Congratulations! You’re the proud mother of a lovely new baby. You’ve done it! Now comes the exciting part. You may be experiencing a range of emotions as you settle into your new routine at home with your child. It might be terrifying to take on the responsibility of caring for another person 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Not to mention the fact that you’re not sleeping. For the entire family, navigating the changes that come with your new arrival can be difficult.
But, before you know it, you’ll have settled into a pattern that makes you feel like a human once more. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on things, your old pal reappears. No, I’m not referring to your first postpartum period, though that may be approaching (sorry to break it to you!). This time, I’m talking about returning to (and pumping at) work.
For some, the prospect of returning to work mode is exciting and motivating. After weeks or months of being bombarded with feeding schedules, dirty diapers, and tummy time, they are ready to get back into that pattern. For others, returning to work can feel like a death march. Returning to work, regardless of where you lie on the spectrum, comes with its own set of practical hurdles to overcome. Pumping is at the top of the list of things to learn if you’re breastfeeding your child. Continue reading to learn how to pump at work so that you may keep your job and your sanity.
Workplace Pumping Tips
1. Make a schedule that you can stick to.
Young entrepreneur wearing glasses plans and records her daily routine on an agenda. For planner concept, time management and calendar reminder events. Making plans for meetings and appointments.
Before returning to the office, make sure you have a good nursing/pumping plan in place. When you return to work, do your best to maintain that regimen. Be open and honest with your bosses/coworkers, and schedule uninterrupted time to replenish your milk supply after returning to work.
Keep in mind that you are entitled to this time. While it may be difficult for others if you are unavailable during the workplace, remember that your infant at home will appreciate your hard work. If it becomes a problem at work, inform your supervisors that this is a non-negotiable and that you will not budge. If you require assistance or believe you are unable to finish your pumping sessions properly, contact HR.
2. Be open and invest in high-quality signs.
Setting up a pumping regimen at work necessitates openness and, perhaps more crucially, excellent signage that informs others that you are otherwise occupied and unavailable. When I returned to work, one of the nicest and most useful Amazon purchases I made was a simple door sign that I hung on the inside of my office door. “Do Not Disturb” or “Welcome, please knock” were the only words on the sign. This simple, easy-to-read sign has been a lifesaver for me at work, as it clearly states that I am unavailable for face-to-face meetings. Having that sign gives me the assurance that I will be given uninterrupted time and that coworkers will be reminded to try again later.
If you’re at ease, tell your coworkers what you’re up to so they know what you’re up to and can account for it the next time they come looking for you. I work at an elementary school where the majority of the students are female. It’s reassuring to know that so many of them have “been there.” I’m always happy to reveal what I’m doing since it makes me feel more at ease and allows me to finish my pumping session.
3. If possible, get a pumping partner.
In the evening, a mother pumps her breasts with an automatic breast pump.
While this may not always be practical, having a friend in the same boat as you can be a lifesaver in this sometimes arduous task. Knowing that a coworker will visit my office at a set time each day helps me mentally pump myself up (see what I did there?). Pumping at work is a difficult task, but it’s almost like having a gym partner who holds you accountable and makes the challenges bearable. I’m glad for my pal for providing encouragement, jokes, and lactation snacks during the workday while we give milk for our babies.
4. Did someone say something about snacks?
High-protein meals, cottage cheese, almonds, and eggs in a lunch or snack box
It’s a no-brainer on this one. Pumping is a difficult task. As a result, you’ve worked up a thirst! When setting up your pumping at work routine, make sure you have plenty of snacks on hand. When you return to work as a pumping mother, you have to work twice as hard. You’ll need that energy to stay energised. Invest in a good water bottle that can be replenished throughout the day and is large enough to keep you going. I swear you’ll thank yourself later when you start pumping and suddenly feel ravenous. I know I should only inform you about healthy snacks. But don’t forget to include some treats as well. They can provide you a much-needed boost of energy and a noon pick-me-up.
5. It’s all about the logistics.
This one can be a bit overwhelming. While pumping might be psychologically and physically exhausting in and of itself, adding in everything you’ll need to make it happen can push you over the edge. Make a trial run at home and make a list of everything you’ll need for a successful pumping day away from home.
The breast pump itself, as well as pump parts, collection cups, and flanges, are obvious. You’ll also need to think about how you’ll transport your extracted milk, which means ice packs and cooler bags should be on your shopping list. Pumping wipes are one of my favourite supplies—they’re a game changer! You don’t have to stoop over the bathroom sink to clean out your pump parts before the next pumping time of the day. Instead, grab a wipe and clean your parts fast. It’s simple, safe, and efficient. Aside from that, it’s a time-saver.
Next, if you want to pump hands-free (which is a must, especially at work! ), you’ll need a great pumping bra. In case I get cold during my pumping sessions, I have a robe in my pumping bag. It’s something I’ve used on several occasions! It is not only warm, but also cute and cosy, making me feel less “medicinal” during my pumping sessions. I also bought a cute mini-fridge to keep my expressed milk in my office rather than the shared breakroom. All of this can look to be and feel overwhelming. However, after you’ve made your strategy, pumping and transferring your milk will go more smoothly.
6. Failure to plan is planning to fail.
For the new mom, an electric breast pump set is available.
This is a big one, but it’s a crucial part of the pumping process. Making the greatest preparations for your supplies the night before work might make all the difference in your day. Not only are you rushing around before work looking at the baby, making sure there is enough milk for the baby for the day, dropping off packages, and, oh yes, attempting to squeeze in a shower, but you also need to make sure your pumping supplies are clean and ready to go for the day. To tackle this as effectively as possible, I do my best to prepare and organise my supplies the night before.
Put your collecting cups, flanges, and enough tops in your cooler bag to hold all of your expressed milk. Organise your pumping bag, which should include your pump, a clean pumping bra, a robe, and wipes. Leave everything by the door and add last-minute items the next morning as needed. My worst pumping days at work are when I fall asleep on the couch too early and forget to pack my supplies. I always end up scrambling the next morning in an attempt to make it to work on time. Spending a few extra minutes at night can make a significant difference in your morning routine and set the tone for the day ahead.
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