Working mommas, there is no way around it. If you are breastfeeding, you have to pump in the workplace. Obviously, it isn’t as comfortable as pumping in your own house, and God knows it isn’t as rewarding as actually nursing your baby, but I can assure you it is worth every effort you put in.
Pumping took commitment, consistency, and preparation, but even the most unorganized mommas can totally nail it with these top tips.
+ My Pumping Snapshot +
I delivered Barrett at the tail-end of grad-school, and had to complete my internship before graduating. My internship required me to be a student teacher in an elementary classroom. I had all of the same hours as a regular teacher, and it was a semester long. I started my student teaching opportunity when Barrett was 4.5 months old. I was extremely nervous about pumping because I had heard you take a dip in your supply when you go back to work, and I had a difficult time producing milk already!
Teachers don’t get breaks throughout the day like you may think, and it is pedal to the medal until they leave for the day. Finding time to pump was stressful as I knew I was requesting breaks that normal teachers and especially student teachers were not given. Fortunately, my cooperating teacher worked with me and was very understanding. I pumped in a storage closet surrounded by cinderblocks with no cell reception (Yes, I know, first world problems.). It was not glamorous or a laid-back break by any means.
+ First things first, know your rights +
It can be SO stressful to return from maternity leave and have to ask for special breaks to pump, but The Affordable Care Act, which was passed in 2010 is on your side! The Department of Labor requires your employer to provide a place (other than a bathroom), that is shielded from view, and intrusion so you can pump.
So, do not under any circumstances feel intimidated or scared to ask your employer for this “special” treatment. It is your right as a mother, and you aren’t the first mother or the last. You gotta do you, and you gotta do baby. Just remember to kill it when your not on your pump breaks because that is only fair to your boss.
Most employers are very understanding. That being said, any negative attitude you may get, just brush it off. Your boss will either be in your shoes, have a significant other in your shoes, or have another employee in your same shoes down the road. So, they can just pound sand.
+ Consistency +
This is vital to your pumping success. Always pick the same times everyday to pump. Pick whatever times work best for you and your baby because you want to trick your ta-ta’s into thinking you are actually feeding your baby when you are pumping. So, ideally when your little one gets a bottle, you also pump. It is rare for a baby to go past four hours without eating at this young of an age, and most babies eat every 2.5-3 hours. Mimicking your babies feeding schedule his will ensure your milk supply keeps flowing.
I didn’t set an alarm, but my girlfriend sets a reminder on her Outlook calendar 15 minutes before her pump time. It is so easy to get busy on the phone and miss your window. Whatever you do, do NOT miss a pump session, or at least do not make a habit of missing it. This will obviously cause you to have ta-ta’s made of stone, but will more importantly cause you to produce LESS milk. So, bottom line…If your baby is taking a bottle, you need to pump.
+ Logistics of Workplace Pumping +
What about all of the packing of parts, lugging your pump around, and storing your milk? I got your back on that, too!
Washing and packing your parts is a great thing for your man to do for you. It will be lifted off your mounting plate, and a great way for him to show his support of your efforts. Just ask him, and see if he would be willing to take that on every night. Don’t forget to thank him daily for this labor of love.
If he doesn’t have the time or desire to wash, sanitize, and pack your parts that is totally OK, too! I recommend preparing for the next day the night before, rather than during the stress and hustle of your morning. It feels good to have it all ready to go, and it is one less thing to worry with in the morning.
Medela steam bags are your f-ing life saver. They come out to about a dollar a bag, and you can use each bag 20 times. They are stupid cheap (purchase here), so stop boiling your parts in a pot of scalding water because it’s 2016.
Spend money where your time can be saved!
It is beyond simple. Just combine water and your washed parts in the bag, pop it all in the microwave, lay the parts out on your drying rack, and voila all of your parts are sanitized. Thanks Medela!
I chose to pack all my parts in a grocery bag everyday, but my girlfriend recommends getting a cute pump bag to carry all your goodies in to make it a little more fun! Anything works. Just use the same bag. I kept a checklist in mine of all the things I needed to remember.
- Bottle Caps
- Freezer Bags
- Cooler Ice Pack (crucial if you don’t have a fridge!)
- Cooler Itself
- Pump (this is the pump I used & loved)
- Pump Power Cord or Battery Pack
- HANDS-FREE PUMPING BRA
My bestie also just dumped the water out of her steam bag, so her parts would dry and then would just take the steam bag with her to work.
I’m a little too anal for such easy solutions like this. My parts had to be perfectly dry, packed in Ziplock bags, and only then were they placed in a grocery bag.
+ Life-Changing Essential Pumping Accessory +
So, my number one momma product I absolutely couldn’t live without? A Medela hands-free pumping bustier/bra. Rather than holding both shields to your breasts you suddenly have TWO hands to do whatever you want for those 20 minutes! The world is suddenly your oyster! GET THE BRA! Game changer.
Now you are prepared to take pumping by storm! If you have additional tips or questions I would love to hear from you below.