× MCAT & USMLE

Pumping breast milk during Step 1

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6 years 2 months ago #88410 by AmmaMD
For my first, pumping was faster (slow nurser), for my second, nursing was faster (even though my pumping was faster that time around, too). He ate like it was a race.

This whole kids-are-unpredictably-variable thing sure makes it darn hard to plan, sometimes....!

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6 years 2 months ago #88413 by bluebird
I know! I wish they would be more predictable :) I guess that's what makes it fun, though.

I know I won't really know what I'm dealing with until a few weeks before the test, but at the same time I feel like if I end up needing some sort of accommodation, I need to get on it soon. It sounds like I should be ok, though. I just don't want to hurt my performance on the exam because it's been too long and I'm bursting.

Once the little one gets here, I'll practice assembling and disassembling the pump and see how long it takes to get through a pumping session vs a breastfeeding session so I can plan ahead.

Thanks so much to everyone for sharing your experiences!

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

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6 years 2 months ago #88414 by southernmd
Practicing helps a lot. I felt dumb practicing how fast I could be setting up, taking down and packing, but it made a big difference in my time and ability to get a good pump in.

Good luck! You'll figure out what works for you!

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6 years 2 months ago #88415 by asunshine
Maybe I am an outlier here, but I took step 1 while pumping for an 11 mo old and found it unpleasant. I am a slow test taker, and slow to let down for the pump, even though I was pretty engorged and leaking through my pads. I was able to pump once during the whole test (~25") because I wanted to save time for bathroom breaks between blocks.

Definitely practice set up and take town; you won't have time to fully wash the parts, so don't worry about it. Have everything preassembled and have a car charger as backup. My testing center only had 1 bathroom, so I did not want to hog the bathroom since other people would be needing it who were also pressed for time. I pumped in my car with a cover and had everything ready to go. Also--go through the tutorial on the USMLE website so you can cruise through it on test day and buy yourself some extra break time. Remember that signing in and out will also eat up a few minutes of your time during your break.

I have next to zero faith that the NBME will make any accommodations for you unless you live in MA. They fought that case tooth and nail. This is their official statement:

"On April 13, 2012, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued its opinion in the matter of Currier v. National Board of Medical Examiners. We are carefully reviewing the court's opinion. The NBME understands the needs of breastfeeding mothers and does not dispute the merits of breastfeeding. Our first priority continues to be protecting the health of the public by ensuring rigorous and consistent standards for assessing the competence of physicians and other healthcare professionals." www.usmle.org/announcements/?ContentId=95

No promises there, even though they lost the case!

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6 years 2 months ago #88417 by bluebird
I read the court verdict and it was pretty clear that NBME needs to provide extra time for breastfeeding moms, but NBME seems to be dragging their feet on implementation and sadly, I don't live in MA.

The pump that my insurance company is providing for me is battery powered, so luckily I won't need a power outlet to pump. I'm a little afraid, though, that the stress of the test will make it hard to relax and get my milk to let down.

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

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6 years 2 months ago #88458 by PeggySue
I'd suggest pumping at least once per day for a few weeks beforehand so you get used to the pump, setup, etc. Even pumping a few mins on the day of the test should help with comfort.

Also a note, I found that I would get anxious if I had gone too long without pumping/breast feeding, especially in those early months. My guess is some sort of hormonal thing.

I pumped in the bathroom during my step 3 when my baby was 5 months old. No problems at all. You can make it work!

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