However you choose to feed baby—nursing, formula or a combo of both—returning to work after having a baby is no easy feat. And, breastfeeding moms who plan to pump at work encounter a unique set of challenges. Turn your anxiety into confidence with our best tips and tricks for pumping moms returning to work. Many of our staff pumped when returning to the office and we’re dishing insider know-how from moms who have been there, done that. You got this, mama!
1. Fight for Your Rights
Fight for your rights to have a private place to pump. In fact, it’s federal law for employers to provide employees with reasonable break time and a place to pump that isn’t a bathroom. Read more about the federal law here and don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself to your employer.
2. Make It a Priority
Block off time on your calendar to pump and treat it like an important meeting. Be upfront with your colleagues that this 30-minute window cannot be interrupted or moved. If you’re nervous talking to your non-parent colleagues about pumping, think of it as you educating them about returning to work as a nursing mom and be proud that you’re normalizing breastfeeding and pumping.
3. Choose a Pump That’s Convenient, Comfortable & Effective
The Luna Breast Pump from Motif Medical is built for modern moms who want a pump that maximizes output, has a quiet motor and is covered by insurance. The Luna boasts hospital-strength suction with moms reporting that using the Luna means pumping more milk in less time. Other features include a backlit LCD screen for those late-night sessions, a night light, quiet motor and auto shut off. Learn more at motifmedical.com, buy it on Amazon or use their insurance lookup tool to check your insurance coverage now.
4. Keep It Consistent
Pump every time your child would nurse so generally 3 times a day, depending on your baby’s age and how often she eats. As always, defer to your pediatrician for feeding amounts and schedules.
5. Extra, Extra!
If possible, keep an extra pump, pump parts and pumping bra at work so you don’t have to haul everything back and forth from home to work every day.
6. Stay Hydrated
Most breastfeeding moms will tell you that staying hydrated is essential to keeping your supply up. Keep a big bottle of water at your desk and bring it into the pumping room with you. Forget to drink during the day? Some moms swear by water bottles like this one that reminds you of your intake by the hour.
Pro tip: our editor loves this water bottle for its convenience—you can use it one handed!
photo: Stacy Spensley via flickr
7. Eat Well
Pumping requires calories and keeping up a good supply requires that mama stays nourished. For eight snack ideas that require only one hand to eat, check out this post.
8. Bring Baby with You
Ok, you may not be bringing baby with you to the office, but how about the next best thing? Load up your phone with videos and photos of your little one to help you relax and “let down.” Some moms even watch a video of their baby crying or have a small item of clothing like a hat or shirt that smells like their child.
9. Stay Distracted
Our editors have said that the worst thing you can do is stare at the pumping bottle as it fills (or does not) fill up. Keep yourself relaxed and distracted by queueing up your favorite podcast to take your mind off the task at hand. If you’re nervous that you’re losing out on work time, some moms like to bring their computer in the room to write emails or surf the web while you do it.
Pro tip: one lactation consultant swears by this hack that covers the bottle when you pump.
10. Minimize Cleaning
Pump directly into storage freezer bags. If you’re not sure if your pump allows for that, check Amazon for adaptors. Our editors also suggest storing your pump parts in a ziploc bag and placing in the fridge. Wash everything at the end of the day. If you would rather sanitize every time, some moms like to clean the pump parts with a steam bag after every pump.
photo: Vertie via Pixabay
11. Label It
Bring a sharpie you can label milk with the date and number of ounces. Our Editorial Director used strips of painter’s tape, which she could easily peel off her reusable containers.
12. Transport in Style
Make sure you have a small cooler bag to carry pumped milk back home in. We love these PackIt freezable lunch bags—the freezer gel is built into the lunch bag so you don’t have to worry about transporting gel packs to and from work. Plus, baby can use this lunch bag when he gets to school age.
13. Ask for Help
We can’t tell you how many times our editor has sent her BFF texts in the middle of the night asking everything under the sun about pumping. If you don’t have a tribe to ask questions to, good news: there are plenty of online groups and websites you can turn to for help. From La Leche League to moms Facebook groups to local lactation consultants (ask your doctor for a referral), find the educational tips you need.
14. You’re a Boss
Remember that you can’t do it all and don’t feel guilty about being away from your kid, pumping not as much milk as you had hoped for or blocking off your calendar multiple times in a day to pump. Just take it one day at a time and know thousands of moms experience and feel what you’re going through right now. You’re not alone and you rock!
Have any more tips to add? Send them our way to editor AT redtri.com.
—Erin Lem, Amber Guetebier and Jennifer Silverstein