Tips for Breast Pumping at Work – How to Successfully Breastfeed After Returning to Work

tips-for-pumping-at workSo you’ve made the decision to be a working and pumping mom? Good for you. Pumping while working isn’t always easy. There can be a lot of things to overcome like figuring out a schedule, making sure you have a private place to pump, noisy co-workers, low supply issues, etc, etc, etc.

So how do you successfully breastfeed after returning to work? Well, here are my top tips for breast pumping at work! 

1 – Make Sure you Have a Really, Really Good Pump

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Spectra S1 Breast Pump

Sorry, but a manual pump or even a $100 double electric pump won’t cut it for pumping as often as you will need to while working. A quality pump is a must if you don’t want to have any supply issues.

Make sure it is a double electric pump. Those allow you to pump both breasts at the same time. You likely will need to use your breaks and lunch time to pump so there won’t be enough time to do one breast at a time.

In need of a pump?

Click here to read about two of my favorites – Medela Freestyle and the Spectra S1 Hospital Grade Pump.

best-hands-free-pumping-bra

PumpEase Hands Free Pumping Support Bra

2 – Get a Hands-Free Pumping Bra

If you haven’t tried using a hands-free pumping bra, then let me introduce you to one of the best pumping accessories ever! It is exactly what it sounds like; a bra that allows you to pump while keeping your hands free.

They make nursing bras with little slits in to make room for the pump attachment parts and also bustier type bras that are made to be worn only when pumping. 

This will allow you to have your hands free to do other things like type on your computer, read, or my favorite, sleep! Pumping while at work doesn’t need to feel like a chore. So free your hands up to do something else!

Check out some of my favorite Hands-Free Nursing Bras here!

3 – Get Organized

One thing you need to do right away is set a pumping schedule for yourself and stick to it! I recommend blocking that time out on your calendar at work especially if your office uses programs like Outlook to schedule meetings and such.

If you have the time blocked out, not only will co-workers not bother to try and schedule something with you during those times, but you will be more likely to take a break and pump. Seeing a reminder pop-up and having it set on your calendar will help you stay on track for the day and make sure you are not tempted to miss pumping sessions.

Need an example of what your work day should look like? Click here to view a Sample Pumping Schedule.

4 – Know Your Rights as a Breastfeeding Employee

The Affordable Care Act required some important amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act. All breastfeeding employees should know their rights. Simply put, you are entitled under the law:

breastfeeding-mother-lawTake reasonable breaks to express breast milk for up to a year after your baby is born.

-Not be limited on the breaks you need to express breast milk (your employer can’t say you can only have 1 break for example) – The law allows the mother to take breaks “as needed”.

-Be provided with a place other than the bathroom (thank you very much!) that is private and free from intrusion to pump.

-Does not matter how small the business is as long as they are covered by the FLSA  the employer must follow this law.

Click here to read more about your rights as a breastfeeding employee!

It is important to open the lines of communication with your employer. It can be uncomfortable but it will help you in the ling run! You can read more about having the conversation about pumping at work with your employer here.

5 – Stop Washing your Pump Parts

Okay, of course, I don’t mean stop washing your pump parts indefinitely but do stop washing them at work. This will save you a TON of time! So ditch the soap and water and try these time-saving tips:

medela-pump-parts

Medela Micro-Steam Bags

-Get some quick clean pump wipes – These wipes are made to be used without soap or water. You simply wipe your parts down after you are done pump, dry them off and you are set! Easy, peasy! 

-Get Micro-Steam bags – These are super easy to use! All you need is a microwave and some water. The steam bags are reusable up to 5 times. Most offices have a microwave so all you need is 3 minutes and your pump parts are squeaky clean!

Check out our Medela page to find out where you can buy the Quick Clean Pump Wipe and Micro Steam Bags!

-Store your pump parts in a zip lock bag and refrigerate – This is great if you have access to a refrigerator. After you are done pumping just stick your pump parts into a gallon zip lock bag and pop in the fridge. Because they are kept cold, the milk on them from previous pump sessions stays fresh so no need to wash them or sanitize them. Always wash them at the end of the day at home, though. This is only for the one work day. It is not meant to replace washing indefinitely! 

6 – Get Creative

Despite the Affordable Care Act saying your employer can’t make you pump in the bathroom, not all offices will be pump-friendly. You may have to get creative with where and when you pump. This will be especially true if you have a demanding job where breaks are not guaranteed (like a nurse or teacher).

So get creative! Here are some great tips if you find yourself short on time or with no place to go:

medela-pump-parts

Medela Pump Car Adapter

-Learn to Pump and Drive – Sounds crazy, right? Well, I did it for years and trust me it is a must when you don’t have a lot of time! You can get two extra pump sessions in during the day by pumping to and from work. Check out how to Pump and Drive here.

-Get a Car Adapter – If your office has no acceptable place to pump, then consider pumping in your car. This can be the best possible solution for some moms so don’t rule it out! You can find car adapters for most pumps. We have Medela car adapter for most pump models here!

-Carry Extra Pump Parts – In case you can’t wash your parts or are in a hurry, have an extra set to save time.

7 – Carry an Extra Shirt and Breast Pads

One of the less attractive parts of nursing is the issue of leaking. It is a good idea to always carry an extra shirt in your car in case the girls get a little wet. It happens so be prepared!

8 – Be Committed

Go into pumping and working with the mindset that you can and will be successful. Many women find a way to make it work and you can too. If you tell yourself that you will just see how it goes, you likely won’t achieve your goal and will give up. 

Knowing that, in the beginning, you will be getting into a routine and there might be some hiccups will help. You will figure out a schedule that works best for you and once you do it will become second nature. So hang in there and trust that it will get better and easier!

Have tips for pumping and working? Share them here by leaving a comment!




 

Also See – 

breastfeeding-mother-law

Read: Breast Pumping Laws – Know your Rights as a Breastfeeding Employee

breast-milk-storage

Read: Breast Milk Storage Guidelines – Tips and More!

pumping-and-mastitis

Read: Why does My Breast Milk Smell Sour?

 

14 comments

  1. Batya says:

    Thanks for this post it has really great tips! They are so practical and really help a pumping mom be successful. I’ve never heard of a hands free pumping bra, they sound really cool and are definitely helpful to help achieve two things at once, like many moms like to do! I am personally not a pumping (or nursing) mom but I will share your post with friends who are.

    • Heather Grace says:

      Hands free pumping bras are a life saver for pumping moms! Really anything hands free is for a mom haha. I appreciate you stopping by and sharing this with other moms! Take care!

  2. Bri says:

    I pumped at work for almost a year after my son was born and it was super non-fun but super necessary! You’ve created an excellent assortment of tips and product recommendations here. I never did pump whilst driving, but now that I see your recommended products, I would re-think this option! And definitely, bring yourself an extra shirt/dress/work ensemble as a back-up!!! The other thing that happened to me on occasion when I was running out of the house and trying to bring everything including my brain to work…I forgot my pump plugin cord! It would be plugged in from the night before & sometimes it didn’t make it in the bag. I would recommend considering the purchase of a separate adaptor/plugin cord, this really was a huge burden so do what you can to take the extra precaution measure! Best of luck out there Mama’s! You are not alone!!!

    • Heather Grace says:

      I have forgotten the power cord before too! I love the portable pumps with the built in battery or battery pack for that reason. The power cord become less necessary! Before I had a pump with a built in battery, I had forgotten my power cord and since my commute to work was too long to go back home for it, I had to run to target and buy a cheap manual pump just to get through the day. It was miserable! Never again!

  3. Erin says:

    What essential information for the mom that needs to coordinate breastfeeding with her work schedule. It is amazing the amount of planning and dedication that it takes to continue breast feeding in the workplace. I am glad that you included the legal protections designed for nursing moms. My employer provides rooms that are entitled “lactation stations” and moms at work are so thankful that our job understands the responsibility to provide the time and place to continue to nourish their babies the way that nature intended. Great post!

    • Heather Grace says:

      I was fortunate enough to have a lactation room provided to me as well. I wish all companies would do that. It’s not easy being a working mom especially while breastfeeding!

  4. Julie says:

    Hi Heather! This post has provided me with practical and useful advice especially because I’m a first time mom and I feel strongly about breastfeeding for the next few years to come. Thankfully, I work in a company that is made up of mostly women so they have made breastfeeding rights pretty clear to us. I especially agree with what you said about setting a schedule – when I went back to work I didn’t have one but eventually I managed to set time aside. Thank you for sharing.

    • Heather Grace says:

      You are lucky to work in a company that seems to embrace nursing mothers! And I agree, the schedule is so important. I failed to do that in the beginning too and it was a big mistake! Setting time aside was the only way to ensure I got my pump sessions in!

  5. Sam says:

    Good article for business women who wish to breastfeed. Nice Heather! Having a baby is no easy job, and caring for one right is harder. Your advice is sound, and I recommend mothers to check you out .It’s weird that on one hand, society celebrates good mothers, while on the other hand , resents the time it takes for a woman to be one. I think you have a lot to offer!

    • Heather Grace says:

      Thank you and you bring up a great point! As mothers, we really are in a catch 22. People expect us to raise our kids a certain way but look at us cross-eyed when we need the support and time to do it. It’s really not fair!

  6. Shannon says:

    These are some great tips! Those nursing bras are the best invention ever! I had an office where I could close my door and I would work with it on. Only word of caution is I had times I did not pay attention and the milk overflowed and wet my pants. Sounds crazy and you would think you would feel it but it is the same temperature as you are…. Pumping takes work and dedication but it is so worth it!

    • Heather Grace says:

      I have done the same thing!! Big disaster! I ended up rushing out to Target to buy new clothes before anyone could notice lol. Extra clothes in the car were a staple after that! Thank you for sharing! It is a great reminder.

  7. Margaret says:

    This is a great article for working mothers who want their baby to continue having breast milk. It must be difficult for these working mums to find the privacy to use a breast pump but you seem to have this covered with the hands free pumping bra. How many employers provide somewhere for their employees who are pumping? I don’t think we have any workplace legislation to cover this in Australia but it would be great if they did.

    • Heather Grace says:

      I was fortunate enough to work for a company that had a Nursing Mother’s room. It was amazing! I also know plenty of mothers who have to pump in breakrooms (with co-workers walking in and out), closets, empty offices, etc. The law, unfortunately, doesn’t state that a room be specifically dedicated to pumping but only that they offer a private place. It’s vague on what that is… I personally would have pumped in my car if I didn’t have somewhere to pump! Great solution!

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