Aug 18th 2009

Milk Nursingwear

Tips for Pumping Milk at Work

Are you planning to return to work after your baby is born? Are you back at work now and pumping during the workday? I pumped at work (and nursed during the workday at the onsite daycare) for the first year of my first daughter's life and there were certainly some challenges, especially since my employer at the time did not have a lactation lounge. I had to be creative to find a quiet and private place to pump and to make sure that breaks were built into my schedule for pumping. It was well worth it though - so here are my top 10 tips for pumping milk at work (and we welcome your tips too! Please click on the comment link below to share your tip or offer a comment):

1. Talk to your employer: Before your maternity leave is up, let your employer know that you plan to pump. This means that you will be taking a few short breaks during the day to pump, and you will need a private space to do so. Discussing it ahead of time will make you feel more relaxed about it when you return for your first day of work.

2. Find a space: Some companies have lactation lounges fully equipped with comfortable chairs, sinks, outlets and some even offer breast pumps for employees. If you are not fortunate enough to have such a facility at work - do not despair. What you need is a private space with a door that closes so that you can relax enough to pump. An unused or empty office or even a large closet that can be converted can work just as well. If you are not comfortable discussing this with your supervisor then talk to HR, they should be able to help you work this out.

3. Practice pumping: Start to pump at home at least two weeks before going back to work. Pumping is very different than nursing and getting used to it while you are home with baby and not transitioning back to work will make it easier and less stressful. Doing so will also give you a start on building up a stash of breastmilk in your freezer.

4. Choose the right pump: Consult with a lactation consultant to help figure out which pump will work the best for you. You may want to rent a pump before purchasing one so that you can try it out and make sure that it is right and working well for you before committing to buying one. If you plan to pump full-time at work you will be happiest with a double electric pump. Rest assured that the money you will save on forumla will cover the cost of the pump many times over.

5. Dress for it: It may seem obvious but when you get dressed in the morning remember that you will be needing to access your breasts for pumping many times during the day and you may not feel comfortable getting too undressed at work, even behind closed doors. Make sure that dresses have buttons down the front for easy access and that tops can be easily pulled up without looking wrinkled afterwards, or can be moved aside from the top. Choose fabrics that will be less likely to show stains if some milk happens to drip.

6. Wear nursing pads: Avoid embarassing situations by wearing nursing pads every day, so that if you leak during the day it will not be visible to others!

7. Don't multitask: While a working mom may multi-task during much of her day, I do not recommend taking care of work matters while pumping. You will find that the milk flows more freely if you are thinking about or focusing on your baby. Bring a picture of him to work to look at, or carry a clothing item of his with his smell. The more relaxed you are while pumping the more easily your milk will flow.

8. Know what you will need: The essentials are a breastpump, a cooler or refrigerator to store your pumped milk in and a place to wash your pump parts. I would also recommend bringing or storing at work extra milk storage bags, a change of clothes and a picture of your baby.

9. Running into roadblocks: Hopefully your supervisor will be supportive of your efforts and desire to pump for your baby. If not and you run into difficulties, talk to someone in HR, they should be more up to speed on supporting moms in the work place and your right and desire to pump.

10. Hang in there! Pumping is not always easy and requires a lot of dedication to keep it up. Rest assured that you are doing something wonderful for your baby by providing him with breastmilk. Talk to other moms who are pumping to help troubleshoot and get support - this will help! Feel proud of what you are doing and hang in there if it gets tough - you will be happy that you did!

Have you pumped at work and can you offer a tip to share? Are you going back to work and have questions to ask other moms? Please post your comments by clicking on the link below so you can help other moms!