I'm pleased to share a guest post on this topic written by Jennifer, working mother of a 3 year old and 6 month old. I'd been wanting to write some practical tips on pumping at work, but her story really sums it up nicely. Not everyone has the flexibility or facilities she has for pumping, but I think that many of you will find her suggestions useful. Enjoy!
I’m a full time working mom with an active 3 year old and a 6 month old whom I’m currently breastfeeding. I just started adding solid foods to her diet after exclusively breastfeeding for her first 6 months. I hear all the time from other working moms that it is so difficult to work full time and breastfeed - that they just cannot figure it out and so have had to supplement with formula or stop breastfeeding altogether. I want everyone to know that it is possible and you can make it work. Breastfeeding is not just for stay at home moms or those who work part time.
Here are a few suggestions for successfully breastfeeding while working full time:
1. If possible, find child care near where you work. I go almost every day on my lunch time to nurse my daughter, so I only have to pump once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I, like a lot of women I know, don’t pump as much as our babies would normally take from the breast so it decreases the extra I need to pump later. For the first couple of months, she was a slow nurser, but after a few months she became much faster, so I can nurse her and get back to work in a ½ hr.
2. Invest in a good, double electric pump—saves a lot of time and is effective in keeping supply up.
3. If you can’t pump as much as you need to put in bottles, pump right before you go to bed. I pump then, which is about 2 hours after my daughter goes to bed. I get enough more milk to keep up with her needs, and it helps keep up my supply. I breastfeed on the weekends, but still pump right before bed so I have even more saved for during the week.
4. Learn to pump hands free so, if you can, you can keep working—talking on the phone, doing e-mail, etc. (People have no idea that a LOT of the time when I’m returning their calls that I’m pumping). I simply looped rubber bands through the eyeloops on my nursing bras. Then I loop those over the pumping pieces to hold them in place. I just leave the rubber bands on my bras. The only problem is that now that my daughter is older, when I’m nursing, she reaches up and snaps me with them now and then!
5. This is the part people will think is crazy (and maybe not necessary), but I set my alarm for 3am every night and go get my daughter from her crib and feed her in my bed. It only takes about 10 minutes, and both she and I doze. I do this to help keep up supply so I can pump as much as I can. I honestly do not lose much sleep since I never turn on lights and just do it in bed.
6. About 3 weeks before I went back to work, I pumped twice a day about one hour after any feeding so I could build up a freezer supply of milk. That way I had bottles of milk to send on my babies first day in childcare and a bit of a cushion if I had a bad pumping day. Gives me peace of mind to have a bit of a freezer supply but you don’t want to have to dip into it too much because anything you take from it, you aren’t producing at the time and could hurt your supply. This is also good to have a lot of practice with your pump so you are very comfortable with it before you are using it at work.
7. Order back up parts for your pump so if you lose something or a piece breaks, you have a spare.
8. Learn to pump or breastfeed anywhere. When I first started I just could not believe I could possibly nurse in public or even in my car. It is a matter of building confidence, so just do it and practice, practice, practice. Planning by wearing nursing tops (especially cute ones!). Having your pump all put together and ready helps. And, it took me a while to realize, people really were not watching me much; they are too busy with their own lives. Realizing this really helped me with my confidence.
9. Realize that almost any schedule can be worked around; just plan and figure it out. I never realized it before, but I rarely do anything at my job for more than 2-3 hours without a break. so I can run and pump usually without a problem, even on a busy day of meetings.
10. Start back to work in the middle of the week so it is less overwhelming. Promise yourself you will keep up with breastfeeding for at least a week once you go back to work. That gives you enough time to figure out how to do it with your schedule and it just becomes part of what you do.
11. Enlist the aid of other women in your workplace. The ladies I work with know that when I close my door, I’m pumping. They will tell people who are looking for me I’m on a phone call—which is not a lie. Often I will return calls while I’m pumping.
12. I could not find many examples of schedules of how working mom’s structure their day with pumping online so I will share mine. Obviously, this would not work for everyone.
a. 6:30a—get up and shower
b. 7am—nurse baby, eat breakfast, feed older daughter
c. 7:30a—work out to aerobics show. During commercials get breast pump parts and everyone’s lunches together
d. 8am—leave for work
e. 8:30a—drop off kids and go to work
f. 9:30a—pump for 20 minutes
g. Noon—go to my daughter’s childcare close to my office and nurse her (if I’m traveling that day, pump)
h. 3pm –pump
i. 5pmish—pick up kids
j. 5:30ish—arrive home and nurse daughter
k. 8:30pm—nurse daughter and put her to bed
l. 9:30pm—wash pump parts for the next day
13. Believe you can do it. At first I felt like my day revolved around feeding my daughter, but now it just seems like part of my normal work day. It only gets easier. It is best for your baby and you can continue to burn an extra 500 calories per day!
Check out these other carnival posts:
- My World Edenwild: Nursing Mothers need Workplace Support
- Breastfeeding Moms Unite: Breastfeeding at My Family Day Care
- The Milk Mamas: A Job Where Everyone Breastfeeds
- Momnesia, the Book: Sorry, Facilities Guy
- Marshins: Taking your Boobs to Work
- Strocel: Working and Breastfeeding a Toddler
- The Marketing Mama: Working and Pumping
- Breastfeeding 1-2-3: Tips for Breastfeeding and Working
- Stork Stories: My Breastpump and I Didn't Get Along
- BabyREADY: What about Breastfeeding When I Go Back to Work
- Vanderbilt Wife: I Think this Officially Makes me a Mommy Blogger
- Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: Do You Really Need a Pump?
- Blacktating: The Five Biggest Mistakes Working and Pumping Moms Make
- Mum Unplugged: This is a Breastfeeding Office
- Best for Babes: Beating the Employment Booby Trap