Today, many breastfeeding mothers are also working mothers. The thought of making the immense effort to pump at work - on top of leaving baby and working - can be intimidating to many women. Further, the reality of being a breastfeeding working mom can be discouraging and is often the cause for ending the breastfeeding journey early.
But pumping at work doesn’t have to be unworkable or scary. We’re here to offer some helpful information to make that transition a lot easier.
1. Know your rights!
One of the first steps in building the confidence you need is understanding how you are protected by the law.
Since the federal “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law was established in 2010, breastfeeding mothers have had a much smoother transition when going back to work.
How does this law protect you as a breastfeeding mom? In short, a company with over 50 employees shall provide a reasonable break time (paid break is not required) for a nonexempt hourly employee to express milk for a child of up to 1 year old. The employer must provide a private place - other than the bathroom - for the mother to express milk. Many employers have installed "mothers rooms" with furniture and appliance that will give pumping employees clean, comfortable places to pump.
To find out more about how the law protects you, visit www.usbreastfeeding.org
2. Plan ahead! Communicate!
A common cause of stress is due to lack of planning and communication between employee and employer. While you do not need to disclose your plan to breastfeed before hand, it is in your best interest to share this information with your employer. Communicating with your employer about what your needs will be can help your employer be prepared to accommodate you upon your return. Do you have a regular schedule? Set up break times so that your employer can be prepared to have coverage for you while you are away pumping. Determine where the pumping location will be. Is there a safe place to store your expressed milk?
Imagine how much time and anxiety you will be spared on your first day back to work, and how confident you will feel when you know this information ahead of time!
3. Double up!
One struggle that moms face when pumping at work is forgetting parts at home. If at all possible, have 2 pumps - one that you can safely leave at work or in your car and one for home. Keep soap, a cooler bag, breast pads, and milk storage containers/bags with your work pump so that you have everything you need.
4. Bring a photo!
A photo? For what? Some women have a hard time responding to the pump. It has been said that when a woman looks at a photo of her baby, or even has a shirt or something with the baby’s scent on it that pumping can be more successful.
5. You don’t need a freezer stash!
Many moms stress over not having a huge freezer stash of milk when they return to work. Of course, if you have an abundance of milk and are able to build a stash that’s wonderful. Knowing that you have an emergency (or crazy deadline), your baby would have lots of milk is a great feeling. However, in most cases a big stash isn’t necessary. Pump a day or two before your return to work. Ensure that your baby has about 2oz for every 2 hours you are gone. So if you are gone for 9 hours a day, you should plan to leave about 18oz of expressed milk. If you are pumping 4oz per session, you will go home with 16oz of milk for the following day and will need to pump at home, probably right after a feeding.
You’ve got this! It may take some practice but you can do it!
Here are some of our favorite guides:
We hope these tips will give you the confidence you need to have a successful return to work! Best of luck on your journey. Please stay tuned for our next blog post about when your baby refuses to take a bottle.