Any woman who has ever breastfed a child can attest to how time consuming, self-sacrificial and exhausting it is. Especially when you are pumping. It can feel like a second job. Being a breastfeeding mom is hard and being a working breastfeeding mom can be even harder. It is incredibly stressful worrying about going back to work, figuring out how to build your “back-to-work” stash, trying to put together a pump schedule and making it home in time for your baby’s next feeding.
Lindsey Bessing, a nurse educator at UF Health Jacksonville, is our guide for this two-week/two part blog series. She is sharing helpful tips for working moms who want to continue breastfeeding. Being a mom of three, Lindsey has experience with the ups and downs of pumping at home and at work.
1. Know the law
Pumping at work is more common today than ever before, so if you are a new mom, you should feel comfortable knowing that most work places understand and have made it easier to pump at work since the new law has been passed. This law is called Break Time for Nursing Mothers, requiring break time and a safe, private place for mothers to pump.
The best part of this law is that this place cannot be a bathroom!
2. Have an extra set of everything at work
There is nothing worse than the sinking feeling of getting to work and realizing that your breast shields are sitting on your drying rack at home instead of in your pump bag. Having a backup of everything you need to pump at your office gives you peace of mind knowing you won’t have to run home when you realize something’s missing.
Try keeping an extra set of the following at work (or in your car, if you drive to work):
- Pump parts (connector, valve, etc.)
- Bottles and bags to pump into (with caps to store the milk)
- An extra charger or battery pack (depending on your pump)
- Anything else you use regularly to pump (freezer bags, pads, etc.)
3. Clean your pump parts between uses or have extra
The CDC recently issued new guidelines for washing pump parts. Follow them by having as many sets of pump parts at work as you have pumping sessions at work. This allows you to wash them all in one batch, which will be much easier than washing after every session. Lindsey personally suggests Medela cleaning wipes.
4. Have a strategy for sneaking in pumping sessions
If your work schedule makes pumping inconvenient, it can be really difficult to stick to a schedule. Even if you normally are able to pump at work without issues, certain situations (e.g., interviews, travel for meetings) may come up and make it difficult to schedule in pump sessions.
One way to handle this is to come up with a strategy to “sneak” in a quick pumping session, especially if you know when your breaks are throughout the workday. If you keep a small manual pump in your purse, you can run to the restroom or to your car for five to ten minutes for a pump session.
5. Try not to stress out about pumping enough
This is easier said than done, but do the best you can. If you aren’t pumping enough to give to your childcare provider while you’re at work, it’s OK to supplement with natural methods like brewer’s yeast, oatmeal and lots of water. Pumping or feeding more can also increase supply naturally, in most cases. If you think your baby is taking more than usual while he or she is breastfeeding, talk with your childcare provider about paced feeding.
Stay tuned for next week’s tips!
Looking for more resources on breastfeeding? Head to our website for more tips from experts. For specific questions, connect with your health care provider or lactation consultant at UF Health Jacksonville.
Lindsey also shares plenty of helpful information on her blog, “Life of the Manic Mama.”