with your skin.  They also run the risk of trapping moisture, especially if you are leaking. This can increase the risk of mastitis, a very painful bacterial infection that will make you sick and can be dangerous if untreated.  Disposable pads can also be expensive over time if you are frequently using them.  I have 12 reusable nursing pads, and I run them through the washer and dryer with all my other clothes.

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6.  Breast Milk Storage Bags

The beautiful thing about pumping is that you can store your breast milk in the freezer!  So even if you have a surplus of milk, you can put it away for later use.   These little breast milk storage baggies are great because you can write the date on the top section, so you know how long they have been in the freezer.

Place them in the refrigerator for 12 hours before you need them to thaw them out.  Or place them in a bowl of hot water for quicker use.  These are on the high list of absolute must-have items to pump at work that you will need: I have used over 200 of them already!

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7.  Milk Storage Organizer

My freezer got a little overloaded with breast milk within the first few months that I was back at work, and this milk storage organizer helped me to keep things more organized.  It also helped me keep the milk organized by date, so I make sure to use the oldest milk first.

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8.  Newborn Bottle Feeding Set

Your baby is going to need a way to drink your breast milk when you are not there, right?  I tried so many different brands of bottles for our baby (there are so many!), but I finally settled on Dr. Brown’s newborn bottle feeding set.  Different brands are NOT able to be used interchangeably with one another, so its a good idea to find a brand you like and stick with it.  Otherwise, you end up spending a bunch of money on bottles and parts you don’t even need.

In the beginning, your baby will only need the 4-ounce bottles because they won’t be drinking as much milk.  But as they grow, you need to switch to the 8 oz size.  My son is six months and can take an entire 8 oz bottle in one feeding very easily.

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The Dr. Brown’s bottles have a blue vent system that is supposed to remove excess air bubbles from the milk.  This supposedly helps reduce feeding problems like colic, spit-up, burping, and gas.  Our daughter struggled with pretty severe colic and constant spit-up and switching to Dr. Brown’s bottles helped the situation tremendously.  She still had some issues, but they were noticeably much better!

Take it one day at a time, Mama.

You may get overwhelmed, but you too can do this!

I hope these pumping essentials help to make your return to work much easier on you.  There are a lot of products on the market, and it can be overwhelming for a mom who is preparing to go back to work from maternity leave.  So, make it easier on yourself and have a plan in place before you go back to work (read more about how I pump at work as a registered nurse who works 12-hour shifts).

After successfully pumping at work with two babies, I have whittled down my list to include the things that have helped me the most.  I hope this helps to guide you in the right direction to find what works for you too!

It is your legal right to continue to provide breast milk for your children and pump while you are at work.  Do not let anyone tell you differently or make you feel guilty about it.  Only you know what is right for you and your babies.

Good luck, Mama!  Let me know how it goes as a pumping mom in the workplace, and please reach out to me if you have any questions.  I would be happy to help you!

Additional recommended reading:

Nurse Moms are Incredible Humans

Nurse Moms are Incredible Humans

To the mom, who is also a Nurse:  You are incredible.

I recognize your hard work, and I empathize with your struggle.  And you are holding it together way better then you realize.

Being a nurse is hard work.  Being a Mom is hard work.  Add the two together, and you have one incredibly hard-working, badass, multitasking superhero with skills that can save lives. It’s a pretty awesome combination.

When I first graduated from college with my journalism degree (many years before I went back for my BSN), I entered the field of medical equipment sales.  I spent my time selling medical devices to surgeons in operating rooms up and down the west coast. I probably worked with hundreds of nurses during that time, and from an outsider’s perspective, I thought the nurse’s job was easy.

Then I went to nursing school.  And it pretty much kicked my butt from start to finish.  I can honestly say it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.

There is a nurse’s code of ethics that requires we protect our patients and give them the best care we possibly can.  When Nurse Moms leave after a long, often grueling 12-hour shift, their job doesn’t stop.  In actuality, they just go home to their other full-time job:  motherhood.

Nurse Moms know that toddlers are like tiny little psych patients.

In the emergency room, I deal with every single type of mental and psychiatric disorder ever documented in literature.   Nurses work with everything from homicidal schizophrenia to depression or anxiety and everything in between.

Some of the irrational conversations I have with my two-year-old remind me of some of the patients I have had to deal with at the hospital.  For example, I have watched her throw herself on the floor in a fit of tears because I didn’t peel the banana “the right way.” Sometimes it even happens in public, which is always a fun treat for me!

Nurse Moms learn not to react to these toddler meltdowns because it only makes things worse, just like it does with an irrational patient.  Unfortunately, I can’t call a security guard to help me with my toddler like I can with a combative patient (although it would be nice!).

A mother taking care of 3 children at home.

For the Nurse Mom, the poo never stops coming.

Nurses deal with a lot of poo.   Sometimes patients are incontinent, or they have diarrhea, or they just need help.  As a Nurse, it’s absolutely no big deal to clean and change adult diapers.  Its primary care, and it is essential.

After work, the Nurse Mom with little ones continues to deal with poo.  Therefore, poo pretty much exists in every aspect of their life, both at home and at work.  For that reason, I think the Nurse Mom deserves some acknowledgment.

But its OK.  Its just poo.

smiling nurse mom at work

Nurse moms never stop caring about others’ needs first – despite the many challenges they face.

Nurse Moms don’t sweat the small stuff.

Moms who are also nurses are usually more concerned about the things that might kill someone.

Sure, a broken arm would suck, and NO mom wants to see their child in pain.  But a broken bone won’t kill you.  Like, for example, falling out a window in a home that is not childproofed.

Nurse Moms make sure their homes are safe for their kids, but don’t helicopter parent them from ever injuring themselves.  Kids grow and learn a lot through play, and they are going to get hurt once in a while.  Minor injuries are a part of childhood.

Additional recommended reading:  Alternative Medicine: Unique Careers Within Nursing

Nurse playing with daughter and examining eyes

Nursing and motherhood are a work of heart!

Being a Nurse Mom makes me appreciate how lucky I am to have healthy children.

During my ER nurse training program, I got an opportunity to work in our pediatric unit.  I assure you pediatric nurses I worked with are nothing short of amazing!

Many pediatric nurses work with parents who practically live at the hospital for weeks, months, or even years at a time because their child is sick. A ‘normal’ crazy busy day with their child at home would be the best gift in the world.

The motherhood/nurse combination is a challenging balance (especially for the pumping mom!), but it is also an honor and a privilege that many women are grateful to have.  So next time you run into a Nurse Mom who looks tired, know that it’s possible that she hasn’t slept in a week.  And give her a high-five.

Additional recommended reading:

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