7/7/12

Help, can I take my baby to Camp?


    

      What is a nursing mama youth worker to do at camp? Bring that baby or invest in a great pump. My cabin full of middle school girls are doing cabin cleanup. I am sure excess amounts of body spray are being spritzed all around the cabin. I am ditching out of a counselor meeting to walk a half mile up to main camp to do my "mommy thing" I have made my way to Chipmunk corner at Forest Home with my faithful black Medela Pump In Style backpack. A white rocking chair and a small room with grandma style floral wall paper peeling from the walls await the large amounts of breast milk I am desperate to express.

     How to pump at camp when middle school girls wonder why there are baby bottles but NO BABY in your cabin? 
"Why does your baby need milk? She isn't here." and 
"I wish you brought her to camp with you" are two most re-occurring comments from my cabin girls. My cabin of girls were hilarious as they caught on to what I was doing. The things they said cracked me up! 

Here are a few tips for nursing youth worker mamas:

1) Have back up. Let a fellow girl counselor or female camp staff know that you need to disappear a few times a day for expressing milk. They can help make sure someone is keeping an eye on your cabin.

2) Ask...talk to the camp nurse and/ or a female in charge and figure out a private place to pump, access to a fridge, and a microwave for sterilizing your pump pieces. Hint: I couldn't find those expensive Medela steamer bags at Target. I bought food safe vegetable microwave steamer bags and they worked just as great!

3) Schedule. After your first full day of camp you will figure out a consistent schedule of when the best times to pump are at. Camp runs on a schedule and most days are structured the same. If there is no mother's room at camp, you can look at the schedule to find times your girls are not in the cabin and do it there. Lock the door so there are no surprises.

4) Bring a water bottle. You need to stay hydrated to keep your supply up. Bring a water bottle that you can easily refill and tote around with you. The kitchen staff was more than willing to refill my water bottle before I left mealtimes, especially if there is a female working in the kitchen and you mention to her you are nursing a baby.  

5) Bring on the Fenugreek, it works wonders. 

6) Try and relax...bring pictures of your baby an ipod with music you love to help create a comfortable environment. If I was too stressed, distracted or worried the milk wouldn't let down as easily. I even had to give up one nursing session and return to it later. Nothing was coming out! When I tried again later, I had success. (This reminds me of something else, hehe...it's all a state of mind!)

7) Decide how often you are going to pump. I decided to pump only twice a day. I figured that was manageable and would keep my supply going for home. I also brought two sets of breast shields, connectors, valves and membranes so I could always have a clean set on deck. This allowed me to sterilize the pump pieces just once a day and not immediately after EVERY use.  

8) Do not store your breast milk in the same frige or cooler as your campers medication. The nurse shared this info with me. I had never thought of that before, but makes sense to me. 

9) Make sure to have a small cooler for transporting the milk home. Mine needed to survive a 2 hour bus drive home. My Medela cooler that came with my pump is not waterproof! It works great with ice packs...but with actual ice? Not so much! It leaked melted ice everywhere. Maybe the newer pumps come with better coolers. Thankfully I had a large ziploc bag to put the small cooler in. 

10) Enjoy your return home to your baby! Mine wouldn't stop nursing when I returned home. She refuses to take a bottle from me (only dad) because she knows I have the goods! She loves nursing and I found it to be a great way to reconnect after a week at camp...stomach flu and all! I did catch the stomach flu from camp and woke up the next day at home horribly ill. The baby caught it too, but hers was much less severe and breast milk was the only thing she kept down. Thankfully, I could accomodate and also have a nice stash in the fridge for dad to use too.  

5 comments:

  1. Anonymous2/28/2013

    I'm a youth director and my child will be one by the time I go to camp. My husband and I miss camp last year, our daughter was born the week before camp. Your title of this article asks a question but their is no direct answer. You mention pumping at camp so is your answer no, you can't bring your baby to camp? I'm just wrestling with this question myself and would like to know your thoughts. I have been told that if my child comes for even a day that I would be useless. Thoughts?

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  2. Can you bring a nanny or your husband to help with the baby? It depends on your church (do they seem negative about it?) the logistics of the camp (can you have your own room or guest cabin?) and how much help and volunteers you have. I have youth worker mama friends who have brought their babies to camp, so it is possible. I wasn't able to bring the baby to camp because of the size of our youth group. Just too many students to throw a baby into the mix. I think you are smart enough to multi task and plan enough ahead to not be useless!

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  3. Wow...awesome finding your blog. As we've been planning for our high school trips this summer, I began to panic as I thought about how on earth I am going to make this work. I have two youth trips this summer- one is a 12 hr. drive and the other is a 24 hr. bus ride. I will have access to refrigerators throughout the week, but I have no idea what to do while we are driving. Any advice for me? It's helpful to know that I'm not the only one out there.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow...awesome finding your blog. As we've been planning for our high school trips this summer, I began to panic as I thought about how on earth I am going to make this work. I have two youth trips this summer- one is a 12 hr. drive and the other is a 24 hr. bus ride. I will have access to refrigerators throughout the week, but I have no idea what to do while we are driving. Any advice for me? It's helpful to know that I'm not the only one out there.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I pumped milk on a youth group bus once! No one had a clue. I was sitting next to a female intern who helped "block" me. I had a blanket over me (looked like I was just cold) and all the guys were on the other bus. Breastmilk can stay fresh for long periods of time...8 hours at room temp I think (look it up online and see) and you can always pump and dump. A small handpump in a purse and a nursing cover does wonders. A cooler with dry ice can work well too. Good luck!

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