A Guide to Pumping at Work

Breastfeeding while going back to work isn’t easy. Chances are you’ll have a love-hate relationship with your pump and at times, you’ll want to throw in the towel. The key is to remember that the benefits of continuing your breastfeeding relationship greatly outweighs any headaches that come with it. Here are a few tips to make the transition to pumping at work a little bit easier.

A Guide to Pumping at Work

It’s all in a day’s work when you’re a working mom!

Store some milk before you go back to work. Unfortunately you won’t be able to pump as much as your baby would be able to remove, so making sure you have some extra is always important. Pump a little bit each day for a week or two before returning to work, and try keep at least 16 ounces in the freezer for emergencies. Overestimate how much baby will need on your first day back at work to be on the safe side.

Be prepared for a drop in supply. Leaving your baby for the first time to go back to work can be stressful, and stress can cause a drop in milk supply. For some women the drop is only temporary as they get accustomed to being back in the workplace–for others the drop in supply is permanent. Make sure you are eating as many milk producing foods as you can and take a supplement, such as fenugreek, if you notice a decrease in supply. Be prepared with a nutritious, protein-filled snack to eat while you pump.

Keep a change of clothes at work. Engorged breasts come with the territory when it comes to pumping at work. Breast pads are great at preventing accidents, but sometimes not even those are enough and you might need to change your shirt if you have excessive leakage. Most mothers I know, myself included, have also had at least one incident where they spilled breast milk on themselves, so having an entire outfit to change into can come in handy.

Know your rights. Before returning to work, talk to your employer and let them know that you plan on pumping and how often. Allocate about 20 to 30 minutes for each pumping session so that you have plenty of time to assemble, pump, disassemble, and then clean up. You may want to discuss taking two thirty-minute breaks instead of a long lunch break. The National Conference of State Legislatures has a comprehensive list describing state laws, and the United States Breastfeeding Committee is a great resource for questions regarding workplace support for nursing mothers.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby. Visit her blog and website at JacquelineBanks.com.



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