So, you’ve had the baby, committed to breastfeeding, and watched in disbelief as your weeks of maternity leave flew by. Now you’re digging through the closet for something, anything, work appropriate that fits and trying to figure out just how you’ll make this pumping-at-work thing work.
Well, mama, pumping at work has its challenges. But take comfort in knowing that many moms before you have done it, and you can, too. Check out the tips below to help you ease back into work and succeed at giving your baby the best.
1 | Practice pumping at home
Don’t let your first day back at work be the day that you try to figure out what size breast shields feel most comfortable or how long you need to pump before a second let down occurs.
A few weeks before you head back to work, break out your pump and get comfortable with how to assemble the parts, how to store your milk, and how it feels to pump. Knowing what pumping entails can help you feel more comfortable heading back to work.
2 | Block your calendar
Pumping takes time and, if you don’t block your calendar, your pumping time can easily be encroached upon by co-workers who don’t realize that a few minutes here and a few minutes there can seriously hurt your supply. Many moms need 20 to 30 minutes to pump.
Figure out what amount of time works best for you, and build in a five-minute buffer on either side to ensure you have the time to get set up and wash your parts after each session. It’s always okay to finish a little early, but you don’t want to feel rushed by giving yourself too little time.
3 | Identify your spot
If you’ve got an office, this is an easy one. If you’re in one of the many professions that don’t lend themselves to having a private space, you’ll have to be more intentional about selecting your spot.
Perhaps there’s a conference room or meeting room you can book regularly or an unused private space that you can take over for the next few months. If you’re having trouble finding a spot, reach out to your HR person for suggestions.
4 | Find your allies
Like anything difficult, pumping is easier when you’ve got a friend. If there are other new moms in the office, they’re probably down to chat about lactation cookies, Fenugreek, and the joys and challenges of trying to find a decent nursing bra.
If there aren’t any new moms in the office, you might find some unlikely champions in the form of older mothers or recent dads. Your champions are important because they’re the ones you know you can count on to cover for you in a pinch, whether it’s lending you their private office, pushing a meeting, or taking an unexpected client call when you’re not available.
5 | Know your rights
Since 2010, the “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law has enabled moms to go back to work and pump with success. This law requires employers to provide nursing mothers with a private, clean space (that is not a bathroom) to pump milk as needed.
Knowing your rights will give you the confidence to advocate for yourself if you feel like your rights are being infringed upon.
6 | Know who can help when challenges arise
Sometimes it seems that just when you get things figured out with breastfeeding, everything changes and new challenges pop up. When the going gets tough, you’ll want to know who you can reach out to for help.
Keep the names of a good lactation consultant, your local La Leche League leader, and your OB on hand.