Finding the lactation room or building a makeshift pumping area shouldn’t fall on your shoulders on your first day back at work. Instead, inform your boss or HR staff about your plans to pump and what arrangements are in place to make that happen.
I emailed my HR staff one week before returning about leaving a key to the room on my desk. I also called one of my co-workers who happens to use the lactation room, and her run-down helped me get a better sense of what to expect.
You may even be able to make requests if they’re building the room from scratch, such as a small refrigerator, an extension cord for your pump (so you don’t have to bend down to the floor), a table and comfortable chair, a folding screen near the door for any accidental walk-ins, and a computer if you want to work while you pump.
Pack the essentials
There’s nothing worse than going to work and realizing that you had forgotten to pack your pump parts. Keep a list (whether printed, on your phone or in your head) of these essential items to bring:
- Your pump. Make sure to carry it in a proper container so that it doesn’t break. You wouldn’t carry your laptop in a tote bag, so don’t subject your pump to a light-weight bag either. Unfortunately mine comes in a ginormous suitcase, but hey at least it’s well-protected.
- The pump parts. If you use Medela like I do, you probably want to bring a few of the white membranes and leave them at work. I’ve had situations where they tore and my godsend of a husband had to buy new ones at Target and drop them off at work for me.
- Bottles or storage bags. Bring enough for all your pump sessions.
- Ice pack and bottle bag. Keep your milk fresh by packing an ice pack and keeping the bottles in a bottle bag.
- Hands-free pumping bra. This was one of those “How did I live without this before?” purchases. I used to just rely on my nursing tops or bras to keep the pumps in place, but this hands-free bra has by far been amazing and convenient. Now my tops or bras (or boobs!) don’t have to be skewed to keep the pump parts in place.
- A breastfeeding cover. If you want to be extra-covered, bring a breastfeeding cover or a large receiving blanket.
- A smart phone, book or magazine. If you don’t plan to rest or work during your pumping sessions, make sure to bring some form of entertainment to keep you occupied. You can also use your iPhone to set a timer or to look at photos or videos of your baby while you pump—a technique long touted to help increase milk flow.
One of the biggest downfalls of pumping at work is just how time-consuming it can be. With a busy schedule, meetings galore and people to deal with, working moms can find it difficult to squeeze in a pumping session.
- The first thing you want to do is treat your pumping sessions as work commitments. Schedule time blocks on your calendar if you need to and treat it like any other meeting.
- You’ll also want to pump about the same times your baby would normally have nursed with you. This way, your body maintains the same schedule. And try to pump at least 20 minutes for each breast, even if milk flow stops towards the end. Pumping even if no milk comes out signals to the body to produce even more.
- Lastly, save time and use a double pump. Whether you rent or buy, get your hands on a double pump as this will half the time you spend pumping.
Keep your supply up
Pumping moms swear by many methods on increasing and maintaining your pump supply. Eating oatmeal, drinking Mother’s Milk Tea and downing a ton of water are some of the methods I use. You’ll also want to make sure you’re consuming enough calories to produce milk. An extra 500 calories a day is best (or 1,000 for twin moms like me).
What do you do to simplify pumping at work (or elsewhere)? Let us know in the comments below!