So if you haven’t already gotten a pump then you’ll need to invest in one. There are lots of options but in my opinion, try to get the best electric pump you can afford. These pumps are the fastest, most efficient and most effective. It seems like a lot to sink into one gadget (will run you anywhere from ($200 -400) but think about it….it’s still much less than purchasing formula if you weren’t nursing or expressing milk yourself. I suggest the Medela Symphony (if you want to rent a pump from the hospital – this is what I did) or the Medela Pump in Style Advanced for best efficiency, portability and just overall ease of use.
Talk to your manager/supervisor or Human Resources to ensure that you have a place to pump. Under the Affordable Care Act which is a part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, most employers are expected to provide a spot for moms to pump privately and a bathroom is not that spot. Your pumping place should be available to you when you need it (I had to calendar my pump times) and has to be private so you are not in view. My manager and I discussed this and made sure that I had an appropriate, comfortable place to pump before I came back to work.
Don’t forget to pump. Remember above where I said I calendared in my pumps? Well, I also did that so that I would remember to pump at my scheduled times. And so I didn’t create conflicts with other meetings or commitments which would affect my pumps. I blocked those times as “personal”. Depending on your little one’s age, you may pump up to around three times a day during a typical 8 hour work-day. Adjust according to what works for you and your baby and don’t forget to mark it on your calendar. This will ensure that you keep your milk supply up and returning to work does not adversely affect your supply.
Designate a place to store your milk. I carried an insulated black Medela bag with an ice pack to work. I kept in the fridge and after pumping and filling bags with milk, I put them in my Medela bag and then in the same spot in the fridge everyday. No one seemed weirded out by my milk bag…at least they didn’t tell me if they were! I kept an ice pack in my Medela bag at all times so that I could make sure that the milk stayed cool on my commute home too. Just an extra layer of protection of my liquid gold!
Cleaning your pump parts/accessories can be weird at work. So here’s what I did. I carried three sets of pump parts – one for each session – that way I did not have to deal with cleaning parts in our work kitchen or bathroom. I just didn’t feel right cleaning everything there, instead I rinsed and wiped everything down, placed all the part in a bag and then refrigerated the parts along with my milk. This way I remembered to take everything home at the end of the day too. And at home, I would thoroughly clean everything.
Try to relax. If you’ve never really pumped until going back to work, then it may be harder for you to trigger a “let down” or release of milk. Even if this is not the case – I was pumping at home even before returning to work – it’s hard to relax at work. It was really strange for me to be pumping right next door to my co-workers. But I had to find ways to chill out…get my mind in the right place. I used to pull up pictures and videos of my son on my phone and watch them while I pumped. Or I would call a friend who I knew could make me laugh. Figure out what helps you relax in your pumping environment.
Multitask. After I got into the routine and wasn’t so tense about it…I was able to actually be more efficient with my time when pumping. I never got a hands free pumping bustier but was able to adjust the way I was sitting so that one if not both hands were free a lot of the time. This allowed me to be on conference calls, schedule doctor’s appointments, flip through magazines, check emails, and even discuss things with my Chai Mommas at the same time. Being able to multitask actually helped me relax even more, getting even better pumps in.
Are you nervous about pumping at work? Send me your questions, I’ll try to help! Or share what’s been working for you if you’re already an at work pumping pro. And if you need a 101 on pumping whether returning to work or not, then check out Chai Momma Neesha’s excellent post here for informative tips and pointers to help.