Breastpumping at Work: You Got This!

woman breast pumping while at desk, working on computer

ou are doing it, momming like a boss. You are breastfeeding like a boss. You've come miles and miles through fields of pregnancy and the exhaustion of newbornness. And now you are on the cusp of walking back into the work world (like a boss). And you've decided you want to pump so you can keep giving that sweet baby all the wondrous magic of breast milk. But. (full stop.). Co-workers staring. Hauling a breast pump. Washing out a pump in an office bathroom. Engorgement. Leaky breasts. Seriously, is this even something actual moms do??

Yes. Plenty of real moms do breast pump during their work day and do it well. With a little bit of organization and a bit of trial and error, you can be one of those moms, pumping like a boss!

woman holding bag of pumped breastmilk

Here are some things to keep in mind while you consider and then successfully navigate the work world of pumping (you got this!):

1. Invest in a Pump

breast pump and bottles

If you have one you already love, great. But if you don't, take some time to research what your insurance will cover and then what type you want. There are a multitude of options, so don't get overwhelmed. Ask around, see what friends recommend, or better yet, check in with other mommy co-workers.

2. Buy a Portable Cooler

You'll want to take perfect care of all that precious gold you're working hard to collect for your small bean. (And you won't want to fill up the office refrigerator with breast milk. #awkwardconversations)

3. Plan Your Pumping Schedule and Your Breaks

Before you set foot in the office, decide how often you need to pump during the day, according to your baby's regular schedule at home. Then you'll be ready to discuss with your boss what you'll be allowed for breaks.

4. Ask Your Employer for a Room

This may feel like an awkward conversation to instigate, but you don't want to be hovering in the bathroom, either. You are entitled to a quiet, private place, so you'll want to arrange this before you head back to the office. Now is also a good time to ask about how much time you'll be allowed for pumping, how many breaks per day, and whether or not they will be paid breaks.

5. Get Organized

To help your pumpings go as smooth as possible during your work day, get your pumping bag ready the night before: clean, sterilized pump, cooler bag, breast milk bags or bottles, ice packs, a spare shirt (leaks happen!), breast pads, a snack, and something to read. The less scrambling you have to do in the morning as you're rushing out the door, the more confident you'll feel.

6. Stock up at Home

Before you head back to the office for good, add an extra pumping here and there until you have a reserve you feel good about, as much as a month's worth. A morning pumping, 30 minutes or so after a your baby's morning feeding, should yield the most ounces, so definitely make use of those. Decide how many ounces you want to have socked in the freezer, and then start stocking up.

7. Pump the Same Time You Usually Feed

Your body will be able to stay on track with your baby if you stick to the same basic feeding schedule to pump. Try to time your pumpings at or around the same time as you would normally feed your baby.

8. Pump the Same Number of Feedings

To keep up your supply, make sure not to skip a pumping, if you can help it. If you continue to pump the same number of times as you would feed, you won't risk your milk drying up.

9. Relax

When you get down to pumping at the office, RELAX. It may not be easy, with the buzz of productivity just beyond the walls, but relaxing is so important. A few tips to encourage milk flow: apply warmth in the form of a warm compress, smell baby clothes you've brought from home, or gaze at a picture of your sweet bean as you begin pumping.

10. Prime Yourself

Breast massage, from the outer edges of your breasts toward the nipple will encourage milk flow. Hand expressing the last dregs of milk will also help, clearing your milk ducts to prevent clogging.

11. Take Care of Yourself

You know this one, but it's the hardest, isn't it? But taking the best care of your baby means taking great care of yourself, as well. Going back to work and pumping to feed your little one can be stressful, so make sure you're feeding your body good food, drinking plenty of water, staying connected to friends, and getting out to exercise every so often.

12. Keep Baby Close When You're at Home

After work, spend as much time as you can cuddling and snuggling. The dishes will wait. You can still get plenty of skin-to-skin contact during after work hours, too. These are precious, fleeting days and you want to absorb as much of them as you possibly can.

It may feel strange, it may feel overwhelming, but breast pumping at work is so worth the extra effort and inconvenience when you get to continue giving your precious baby the best nourishment possible. Sweet mama, you got this!