In the old days, women returning to work would either ween their babies off breastmilk or would have to deal with excruciatingly sore breasts full of a days supply of milk. The women who could pump at work were stuck with the odors and germs of pumping in the bathroom. Well luckily, ladies, those days are over. Hallelujah. Here is a run down of what you need to know about pumping at work:
1. Find out where in your workplace you can comfortably pump.
Businesses with over 50 employees are now required to provide a secure and safe location for lactating women to express milk, other than the bathroom. Link for more information. Now here’s the catch. Not everyone knows about this legal requirement. And for various reasons it could be a difficult topic to approach with your employer if you are a new employee. When I returned to work recently, I did so as a contractor. On the first day on site, I could tell that my boss was not sure where to direct me. (Yes, he offered the bathroom ha!) To figure it out, I had to get creative. For the first week, I pumped in my office. I would close the door, which does not have a lock, and prop a chair in front of it. Yes, I had the dreaded moment when a male co-worker knocked on the door, to which I gave the bathroom knock response “just a minute” (embarrassing). Over that week as I met people, I worked hard to find other new moms and the moment I found one I instantly talked about breastfeeding. She responded right away. ‘Hooray she breastfeeds’, I thought to myself! Shortly thereafter she gave me a tour of the lactation room. They did indeed have a spot for women to pump! So it seems, the best resource of where to pump is other pumping women, or women with young children. They are in the know for things like this.
2. Get a good pump, extra pump parts and a hands free pumping bra.
In a prior post, I wrote about how to affordably obtain a good pump through your employer provided health insurance program. I definitely recommend the pump I got, especially for pumping outside of your home. It is small and it keeps time. Keeping time ensures that you pump for the amount of time that you determine is sufficient. For the extra pump parts, get enough spare parts to ensure you don’t need to do intraday washing. You don’t really have time at work to spend X amount on pumping and then additional precious minutes washing to prep for the next pump. I pump 3 times per day outside of home, so I had to buy 2 extra sets of “heads” and 4 extra bottles. I also carry in my breast pumping gear bag gallon sized ziploc bags. It is a convenient way to keep the used parts from getting my bag dirty on the interior after each pumping session. You could also get washable waterproof bags that could suit the same purpose. There are many cute options on Etsy, in addition to the option of making your own. Last, get a handsfree pumping bra. I use simple wishes. The time spent pumping each day at work is really nice to get caught up on your smartphone – texting, facebook, (candy crush), whatever. You don’t want to waste it away holding the pump up to your ta-tas.
I use the mini cooler that came with my pump. It is small, it holds 4 small bottles. It came with 1 freezer pack. Here’s how I modified this slightly. After I pump, I pour the milk into actual breastmilk freezer storage bags to conserve space in the freezer. In addition, I bought 3 extra freezer packs. This way I am totally positive that all of the milk will be kept perfectly cold all day. The last thing you want to do is go to all of the trouble of pumping and have your plan foiled by unsafe (warmed) milk. Following this process, I have not needed to store my milk next to Larry’s ranch dressing or Ted’s month old lunch leftovers. Amen.
As far as production, once you decide how much milk you want to pump, you will know how often you want to pump. Prior to my return to work, I was pumping on overdrive, filling up a deep freezer with extra milk over and above what Willow was actually consuming. However, I don’t have the time to pump with that frequency anymore. So, I am freezing way less. But, I have been able to still freeze a few bags a week and provide Willow with all of her dairy requirements without any issue. There is a website called Work and Pump that can help you figure this out more scientifically that had been recommended to me. I didn’t end up using its techniques. But, had I run into any production issues, I definitely would have consulted it in more detail. Here is a link.