We know that breastfeeding is hard work. Breastfeeding and trying to maintain a career is even harder. We surveyed and asked for advice from various moms and complied this list of 25 Tips for breastfeeding moms who work. We truly hope it helps!
Before Returning To Work
- Meet/Call/E-mail your boss at least a week in advance to let them know that you will be pumping. Arrange a schedule and a place for you to have to pump. Know your state’s laws on pumping and working and try to come to an agreeable solution for everyone.
- According to the Affordable Care Act, employers are required to provide a reasonable break time, in a location that is NOT a bathroom, for one year each time the employee has a need to express milk; however, they are not required to compensate you for the time away while pumping. This law is not subjected to employers with less than 50 employees.
- Buy spare pump parts (tubing, membranes, etc) to keep at your office. This will make your life easier in case you forget something or something needs an immediate replacement.
Tips Once You’ve Returned
- Have a clearly defined pumping schedule and stick to your pump times as closely as possible for better milk production. Let your boss and close co-workers know of your schedule so there is no confusion as to what is going on and why you need to be away.
- You don’t have to wash your parts after you pump every time. Keep a tupperware container at work in the fridge or your cooler and use it to clean your parts at the end of the day. It keeps everything together and makes cleaning up easier.
- Keep pictures at your desk and videos on your phone of your baby and even a piece of your baby’s clothing to smell while you pump to help stimulate more milk
- Wear clothes that you can easily access your boobs at work or you’ll find yourself in your underwear pumping and praying no one walks in on you
- Ask to be made aware of any planned fire drills if your business has them so you can plan accordingly
- Try to focus on something else while pumping (work, social media, a hobby) instead of focusing on the amount that is being pumped out each minute
- Pump when/as often as your baby is eating away. For example – if your baby is having 4 bottles while you are away, you should try to pump 4 times
- While you are pumping, do breast compressions to get out as much milk as possible
- Eat foods that are great for your supply.
- Be open with coworkers. Most moms have found that being clear and precise about the importance of breastfeeding has created a better relationship in their workplace
Product Tips that will help you
- Keep a cooler with ice packs so you don’t have to put your milk in the communal office fridge
- Buy and use a hands free bra – this will also allow you to pump to and from your way to work if you have a long commute. Freemies are also great if you have a long commute (longer than 15 minutes)
- Make sure you are using the right size flanges – your nipples shouldn’t be too tight
- Buy a spare manual pump and keep it in your car in case you happen to forget your pump one day you have a quick backup solution
- Replace your membranes monthly
- Lube your flanges (coconut oil or nipple cream) so you don’t get sore, especially as you get used to pumping
- Invest in great reusable nursing pads so you don’t leak. There’s nothing worse than two big stains while you are trying to work around others
- Your first week back to work will be the hardest as you adjust to using the pump more, the stress of being away from baby, and getting used to being back at work. It takes time to establish a routine and pump amounts may vary. Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged. Just keep working at it.
- Fat content and nutrients changes depending on your baby’s needs and age. Therefore the number of ounces you pump doesn’t need to increase with breastfed babies like they do with formula fed babies. 1-1.5oz of breastmilk an hour is typical.
- Make sure your child’s care provider understands and is doing paced breastfeeding.
- Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for taking time to pump. While your job is important, feeding a human being is vital and you are doing the best for their life. Just remember, plenty of people take smoke breaks for as long as it takes a mom to pump and they aren’t being made feel guilty
- Don’t forget to eat and drink! Your body needs nutrients to convert milk for your baby!
- Working and breastfeeding is hard. Due to pumps not being as effective as a baby at removing milk, some moms may not be able to keep up with demand. We encourage you to verify that your pump is working correctly and seek out help from an IBCLC for advice first, but remember that every drop counts. If supplementation is needed, we are strong advocates for donor milk, then formula.
Lastly, join Working Moms Who Make Breastfeeding Work Facebook Support Group and you can also check out Kelly Mom’s links for advice on pumping and working.
These are just 25 tips that we found would be most helpful for working moms who work and want to continue breastfeeding. What things would you add to our list? Comment below and let us know!
Special Thanks to some amazing working moms for sharing their advice and for Lansinoh.com for use of their photo. Also thanks to the following bloggers for offering advice: Savy Mommy Moments, Mom’s Messy Miracles, From Wine to Whine, Nourished Simply, and Mommy Snapped.