On the blog today, are 5 top tips for pumping breast milk at work. Going back to work after having a baby can be a pretty crazy and stressful time for new moms. Add breastfeeding and pumping to the mix and it makes it even crazier.
I’m not a fan of mom judgment and all of that nonsense. Don’t women have enough to deal with? We’re running a household, caring for children, being a wife, mother, sister, friend…the list goes on and on. We need to support each other as best as we can, and to me that means not spreading mom guilt. I mention that because people have very different opinions on breastfeeding and formula. I’m in the camp of fed is best. What if someone can’t breastfeed? She might have had an illness, no milk came in, or she just wasn’t up for it at a time when so many other things in her life were changing (let’s face it – breastfeeding can be pretty damn hard). Who are we to judge?
I was lucky enough to be able to stay home with both of my girls until they were 5 months old. After a few visits to pediatricians and lactation consultants, we learned that my first daughter wouldn’t transfer milk while breastfeeding. She was latching, but for some reason wasn’t strong enough to pull the milk out correctly. Knowing that a lot of my friends breastfed their children and feeling the stress of wanting to do what was “best” for my baby, I made the decision to pump exclusively. This meant being strapped to a pump for quite a large portion of the day. As my daughter grew, she needed more milk so I needed to increase my supply by pumping more often. I have so many videos from when she was young where I can hear the whirring of the pump in the background. Anyone that has pumped before knows what I’m talking about.
Looking back, I realize this was a way for me to keep my focus on something that I could control during such a turning point in my life. I do feel happy and proud that I was able to pump and provide her breastmilk for 6 months. Looking back, however, I see that I put an extraordinary amount of pressure on myself and likely missed some fun moments with her as a result (being strapped to the pump and all that…).
I did pump for about a month after I went back to work. My job provided me with a mother’s room, which included a comfortable chair and a small refrigerator to store the milk. I’ve heard about quite a range of places that mothers have had to pump in – either at work or when they are out. Depending on your state the employer requirements for providing a room to pump in may vary. Also, some jobs have a little more flexibility for making a schedule that fits your baby’s needs. It may be a little more difficult with a job such as nursing or teaching. Another option is to supplement with formula when you’re away from the baby.
Here are my top tips for going back to work while breastfeeding/pumping:
- Keep all of your pump parts in a bag and pack them the night before. \Anything to save me time in the morning helped tremendously. Packing my pump parts the night before allowed me to grab my bag and go in the morning.
- Grab an ice pack in the morning to put in your bag – especially if you don’t have a refrigerator available to you at your office. This will keep the milk cold during the day until you can get back home to use or properly store the milk.
- Keep extra pump parts in your desk, otherwise, be ready to go to the baby store. The day will come when you forget a piece of your pump parts. For me, I always forgot the little white membranes. A small piece, but the pump doesn’t work at all without it. I eventually kept a small pack of extras in my desk so that if I forgot to put them back on my pump after cleaning it I still had some extras to use.
- Set a schedule. If you have an office job, block your calendar for the times that you plan to pump. That way you can keep your supply consistent by pumping at the same time every day.
- Store the pump bottles in a Ziploc bag. While you’re at work you most likely won’t have time to wash your pump parts. Keep them in a Ziploc bag and store them in the refrigerator. This will keep the leftover milk that is in the bottles cold and you can use the same parts for your next pumping session.
As with pretty much all areas of motherhood, remember to do what works best for you and your family. There’s no right or wrong way to go about this. If you’re trying to do something that is extremely stressful, it could decrease your milk supply and also be hard on the baby. Babies are very aware of their surroundings and their mother’s feelings so if you are stressed, they will be stressed too.
Here are some other great resources about going back to work when pumping:
Did you go back to work after having a child? How was your transition? Share your tips in the comments below!