Author Topic: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: The breastfeeding/pumping stage manager  (Read 3936 times)

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vbskeeby

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I just read an article on the Equity website about this, but I thought I'd open it up for discussion here. I'll be having twins in Feb and will start rehearsals in May.  At that point I'll still be breastfeeding, but at least I'll have the process down. 

My question to the ladies who have stage managed and pumped at the same time - how did you do it?  I think I have a decent space for it (the AD's office), but I'm wondering about the timing of it all.  I'm on a Chicago Area Theatres contract and our weekday rehearsals are limited to 5 hours with only 10 minute breaks max, but we'll likely have straight 6's on the weekends with one 20 minute break.  My initial thought is to get to rehearsal wicked early, get set up, then take 15/20 minutes at 1/2 hr to pump.  Then I'll have 10 minutes to answer questions and get rehearsal started.  Then I could pump right after rehearsal as well.  If I need to pump in the middle of rehearsal, I could have my ASM take the lead on one break while I quickly try to pump and I could be available on my cell the whole time.  It's those quick ones that make me worry - often I barely have time to pee during a 10 because of questions and set/prop changes so I'd really need the ASM.  Does this sound doable?  I'm very lucky to have an extremely considerate director and very lovely company to work with.

Edit to subject line-Rebbe
« Last Edit: Sep 29, 2012, 01:10 pm by Rebbe »

echayes

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Re: The breastfeeding/pumping stage manager
« Reply #1 on: Aug 25, 2012, 08:17 pm »
I've worked with a PSM who has been pumping for the past 2 shows we've been on.  When we were in 6-7 hour rehearsals, she would have to take longer breaks while myself and the other ASM ran the room. This woudln't happen on EVERY 10 min break, usually just 1 or 2 of them.  And she'd try to pump as close to the start of the day and towards the latter half of the lunch break.

Hope this helps! Good luck! The struggle of women and mother SMs! 

ScooterSM

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Re: The breastfeeding/pumping stage manager
« Reply #2 on: Aug 26, 2012, 11:26 pm »
Unfortunately I don't have any helpful advice since I won't be worrying about this until February, but I just wanted to say that you are not alone in trying to figure out the balance of breastfeeding and SM'ing.  This issue is one of the highest on my list of things to resolve before I go back to work from maternity leave.  Let us know what you figure out! :-)
I've never been paid a lot, but the theatre has kept me, and for that I shall be eternally grateful. Tony Church

BayAreaSM

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Re: The breastfeeding/pumping stage manager
« Reply #3 on: Aug 27, 2012, 02:15 am »
One thing to know is that your child's schedule will change over time. Speaking as a PSM who just went back to work last week, though I do have my babe in the SM office with me for 2 more weeks before I go down to 2 days a week (I have an extremely giving office, and working in ballet, I don't need to be in rehearsal 5 days a week - and yes, I only work 5 days 9am-6pm).

As your baby gets older the feedings will start to spread out (except around growth spurt times) - which means you'll need to pump around every 2 to 3 hours. If your rehearsals are limited to 5 hours, that really shouldn't be that bad, especially since your 3 month old will most likely be in a 1.5 hr to 2 hour schedule. Your amount of actual pumping time will depend on the pump you have. (The amount you get out of a hand pump for 45 minutes is about the same as an electric pump for 15 minutes.)

My husband spent a day at home last week and I brought my pump with me. He called me for the first feeding, and I set up my pump at the same time. I was a little delayed for the second feeding, and due to a meeting with the CM, I missed the third feeding by about an hour. While I was at work, the baby ate 4 times while I was gone, and I only pumped 3 times. I fed when I got home and then my body was back on the proper schedule.

I highly recommend getting a double electric pump - and check local lactation centers - I am renting a hospital grade pump (quiet, fast, super clean and efficient) from my lactation center. Get a Pump Ease bra (I had to run out and buy the Medela one when I forgot mine and it's a BIG pain to work with) so that you can continue to work during pumping, if necessary. Granted, you won't be able to sit in rehearsal, but if you bring your laptop or need to make notes, you can pump hands free. (I sit at my computer and put a headset on my phone so that I can continue to work while pumping - though I also use a nursing cover to hide it all, in case someone walks into my office.)

So yes, this is totally doable. And, how long is your commute? You could feed right before you leave the house, then you should be good for about 2 hours. Pump on one mid-day break, have your ASM cover the first 5-10 minutes back (only pump for 15-20), then pump again after rehearsal. Spacing out the pumpings for 2 to 3 hours should be just fine. NEVER go over 3 hours without pumping, at least not with a 3 month old. You will become engorged and in an extreme amount of pain. Once your child gets older and their feedings space out, so can your pumps.

Feel free to PM me with any questions - I'm really interested in figuring out how to handle my pumping during techs. At least if I had to do it during a performance, I can pump during the 20 minute intermissions while my ASM gives the calls.

vbskeeby

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Re: The breastfeeding/pumping stage manager
« Reply #4 on: Aug 28, 2012, 03:27 pm »
Thanks for the info and suggestions!  We're definitely getting an electric pump.  There's no way I'd have the patience to sit and do it manually all the time.  Especially with 2.  I'll definitely check out that Pump Ease bra, though.

It's only about a 15 minute drive to the theatre plus 5 minutes to cruise for parking and walk to the space.  I'm totally fine getting there early and pumping after set-up so that I can go as long as possible.  Tech will definitely be interesting.

rvhead

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Re: The breastfeeding/pumping stage manager
« Reply #5 on: Aug 28, 2012, 03:40 pm »
I second the "thanks" for the info and would appreciate any and all tips/advice/words of wisdom for first-time stage manager moms! I'm scheduled to go back to work a mere two months after the baby's due, and it scares me to pieces! Luckily, I'm blessed with a great employer and a super supportive staff, but it's still a daunting prospect. Any helpful hints would be greatly appreciated!

BayAreaSM

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Re: The breastfeeding/pumping stage manager
« Reply #6 on: Aug 29, 2012, 12:58 am »
Ok - another helpful tip: buy pump wipes - Medela has them, and I've found them the cheapest on cottonbabies.com. The name of the product is: Medela Quick Clean Breastpump & Accessory Wipes. However, I can't find them on that site right now - I may have bought them out with my recent purchase. They sell them for $8.99 a package. Diapers.com sells for $9.10 and Target has them for $10 (though Target online has them for $8.99).

If you're pumping at rehearsal and already pressed for time, right after you pump you use one of these wipes to wipe off all of your pump items that come in contact with your milk. Let them sit somewhere safe to air dry for about 10 minutes and they are good to use again. Much faster than washing right afterwards. I've heard from a few moms that like to sit the whole shebang in the fridge in a ziploc, but I doubt many theater fridges have room for those. There should be room for your bottles. And the rule of 5's: it's good for 5 hours at room temp, 5 days in the fridge or 5 months in the freezer. But that doesn't mean after it's sat out for 5 hours you can then refrigerate or freeze it - you have to choose 1 of the 3. So I recommend getting a bottle cooler bag (or use an insulated lunch box with a gentle ice pack in it) to transport your milk from work fridge to home fridge.

Best of luck - and please do PM me if you have any questions. My guy was due on June 24, and I was scheduled to return to work August 20 - less than 2 months. However, he came on June 8, and that extra time has been unbelievably helpful.

And one more tip: Diapers.com - seriously. They are the cheapest when it comes to disposal diapers (cheaper than Costco) and will ship to you in 2 days for free (as long as your order is over a certain amount). I've never had to go to the store for diapers - highly recommended! Personally we love Huggies Little Snugglers.
« Last Edit: Aug 29, 2012, 01:00 am by BayAreaSM »

ScooterSM

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Re: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: The breastfeeding/pumping stage manager
« Reply #7 on: Dec 05, 2012, 09:45 pm »
One thing I just learned (and this is very US specific) is that part of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requires that insurance companies pay for breast pumps.  Your dr needs to write a prescription for it, but other than that it was really easy.  The pumps they pay for are usually similar to the ones in the hospital...
I've never been paid a lot, but the theatre has kept me, and for that I shall be eternally grateful. Tony Church

BayAreaSM

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Re: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: The breastfeeding/pumping stage manager
« Reply #8 on: Dec 07, 2012, 04:09 am »
Well, ladies, I thought I would come back to this discussion as I am in the midst of an incredibly heavy tech and a 3 week run. Here's what I am doing, and what I recommend, come tech time.

I work in ballet, so without being in tech I'm working Monday-Friday 9a-6p. I feed my son in the morning, then at least 1 or 2 times before bed. I get to bring him to work 2 days a week and I'm with him all day long on the weekends. I get to pump anywhere from 3-4 times a day. Now with shifting to a tech schedule, I'm working 6 days a week, 11:30am-11:30pm, and can't manage him and tech like I could working in my office on rehearsal days. This is a major shift for my body and for my son.

For tech, here's what I've figured out: arrive half an hour before your personal early call. For me, I have to be making calls to class by 11:30am, so I plan to arrive by 11:15am, so for my pumping, I aim to arrive by 10:45am. I arrive, answer questions, then close myself in my office at the theater and pump for about 20 minutes. After that I'm set until half hour. I personally make the half hour call, then I hand off my stopwatch to an assistant and immediately begin pumping for 12-15 minutes. Then I check in with my team and get to the tech table.

Now that my son is 6 months old, his feedings are spaced out, so I space out my pumps. I then sit through tech from 1:30pm-5pm without pumping. I have a wonderful benefit of my parents being in town for tech (we planned this months ago) so it's their job to bring him to me at the theater just before my dinner break starts. My son is highly distracted at this age, so I immediately try to feed him, then I end up feeding him a little more around 6pm. At 6:30pm my parents take him home and I do another pump at my next half hour call, 7pm. I then sit through tech from 7:30pm-11pm, get home around 12:15am and immediately pump again.

What this experience has taught me: I'm personally not making enough milk for my son to eat when he's not with me on tech days (stress can effect how much milk you produce). We've resorted to thawing frozen breast milk for him to have in addition to what I pumped the day before. I highly recommend in the 2 weeks before tech, pump after you put your child to bed and freeze it. It's recommend to freeze your milk in 2oz - 5oz servings, depending on how much your child is eating. It will really help you out in the long run - and relieve a bit of the stress of thinking you can't provide for your child.

My assistants are really great and both like my son - so I'm very lucky that they are comfortable with my pumping, feeding and helping make the calls for me while I'm pumping. You definitely want to work out a plan in advance with your team members and figure out the best times for you to pump during your tech. (And bring a nursing cover for pumping - it's the easy way to pump and sit in an office that resembles Grand Central Station without feeling totally exposed - and people just think you're wearing a really weird shirt.)

And note that getting ready to pump and cleaning up from pumping is not a 1 minute experience. Practice, make a plan, and get very familiar with your equipment. AND! Very important for speed: buy gallon ziplocs - after you remove your full milk storage bottles from your pumping horns - attach a clean bottle to each horn, toss it all in the ziploc and put it in the fridge with your milk bottles right away. You won't need to wash the pumping equipment after each use, as long as you refrigerate immediately after pumping.  Then wash it all after your final pump for the night.

Sorry for the long post, but I'm just coming off of day 2 of a brand new Nutcracker tech and I wanted to share this information as I was learning it.

Best of luck, ladies!

TarytheA

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Re: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: The breastfeeding/pumping stage manager
« Reply #9 on: Dec 20, 2012, 04:47 pm »
First, of all, congrats BayAreaSM!  I'm glad you were able to figure out things that worked for you/your team/your son.  I hope the show is going well.  And it is SO nice to hear others' experiences with this - sometimes I felt totally alone.  The lactation consultants would ask me when I had gone back to work and what my work environment was like, and I would have to say "Well, I work gig to gig, and my rehearsal/performance hours vary a lot, so...nothing is consistent.  Sorry I can't be more specific."  They didn't seem to know what to do with my crazy theatre schedule!

I had my first son at the end of January (AHHH! He's almost a year old!!!), and started rehearsals 3 weeks later.  BAD idea.  Now he was a week late, but still... So that's my first piece of advice to anyone out there.  TAKE THE TIME YOU NEED.  "It's just a human being small enough to fit inside my body," I thought.  "How hard could it be to take care of?  And millions of women have squatted to give birth in the fields, stood back up, and kept working.  How long could it possibly take me to recover?  A month should be PLENTY of time!"  Well, maybe I'm just soft, but I can tell you that I wasn't ready emotionally or physically to return to work.  But the worst part of it was my brain!  Nobody said I was doing a horrible job, and looking back on it I don't think I was, but at the time I really felt like I sucked as a stage manager.  I was used to being super on top of everything and all of a sudden my brain was a hot mess!  The hormones and the sleep deprivation turned my previously-organized brain into goop.  Nobody could have prepared me for what postpartum, in all its glory, really meant.  It is INTENSE, in many wonderful AND awful ways, and trying to throw work on top of such an intense experience was a silly idea.

Well, I know for next time.

But back to the point of this post - breastfeeding and pumping.  I found it crucial to talk to the director and my SM team beforehand to give them a heads up of what I would need, and come up with a game plan.  I found a quiet place to pump on breaks (I got permission to borrow someone's office who wasn't around during our rehearsal period), and we had code to communicate when I needed to "do my thing".  I would pump right before we started, and my ASM would field questions, and I planned to be finished about 5 minutes before we started so that I was available for anything last-minute before rehearsal began.  Since we were not under an AEA contract, I worked it out with my director to take one break that was longer than the others so I could pump once during rehearsal - and if I didn't come back right on time, my ASM called everyone back and ran things for a few minutes until I was finished.  I told them that I was available via text if absolutely necessary, but I found it extremely helpful during that 15-20 minutes that I pumped during rehearsal to pretend rehearsal wasn't happening.  I needed some time to "center" myself you could say, to just relax so I could go back to rehearsal refreshed.  I used my phone to play soothing music while I pumped, and sometimes I flipped through pictures of the baby to help get the milk to letdown faster and make pumping more efficient (though sometimes this made me want to cry because I wanted to be home with him instead of at work!).

During performances I was lucky to have the only other person in the booth with me be a girl, so during the intermission I was able to move away from the window and turn to face the back corner, and pump discreetly.  A couple of times I had to take care of urgent things during intermission, so I ended up having to pump while calling cues.  Not ideal, but it worked and the show went on.  Once I actually forgot my pump at home, so I bought a small bottle of apple juice from the vending machine, drank it/washed the bottle out, and hand expressed into the bottle.  Again, not ideal, but it's amazing how resourceful you get when you have to.

The second show I worked on, a few months later, I was backstage crew.  I admit, it was SO nice to go to work, come home from work, and BE home.  When I SM'd I was constantly doing paperwork at home and prepping for the next day's rehearsal and responding to emails, but when I was a crew member I had no responsibilities outside of the show.  But I went through a similar process with the pumping - I spoke to the appropriate people (in this case, my SM, her ASM, and the girl I shared a dressing room with - the crew was in costume for this show) and we came up with a game plan.  I was released of any intermission duties so that I could sprint downstairs, rip off the top part of my costume, and pump furiously for about 6 minutes on each side.  Looking back, I probably didn't need to pump quite so furiously - it made me rather sore and I think I created more stress than I needed to during those moments.

If I could have done something differently in regards to pumping, I definitely would have invested in an electric pump (or had my insurance company buy one!  I had no idea they had to!).  Maybe even a double electric.  We plan on having more kids, so I guess I'll have more times to practice!

As a final note, since we're talking about babies, I can't help but show off the Halloween costume I made for Jed.  He is the old man, Carl, from the movie UP.
"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
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BayAreaSM

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Re: WORK/LIFE BALANCE: The breastfeeding/pumping stage manager
« Reply #10 on: Dec 22, 2012, 02:41 am »
Awesome costume!

Yes, I have learned that by distracting myself and calming down, the milk production does come faster. As I have moved from tech into performances, I also learned that pumping during half hour doesn't work for me - but oddly enough, intermission does.

I pump anywhere from 90 minutes to 1 hour to curtain. I am completely relaxed and not worried about the show, as my Intern and PA are dealing with students (yeah Nutcracker!) and my ASM is fielding anything else. I then take care of all of my half hour calls and get us to the top of intermission. Once I call the House Up, I hand off to my PA who calls 15, 10 and 5. Once I hear his 5, I stop pumping, get everything into the fridge and make it back to my console 2.5 minutes later. I've found that by letting go and not rushing - (during intermission I just use his calls as my timer) - my milk expression at work has increased. Once the show is down, we generally have a backstage tour. I stay for 15 minutes of that, then I go back to our office and pump again. When that's done I lock up and head home - and pump again.

I have used a double expression hospital grade pump from the start and would never use anything else. Kudos to you for hand expressing! I definitely would not have the patience for that. And it is so important to take care of your body and drink tons of water during tech and performances. Keeping yourself hydrated, well fed and well rested (as much as humanly possible) will help with your milk production. My family still brings my son to me on dinner breaks, and we time it so that I feed him after my matinee, but I still pump before my evening show. It's hard, but it is possible.

I hope we hear from our soon-to-be SM Moms soon and hear how it's going for them!

 

riotous