How to Pump At Work (Tips and Tricks for New Moms)
Pumping at work is hard. I can’t say it enough. It is so worth it (as long as you and baby are happy), but man, it’s hard.
Unfortunately, for many of us moms, pumping gets especially complicated once you’re headed back to work.
You’re suddenly trying to manage a busy work schedule, a pumping schedule, and thinking about your baby, all without being stressed. Yikes.
Let me ease some of that stress by giving you four effective tips for pumping at work. You’ll be feeling better in no time and your breast milk output will thank you!
For everything you need to know about pumping – don’t miss my favorite pumping guide – Pumping 101.
4 Tips to Pumping At Work
1. Workplace Pumping Policy
First, it’s important to find out your workplace pumping policy. I’m crossing my fingers that your workplace already has one of these policies in place – they should.
If you’re not sure, talk with a member of HR and see if they can point you in the right direction. Don’t feel like you’re bugging them!
There’s a really good chance that you’re not the first person to need to pump breast milk at work, so they should already have a plan in place for moms.
You’ll want to ask questions like:
- Is there a mother’s room/pumping room available?
- Is there a lock or sign for the door? (Look below to get your own if you need!)
- If you know your needed or desired pumping schedule – it’s a great time to discuss it.
It’s the Law!
Keep in mind that there are laws that require workplaces to allow pumping mothers reasonable time to pump throughout the day.
Check out these resources for more tips and helpful information:
- The National Conference of State Legislature’s website to find your state’s requirements
- The Department of Labor’s frequently asked questions on break time for nursing mothers and their pumping rights at work.
- This infograph, with information from the United States Breastfeeding Committee, to help show how allowing pumping benefits your employer!
Don’t be afraid to be a mom who’s pumping at work, you can be successful!
What To Do If Your Work Doesn’t Have A Mother’s Room/Nursing Room
Now, if your workplace does not have a consistent room to pump in, don’t fret, I’ve got you covered!
Through a grant, I was able to create several pumping bags for my workplace that could be used by mothers in any room, when a specific room was unavailable.
You can make your own “on the go” pumping bag and bring it with you to work. Here’s what you’ll want to include in your bag:
Pumping At Work “On The Go” Bag
- Breast Pump
- Cooler Tote – don’t let your pumped milk go to waste! Some workplaces don’t have a refridgerator to store your breast milk, and I’ll be honest, even if they do – I STILL want my milk in its own bag. Safely store your breast milk (with these tips) in a cute cooler bag. Your pump might come with one, but if not, I love this one because it’s cute and not an obnoxious/obvious breast milk bag.
- Nursing Cover – Sometimes, you just forget to lock the door, and it sucks. 🤦🏼♀️ If you want more coverage for those “just in case” moments consider investing in an extra nursing cover. Sometimes they’re just nice to have even if the room you’re pumping in gets a little cold! I highly suggest opting for nursing covers like this one – dual purpose!
- Temporary Lock – Sometimes the door lock is broken, or it just doesn’t exist in the room you’re pumping in! I would have loved to include these in our kits, but they did not meet our fire code. Make sure you look into your company policy.
- Hand sanitizer
- “Do Not Enter” Breastfeeding Sign – these are so easy to make yourself and can save you some embarrassment if someone walks in! (check out my free printable and instructions)
Now that you’re in a room and have all your equipment, it’s time for tip 2!
2. Keep Your Schedule
It’s so important that you keep your breastfeeding/pumping schedule while you’re pumping at work. What does this mean? It’s a pretty simple idea, but you need to be serious about it.
Don’t skip pumping sessions. If you end up skipping a pumping session for one reason or another, your milk supply will likely drop. Breastfeeding and pumping are based on supply and demand, if you’re not creating the demand, your body will not make the milk supply needed.
Read more on the basics of breastfeeding supply and demand.
If you have a meeting around the same time you are scheduled to pump, it’s okay to adjust your schedule by 30 minutes or so, but try not to cut out any sessions.
Most moms find it best to pump every 3 hours for 20 minutes. However, some moms may vary in this and need to pump more or less frequently.
It can be helpful to write down your schedule (I love this weekly whiteboard from Amazon) and block off time in your schedule each day to make sure you get your pumping in.
An example of my daily pump schedule while working an 8 hour shift was:
- 7am feed my baby
- 10am pump
- 1pm pump
- 4pm pump
- 7pm feed my baby
3. Drink Lots of Water and Get Your Calories!
Your body needs BOTH water and food to make your milk. Whether you’re pumping at work or at home, don’t forget about the importance of your diet!
Yes, pumping breast milk/breastfeeding is a great calorie burner, but it also requires calories. Try to have some healthy breastfeeding snacks on hand to keep you full throughout the day – these can be a lifesaver to throw in your desk or keep in your purse.
What about all that water I’m already drinking? Well, drinking tons of water but not eating enough due to dieting can still cause your milk supply to dip. Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water daily.
If you’re looking for more great recipes and ways to keep your calorie intake under control the Postpartum Cure is an amazing program to check out. It has great, healthy meal plans made for breastfeeding moms and fitness programs to keep you in shape and feeling great.
TIP: If you’re like me, you might love that big water mug you got from the hospital. If your hospital didn’t supply you with one (uhhh, why not? They’re amazing!) – order one like this one. I love that it’s huge, keeps my water cold, and is pink! I recommend using it daily and refilling it throughout the day.
4. Try to Relax.
Pumping at work can cause many moms to feel stressed. If your day has been hectic and you’re an hour late to your pumping session, try your best to take some time and relax.
Try not to think about work.
Sit down with your pump and breathe.
You’re working hard to supply great nourishment to your little one, you’re doing great!
Relaxation can cause your letdown to occur sooner and can also increase your milk supply. These are some great tips and ways to relax while pumping at work:
- Listen to music
- Look at pictures of your baby (a great way to speed up/start your letdown)
- Deep Breathing
- Sit quietly and think.
Increasing Breast Milk at Work
For some moms, pumping milk at work can really add a lot of extra stress. It sucks, but sometimes that added stress means you won’t pump as much milk. So what can you do to increase your milk supply? Check out these posts to see what you can do to quickly increase your milk supply:
- #1 FREE Way to Increase Your Milk Supply
- How I DOUBLED My Milk Supply
- How to Increase Your Breast Milk Supply – Fast!
- Power Pumping – The Tips and Tricks You NEED To Know
As always if you become too stressed between work, your family, and pumping enough milk it’s okay to be done. You’ve done so great. The most important thing is a happy fed baby and mom, whether that’s through formula or breast milk.
Storing Breast Milk at Work
Breast milk storage can be another worry for working moms. Thankfully, your milk will stay good in an insulated cooler all day long, just try to get it into the fridge or freezer as soon as you can.
The Ultimate Breast Milk Storage Guidelines has some great information and easy rules to follow for storing your breast milk safely.
How to Pump at Work
All these tips should help guide you to successfully pump at work. If you’re still struggling contact your lactation consultant or physician to see if they have suggestions.
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