5 Helpful Tips for Pumping At Work
Although pumping while at work is challenging, there are steps you can take that will make it seamless.
5 Tips for Pumping At Work
Knowing what to expect and preparing for pumping breast milk at work will help make your pumping journey successful.
1. Know You Have Additional Rights As A Lactating Mother
The U.S. Department of Labor protects employed lactating mothers in that they have the right to work adjustments for a year after giving birth to pump at their place of employment.
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to give a reasonable break time for nursing mothers to pump breastmilk whenever a mother needs to do so and provide a private pumping room. A bathroom is not considered a private room to pump in.
2. Create A Pumping Plan
Creating a plan is one of the most important parts of being successful while pumping at work. You want to create a plan and a pumping schedule that works for you and your goals.
If you want to keep your milk supply up, pump as often as your baby eats is suggested. This will vary depending on your baby’s age. That means, if you go back to work when your baby is 3 months old, you will probably pump more often at work than if you went back to work when your child is 9 months old.
Many mothers like to have a set pump schedule that doesn't change. In this case, I would plan to pump at an interval that allows you to feel comfortable throughout the day. No one likes the feeling of engorgement. For example, you could pump every 3 hours which would mean you pump 3 times during your work day. Once in the morning, during your lunch break, and in the afternoon.
Most women are able to have a pumping session that lasts 15-30 minutes. This depends on how quickly you let down and what type of pump you choose to use. For the quickest pump session, a double electric pump is the most efficient way to go as you can pump each breast simultaneously.
Remember a pumping session typically includes the time to pump, put your clothes back on, clean your pump parts, and store your milk. Practicing this at home will give you an idea of how long each pumping session needs to be.
3. Discuss Your Needs and Plan With Your Employer or HR
Once you have picked your pumping schedule and know how long you need for each pump session let your employer or HR know.
Your employer will tell you where their lactation room is and will alter your work schedule to accommodate your pumping schedule.
If the location where you are pumping doesn’t have the capability to be locked, ask your employer to provide you with a sign that lets others know you don’t want to be disturbed. Another thing to consider is if this location has access to an outlet. This will help guide you on what type of breast pump would work best for you.
Finally, figure out where you will store your breast milk. Will you have access to a refrigerator or will you need to bring an ice chest to work?
4. Spend Time With Your Breast Pump
Knowing how to work your pump and how to put your pump parts together is important for success while pumping at work. For many mothers, up until they return to work, they have just nursed their infant and haven’t used their pump once.
Using a breast pump isn’t hard, but there is a learning curve on how to use it and put it together. You don’t want to be frustrated at work because you haven’t spent any time with your breast pump.
A double electric breast pump is the quickest way to express milk when pumping at work. It allows your pumping sessions to be as efficient as possible because both breasts are being expressed at the same time.
5. Create A Relaxing Environment
Having a relaxing space is important for milk production while pumping at work. If you are stressed out you may not produce enough milk and your milk supply may tank.
For some women being in a quiet location getting to scan Instagram or Facebook is enough to get their breast milk flowing but for others, it may be a bit trickier.
Some ideas to get that liquid gold flowing are:
- Bring a photo of your baby to look at while you pump
- Watch videos of your baby on your phone
- Listen to music that relaxes you
- Bring an article of clothing that smells like your baby
- Use a hands-free pumping bra so you can multitask
Things to Pack in your breast Pump Bag
There are a handful of essential items to pack in your breast pump bag. Here are some helpful items to pack:
- Hospital-grade pump and breast pump parts including your charger
- Hands-free pumping bra
- Infant/toddler towel to protect your pants while pumping
- Ceres Chill or an ice chest with ice packs and breast milk storage bags
- Water bottle
- Nursing pads
- Extra shirt
- Wet bag to hold breast pump parts when not in use
- Hand Sanitizer and cleaning wipes
Tips for Pumping Breast Milk At Work Wrap-Up
Breastfeeding is wonderful and continuing that journey while working can be challenging. You can mitigate these challenges by creating a pumping plan, practising that plan, and making it as relaxing as you possibly can.
Letting your employer know your needs helps ease this transition. They will provide you with a private space, and reasonable pumping breaks.
Don’t forget to pack all the necessary items in your pump bag! Being prepared is half of the battle.
And momma take the time to enjoy your pumping break while at work and know you got this!