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Pumping breast milk during Step 1

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6 years 7 months ago #88393 by bluebird
Hey everyone! I'm a current M2 and excited to be having a baby girl in March. I'm also scheduled to take Step 1 at the end of June (as late as possible at my school). When I asked the NBME about my options for pumping breast milk during the exam, they told me that I can bring my pump, but I will only be able to pump during my breaks (45min total). Since this is my first baby, I have no idea whether that will be enough time (especially since those 45min also include lunch and bathroom breaks). I will have a hospital-grade double electric pump with a hands-free pumping bra. I saw that NBME lost a lawsuit last year over not granting a breastfeeding mother additional break time to pump, but it looks like they are still working on updating their policies.

Does anyone have recent experience with this?
Will 45min be enough time to pump for a 3 month old? If so, what is the best way to split up the time?
If I could convince them to let me pump during the exam (not just on breaks) would that work, or is pumping too much of a distraction?

Thanks!

I love my dog and my chickens. They are much less demanding than professors or patients.

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6 years 7 months ago #88395 by southernmd
During the exam is way too much a distraction. Your fellow test takers would really be pissed!

I had a 7mo old and pumped during step 1. I pumped in my car under a cover before the test. Then I took quick five minute breaks to clear my head then four hours into the test - pumped with a hands free bra and ate lunch using 20 min. Then cont to take five min breaks after sections til I finished. Then pumped again right after.

I pumped every three hours normally, so every four for one day wasn't horrible. It worked just fine.

You'll be fine. You don't need extra time - I had plenty!

On my phone or I'd write more.

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6 years 7 months ago #88397 by AmmaMD
I think this varies from person to person - ideally you would want time to pump twice during the test with a baby of that age, probably, and it would be nice to have at least 20 minutes each time, not including getting to wherever you're going to pump and all the time signing in/out of the test. Some people find it pretty easy to pump in 10 minutes, for some people it's harder. So, if you were able to get more time, that'd be lovely.

On the other hand, while it's lame to on top of everything else be distracted by feeling like you're overdue to pump, and then being rushed when you do pump, I think you'll find that you CAN go 4 hours ok if you have to, and that even if you don't pump quite as much as you would like that whatever you can pump in 20 minutes or even 15 min will be enough to let you feel better again when you get back to the test. So, it may be nonideal, but it won't be a terrible.

So, all in all, my take would be that if there were a way a couple of phone calls and letters could buy you a little extra time, that'd be worth it - but if that doesn't work out, you'll be fine.

(But do make sure you can eat and drink while pumping - that part will matter!)

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6 years 7 months ago #88406 by jonesie
Is having your babe brought to you to nurse in any way an option? I pumped during step 2, but for boards i had my husband (who is truly amazing) hang out near the test center with our 3 week old (yes, i am completely insane) - that way i just nursed during breaks - she's not likely to turn you down, and theres no setup/cleanup/etc

Just a thought, but requires another person :)

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6 years 7 months ago #88407 by bluebird
Thanks so much for all the tips!

Is directly breastfeeding faster than pumping? I had assumed that pumping would be faster because I can drain both breasts at the same time. My mom is coming to visit for 3 weeks right before the test to help while I study, and my husband has offered to bring the baby to school so I can breastfeed, so having one of them bring her to the test center should be possible...

How long does it take to set up and take down the pumping equipment?

I saw that NBME was sued a few years ago over not providing breastfeeding mothers with extra break time to pump, and the mom won. The Massachusetts supreme court ordered NBME to provide breastfeeding moms with extra break time in a ruling released in April 2012, but when I emailed NBME to ask about it they said they don't give extra break time after all... I'm totally confused.

I love my dog and my chickens. They are much less demanding than professors or patients.

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6 years 7 months ago #88408 by southernmd
It took me 10-15 minutes to set up, pump both sides and take down...but clearly this seems to be nonstandard. I practiced a bunch before clerkships started. I don't know. It just wasn't that big of a deal.

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