Here is a little secret for you new mothers worried about pumping your breast milk when they go back to work: No one likes to do it. No matter whether it is your first child or your fifth, pumping at work is terrible. Breastfeeding itself if occasionally challenging, but making the transition back to work is hard, especially if your workplace isn't exactly supportive of new mothers. However, knowledge is power, or at least very comforting. If you are going to start pumping at work, here's what you need to know.
Know Your Rights
Typically if your place of employment has an HR person, you won't have to fight much over your right to breastfeed at work, but if it doesn't, then it is helpful to know what rights you have available to you. The 2010 Break Time for Nursing Mothers law has you covered. It states that you are allowed to take reasonable breaks at work to pump and employers are required to provide a private place to pump that is not a bathroom.
If nothing else, you have a right to those two things, but you will want to check in with your boss or HR person before returning to work to see what is in place for nursing mothers. If they are setting up a room for you and ask what you need, ask for:
- A small table and chair
- An extension cord
- A small refrigerator, if possible
What to Pack
There is nothing worse than getting to work and finding out that you have forgotten to pack something crucial, you know, like your pump. Before returning to work, create a pumping kit that keeps everything essential together so you don't forget it. This pumping kit should include:
Your pump. Obviously you will need it. However, be sure to pack it in such a way that everything is organized so you can get things done quickly.
Your pump parts. Bring spares of whatever your pump uses. Be assured that if it can break, it will.
Storage containers. This can be bottles or otherwise, but you need something to keep the milk in.
Icepacks. Breast milk needs to be chilled. You should also keep a zippered lunch box to store the milk in if you are keeping it in a communal refrigerator.
Breastfeeding clothes. You may have the right to a private place to pump your breast milk, but accidents happen and people can occasionally just walk right in. It is easy to pump when your clothes are savvy and chic with quick access like the Bun Maternity signature nursing tank or try the Bun nursing poncho as a cover. The Bun dresses are perfect casual office attire as well especially if you are double pumping.
Something to do. Let's be real, pumping breast milk is super boring, even more so at work. Bring a book or magazine, or just browse Facebook.
You have the right to take reasonable breaks to pump your breast milk, but because it is such a time-intensive task, the more efficiently you pump your milk, the happier your employer will be about it.
Pencil in pumping time. Treat pumping your breast milk like it is a meeting you have to attend. Don't move it around for other things either. It is a work commitment, so have a standing time each day to do it.
Pump when your baby would nurse. You may not realize it, but your body really likes to be on a schedule. Try to continue to schedule pumping time during times when your baby would typically nurse. This means that your milk will flow more easily. You'll keep your milk supply efficient as well.
Try double pumping. With a single pump you are supposed to alternate between each breast, but by using a double pump, you can pump more milk, faster. Although it does have the downside of making you feel a bit like a dairy cow, but it can cut your work pumping time in half. Medela has great pumps!
So go on and get your pump on mamas! You're doing great!
Wondering about some ideas on how to dress for work while pumping? Check out our look here...
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