real talk with Jay Elle: the sisters behind our favorite pumping bag
the only thing we love more than supporting breastfeeding moms is supporting companies that make breastfeeding easier (and a little more beautiful). get to know jay elle:
A good pump bag is a necessity when you are a pumping mama. You need a reliable one that has all the features and, if you're anything like us, you'd prefer it didn't scream "breast pump bag"!
jay elle founders (and sisters) Kate and Sarah know those needs well.
As they both work full time and are away from their children during the day, they’ve been in the trenches (together). It didn't take them long to realize that motherhood is hard. And they didn’t just want to let it be hard. As business women and mothers, they wanted to do something to help others who were feeling just like them.
You see, these sisters didn’t just get into business to go into business. The desire to impact the world of pumping mothers is truly in their blood.
Kate and Sarah’s mother began the J.L. Childress brand years ago and her very first product was called the breast bag. That breast bag was the very bag their mother brought to and from work with her own expressed milk. Now, 30 years later, the need for working mothers to carry expressed milk is still there, just seemingly in a different capacity.
Kate and Sarah both agree that it is quite sentimental knowing moms today seek the same solution as moms in their own mother's day. They are working on a solution for this generation of mothers while staying in touch with their own mom, too.
The name jay elle is derived from J.L. Childress and the brand’s logo is actually their mother’s handwriting. “An ode to their mother,” they call it.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Kate and Sarah about their vision and passion and motherhood experiences. They, like us, have been there. They know what it is like to pump in crazy places, to have engorged breasts and to spill precious liquid gold. They’ve been away from their children, traveled with breast milk and have been advocates of Mother’s Rooms. They are in the industry creating solutions for pumping mothers and so we asked them to share a few stories with us.
WTF Moments (< - - - We love this! Kate might be on to something here.)
After breastfeeding and pumping for two kids for a combined total of 36 months, I’ve had plenty of mom-brain, lack-of-sleep, whatever-you-want-to-call-them episodes of pure forgetfulness and bad luck. Some examples: the multiple times I forgot my flanges and had to borrow a co-workers (a benefit of working with your sister), spilling fresh milk all over my laptop and one of my favorites, pumping in a Barnes & Noble bathroom because the restaurant I assumed would have a power outlet didn’t, and of course, the batteries in my pump battery pack were completely drained. Because of these “WTF moments” and several others, we decided to include a pumping checklist in the jay elle C.O.D.E. Handbook that’s included in every jay elle Breast Pump Bag set. I would have done a lot less swearing and eye-rolling if I had used a checklist!
Pumping multiple times Monday-Friday is an intense labor of love. I eventually came to accept and appreciate this daily ritual for its consistency, the ability to have a moment to myself and for the feeling of having an intense sense of purpose. Here are a couple tips that I gathered along the way:
· Elastic Hair Bands: Keep a couple in your pump bag at all times. Aside from the obvious of keeping your hair back, they were also extremely useful when I would forget bottles and/or the correct connector parts. For both of my kids, I pumped directly into bottles or kiinde bags. However, on those days that I would forget bottles or run out of kiinde bags, I would be stuck with zip-top milk storage bags (I always kept some extras in my bag) and no way to connect them to the flanges. Luckily, the elastic hair bands came to the rescue and I could use them to attach the milk storage bag to the flange.
· Wet Bag: To save time at the end of each pumping session, I would rinse my flanges, connectors and sometimes bottles (if I transferred from bottle to storage bag, I would use the same bottles at each pumping session) and simply place them in a wet bag and then in the refrigerator. The temperature in the refrigerator keeps the parts sanitized and I love the plain black color of the wet bag for discretion and the clear pocket for a business card so no one goes peeking.
· Relax: Easier said than done, but in my experience, this was a big factor to maximize milk production and for my own overall health and balance. Before starting to pump, take a long, deep, cleansing breathe. Close your eyes for 1 minute to become present and to recognize the amazing thing you are about to do for your baby. Use your phone to look through baby pictures while playing calming music or do a meditation. There are several free meditation apps... all it takes is your phone and your time. You are worth it!
It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere
When my son was 8 months old, I flew to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a Bachelorette party. I was breastfeeding and therefore pumping, and of course brought my pump with me along with lots of milk storage bags, ice packs, a cooler bag and all my pumping accessories.
I was planning to bring home every ounce of milk I pumped while away, as I had a hard time storing up enough milk to even be away from my son for 2 days (on a daily basis, he would drink more milk from the bottle than I could pump, so I would pump in the middle of the night when he was sleeping just to keep up with him).
When we were about 30 minutes from landing, I started feeling engorged and figured I could pump in the airport as soon as we landed. Little did I realize that getting through customs would take over 30 minutes, the airport bathroom was pretty disgusting and my ride arrived early.
So, I hopped into the car and rode 40 minutes to the hotel, not wanting to pump in the quiet car with just the driver and me (awkward!). My boobs were about to explode! I finally arrived at the hotel and was greeted by excited friends and my first 20 minutes in paradise consisted of chatting with my friends while hooked up to my pump.
Once I went back to work full time after having my son, I would often pump at my desk as I continued to work (I know, not the greatest!). I definitely multi-tasked as much as possible during the day.
Since I have my own office, it was easy for me to hook up to my pump while sitting and continue to answer emails, etc. One day I started pumping and about 5 minutes into the session, I noticed that my thighs felt wet. I looked down to realize that I had completely forgotten to attach bottles and had been pumping milk directly onto my thighs!!! UGH! I laughed at first and then I cried, realizing I had lost even a few drops of milk.
My jeans were soaked with breast milk and I seriously couldn’t believe that I was so forgetful. I realized that I needed a towel to cover my legs just in case I did this again, but also for protection from other spills, to help clean up and for a clean working surface. This is one of the reasons that every jay elle Breast Pump Bag includes a small dry cloth. As they say, no use crying over spilled milk!
Kudos to Kate and Sarah for the passion they have for pumping mothers.
If you have your own great stories to share, send them our way!