5 Ways to Make Pumping at Work Easier

Heading back to work as a new mom isn’t easy. Heading back to work as a breastfeeding mom can be even more challenging. Exactly five years ago, I was days away from returning to work as a new mom. I had a pump, I knew how to use it, but I had concerns. Would I have enough time? Would I produce enough milk? Where would I store it all?

Luckily, another nursing mom had paved the way for me at work. From there, I built a “friendship” with my pump and a good supply of milk for my little man.

Two kids and many ounces of “liquid gold” later, I’m happy to say that pumping at work (or school, or traveling) is worth it! I found my way through trial and error, but here’s how I came out smiling in the end.

1. Think of your pump as a friend…and treat it that way!
If you can’t be with your baby 24/7 and you want to breast feed, chances are you’ll need a pump. The pump of choice for me and many of my coworkers was the Medela Pump In Style – it came in an inconspicuous black bag with room for everything we needed. Yes, pumps can be pricey, but there are plenty of options out there. One friend preferred a very effective, but less expensive hand pump; another needed to use a hospital-grade pump, which she rented. Find what works best for you, and be sure to keep the manual close by. Months down the road when something doesn’t sound right or seem to be working, you’ll want easy access to directions. A few minor adjustments and you’ll be back in business.

2. Join the team (and help out the rookies!).
If there’s another nursing mom at work, seek her out. Chances are, she’ll be more than happy to show you the ropes. And, if you run into a problem, like when my AC adapter stopped working, there’s bound to be someone who can help you out.  Also, try to coordinate schedules if there’s only one spot to pump. There’s nothing worse than having to pump, getting all the way to “the room” and finding it occupied. Once you’ve settled in, be sure to welcome new leche mamas. Whether it’s someone you’ve worked with for years or someone like the contractor who just started at our office, if you see the black bag, say hello! You just might make it easier for her.

3. Bring pictures and a blankie (Yes, a blankie.)
Pumping is certainly not entertaining—you do it because you have to. But a little motivation never hurt anyone. A picture of your little one smiling can improve your milk flow and make you smile. There’s a fridge in the nursing room of my office covered with baby pictures. Not only was it great seeing how many nursing moms worked with me, but adding my little one’s picture to the mix served as a great reminder of who it was for. After a few spills, I decided to bring along a receiving blanket. The swaddling days were past us and the blanket served a great second purpose—not only was its “baby” smell nice, it was a very convenient cover-up for my pants.

A first smile like this made pumping a breeze.

4. Make lunch dates.
It’s not always easy, but if you can, a lunch break with your little one makes all the difference. With my previous job, I was able to run home and nurse my son on my lunch hour. With my current job, my husband and daughter would meet me and, depending on the weather, we could spend time at a local park or I could nurse her in our car. In both cases, it made the workday easier to manage and it meant I had to pump less, which is always a bonus!

5. Take this time to relax.
Between work and being a mom, you don’t have much time to just sit and breathe. Pumping may not be the most fun thing to do, but it gives you a chance to clear your mind.  Be sure to take a moment to breathe. Let go of frustrations and worries, even if it’s just for a few minutes, and focus on good things. It will be great for you and your milk supply! Sometimes I would just pump, other times I would read a book or magazine (always a great thing to share in a nursing room). As long I let go of the things that were bothering me and focused on the positive, I had success.

Working moms, what ways have you found to make pumping easier? What have you done if your work environment isn’t as welcoming to pumping moms?

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Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!
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Kristen is the proud mom of two, Will (5) and Joy (almost 2), and still can’t believe how fast five years have passed. She feels lucky to work for a company that let her pump in peace and hopes that soon every breastfeeding mom who works has the same opportunity.

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