Breastfeeding is a journey for all mothers. For working moms there is an added layer of complexity to think about: where to store your milk, where and when to pump, and transporting your milk. I breastfed my son for 15 months even when I had to go back to work whenhewas three months old. During that time I pumped at work.
If you’re thinking of pumping at work, here are some tips to make the process a bit easier:
- Know your rights. Every state has different rules about where you can breastfeed and the Affordable Care Act put in place certain norms about pumping breaks for working mothers. For example, the ACA explicitly states that a space must be provided for working mothers, and this space SHOULD NOT be the bathroom. If an employer says you should pump in the bathroom, refer them to the statute.
- Get informed before going back to work. Have a conversation with your employer about your plans to pump at work and discuss break times, pumping rooms and where you can store your milk. You might want to invest in a small refrigerator (to put under your desk) so that you can keep your milk separate from the communal fridge.
- Seek support. Support is key! I couldn’t have breastfed without the support of girlfriends who had done it and helped me. Here are other ways to get help:
- You can also join a La Leche League meeting or a Meetup in your neighborhood.
- Thanks to the ACA, lactation consultants are covered under insurance (as are breast pumps.) You should contact your insurance carrier to find out the details. I didn’t have access to a lactation consultant when I was breastfeeding, because it was not affordable, so this is great news.
- There is also the National Breastfeeding Helpline: 800-994-9662.
- Check out the Women’s Health website.
- Practice pumping before you go back to work. I started pumping while I was on maternity leave and starting freezing milk so I’d have some backup. Practicing will get you comfortable with the process so you’re not learning when you go back to work. Also, by freezing milk and building a stash you won’t have to worry about the days when your milk production is a little off or if anything happens (like you have a late meeting or a commuting issue and your baby is hungry.)
- Keep extra breast pump pieces at work. On occasion, I would forget the pieces to my breast pump at home. Of course, this can be stressful. So keep some in your office so you are prepared in case you run out of the house without them. Think extra bottles, lids, and other pump parts.
- Drink a lot of water. Breastmilk is mostly water, so it is important to keep hydrated. This will help your milk production.
- Have appropriate clothes. Think easy button down shirts or nursing t-shirts that will make access to your breasts easy and quick. Don’t wear anything that is a pain to undo and then put back on; it will just stress you out.
- Don’t forget nursing pads! Nursing pads will help avoid an OMG moment (leaky breasts during a meeting.)
- Don’t expect to lose the baby weight while nursing. I found that there were about 10 pounds I kept on until I stopped breastfeeding. I’ve heard other mothers say the same. This is natural. The body keeps on the weight to help with breastfeeding. Don’t go crazy dieting while you are breastfeeding, but make sure you eat healthy.
- Don’t stress. Stress is your enemy. This can impede your milk flow… I didn’t believe this, but it is true! Try to relax. Being prepared and knowing when you’re going to breastfeed (time and place) and getting your pump ready the night before might help you be ready and stress-free in the morning. You can also keep a pump at work if you think that will make it easier. If you’re having a hard time with let-down, try looking at a photo of your baby.
What other tips do you have for pumping at work? Share them below!