Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pumping up the Jam

I started traveling for work about four weeks ago when my little buddy was 3.5 months old. I breastfed/pumped with his older sister for a year, so this again is my goal. I was lucky the first time around to have my own office and supportive co-workers who blocked my clinic schedule to allow me to pump during the work day. This time around, I’m learning on the job as I travel for work. In the last month, I’ve traveled to Ohio, Virginia, Connecticut, and throughout Massachusetts and have picked up a few tips.

First off, I couldn't find many suggestions for coolers, but I ended up finding one that I love.

My husband surprised me by purchasing "backpack fridge" and it has worked out fantastically. The
evrgrn 24 Pack Backpack has a giant slot to fit my laptop and can store my milk, tons of ice packs, my bottles as I pump throughout the day, and my lunch. Plus it's great for traveling through the airport. I take my cooler and my pump with me as carry ons and check my suitcase. And I look real cool, especially because the cooler is big enough for both my kids to fit in.

I’ve found it easiest to wipe down the bottles and pump pieces after each pump with the Medela Quick Clean Wipes and throw them in a large plastic bag. Then I keep the bottle refrigerated or in my cooler until the next pump. Once or twice a day, or when I have access to the microwave or a clean sink, I’ll scrub the bottles or steam them in the Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam bags. These bags are the best thing ever! I don’t know if they were around when I pumped with my daughter and if they were, I didn't know about them. I’m pretty sure they are better than sliced bread.

I quickly realized that it’s a good thing that I’m not shy as I pump on the road. I’ve pumped in my car twice using the nursing cover and hands free pumping bra, which by the way is my favorite prize to buy new nursing mamas. I’ve asked random people where the best place to pump and have discovered some not so bad spots. Yesterday I pumped in the surgical changing room at a hospital and I’ve taken advantage of empty office while making sales calls. I’ve also found the family bathrooms at airports to be pretty good because they have electric outlets. I’ll put toilet covers or paper towels down on the changing table to make a counter and I’m set. I also asked for a few extra sub bags and borrowed some ice from a Subway when I didn’t have cooler packs on me.

At hotels, I make sure to request a fridge and microwave if not already available. Most of the time, the mini fridges don’t have a freezer and if they do, they’re too small to fit all my freezer packs. Hotels are required to allow space in their freezers for milk and I’ve felt no shame in storing my freezer packs and milk. When I’ve been gone for more than one day, I freeze the milk before taking it back with me. Depending on how long it’s been out, I either keep it frozen when I return home or use it as soon as possible and freeze the newly pumped milk. According to the Mayo Clinic, pumped milk can be stored in an insulated cooler for up to one day. 

Another tip that I’ve found helpful is packing food. When I have 3-4 meetings scheduled per day and need to allow time to drive from location to location, any extra time in between meetings is used for pumping. Therefore, carrying a PB&J, Justin's Nut Butter packets, fruit, whole grain crackers, protein bars (I like Clif and Larabars personally) and yogurt, string cheese, or cottage cheese with me is super helpful. 

I have also discovered that I need to carry more water with me. I always have my 32-ounce CamelBak but I go through that in an hour when I’m talking a lot. I usually count on refilling it but have found water fountains a dying trend. I ended up buying 3 water bottles yesterday...I hate spending money on water.

In my experience so far, this is what I’ve discovered as my go-to pump packing list:
  • Medela Pump in StyleⓇ Advanced
  • Picture of the kiddo (I keep one in the pump to help me smile when I feel like I'm running around like a crazy person to fit the pumping in)
  • Permanent marker to label pumped milk (include name if storing in a public place)
  • Mini soap container
  • Large ziploc bags
  • evrgrn 24 pack backpack
  • Medela Quick Clean Wipes
  • Hands free pumping bra
  • Freezer packs
  • Extra batteries
  • Snacks
  • Water bottle(s)
  • Nursing cover
  • Milk storage bags (my favorite is Lansinoh)
  • Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam bags
  • Bottle brush
  • Travel soap dispenser

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Kiddo Snacks

I recently had my second child (4 months ago this week!), and my health and fitness goals are drastically different. While I still make it out the door to run five days per week, my focus has been balancing providing the healthiest (although far from perfect) meals for my family while working full time and traveling for work and pleasure. While my almost three year old has never been a big eater, she’s not picky. She eats like a bird so snack time is a huge opportunity for nutrition. I’ll admit that my daughter has had M&M’s for breakfast and French fries for dinner (I did cry inside while this was happening), but I try to avoid these on a regular basis.  I always have snacks with us (for her and myself – I’m ALWAYS hungry since I’m breastfeeding) and I’ve noticed if I only keep healthy ones around, my daughter will eat them. She sometimes whines and refuses them and as soon as she realizes the healthy snacks are her only option, if she’s really hungry, she does cave. Here are some of my staples:

Fresh fruit – I’ve found that if I bring some cut up fruit with us while out and about, it helps curb hunger or round out a restaurant meal. As a family we do like to eat out, and my daughter’s all time favorite food is Chipotle’s quesadillas, so I grab some fruit as we head out the door and she’ll munch on it in the car or while we wait in line. She’s thrilled to get a quesadilla, and I’m happy she ate more than cheese and white carbs for dinner. I usually keep cut up mango, melon (made into bite size pieces with my melon baller), grapes, or clementimes (when in season) around. She’ll also eat whole fruit – small apples, pears, and peaches - as well. I’ve even snatched leftover veggies (roasted Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and roasted broccoli are a fav in our house) for an appetizer while we wait for food at a restaurant. 

Dried or freeze dried fruit – Little boxes of raisins are in the diaper bag, my purse, the car, pockets, nooks, and crannies. We’ve also had good luck with freeze dried blueberries (with a side of wet ones) and freeze dried broccoli and pea pods (from Trader Joe’s). They add crunch like chips but maintain the fiber and nutrient benefits of fruits and veggies.

Kid-friendly bars – Bars are not ideal, but for our lifestyle and for my kid, they work. We oftentimes have to weave around meltdowns in the morning, so a Z-bar (Clif bar for kids) or a Larabar make a easy grab-and-go breakfast. Washed down with a glass of milk, the peanut butter cookie Larabar does the trick. My husband let’s the chocolate chip ones sneak into the grocery cart once in a while too. When I’m really planning ahead, half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich accomplishes the same goal. This has worked well as an early morning breakfast on the way to the airport.

Yogurt – My kid loves yogurt. She could spend hours in the yogurt aisle in the grocery store and thinks all the different shaped containers are actually different food groups. She usually hones in on the ones with candy or cookie toppings and after some arguing, we agree upon Chobani kids pouches (I love the pouches because they’re not too messy) or Stoneyfield tubes, drinkable yogurt, or cups. Obviously these snacks require refrigeration, but some yogurt pouches are shelf stable. Cheese sticks or Cabot cheese bars are also great to grab when a cooler is available. Last time we made a picnic lunch, the cheese bar made it into the middle of the PB&J sandwich….

Peanut butter or nut butter – Thank goodness my daughter doesn’t have a nut allergy or she’d never have grown out of her 12-month clothes. She’s tiny and as I mentioned before, not a huge eater, so I am a fan of this healthy fat to pack in some calories with not a lot of bites. She’s been know to double fist peanut butter spoons and loves almond butter as well. The peanut butter and almond butter pouches from Justin’s are a mainstay in our house. Sometimes the peanut butter gets on an apple, but most of the time it gets squeezed right into the mouth. Another messier snack, but they’re worth it for her enjoyment and my piece of mind.

Pouches – I always travel with baby food pouches. While these fruit and veggies pouches don’t still have the benefit of fiber, they still are full of vitamins and minerals and make a great snack on the go. We travel a lot to visit family, so the pouches help us in a hunger pinch or to round out a meal on the road. It’s also an aisle in the grocery store where my daughter gets to have some control; I’ll allow her to pick the pouches and she's in heaven.

What are your go-to snacks for your kiddos? What foods are always in the car or diaper bag? I'd love to hear more ideas!