Friday, May 20, 2011

Breastfeeding and Pumping while at work? It can be done. Read my tips for success!

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, my daughter, I was employed full-time outside of the home.  My job was the usual 9-5pm variety.  I was on my feet all day and often even missed lunches and other breaks due to the hustle and bustle, multi-tasking that ensued daily.

Having been a child of the 70's, my mom had been a La Leche League leader and I myself was nursed until about age 4.  Nursing was a non-issue, just the way you feed your baby after it's born, and nothing I ever worried about or considered a choice, it just was what I was going to do.

After my daughter was born I made arrangements to return to work part-time, three full days a week, after she reached 6 weeks old.

My Medela Breast Pump became my best friend, co-workers used to see me with it and make jokes about me going to pump, AGAIN!

I pumped 3 days a week, while at work, for a year until I decided to become a stay-at-home-mom.  Here are some things you should consider when taking on pumping while on the job.
  • Buy an electric, dual breast-pump!  It's important to remember that you need to pump as often as you can to simulate natural nursing patterns and with the hustle and bustle of being on the job, you may not have time to manually express milk.  Also, depending on the stresses involved your milk might not let down right away.  My electric, dual breast-pump was a lifesaver and allowed me to take more frequent trips to express milk.
  • Make sure you have a peaceful place to pump.  The only place I had to pump was the break room and it always seemed like my pumping sessions were inconveniencing someone.  As soon as I began to stress or worry about inconveniencing someone then my milk would take forever to let down.  Having a stress-free zone is important.
  • Use a nursing cover when pumping.  I worked in an all female workplace, so I quickly learned that the only way I could nurse without worrying about other co-workers needs was to cover up and pump while still allowing them access to the break room.  Actually, chatting with them while pumping often helped me take my mind off things and make for a faster pumping session.
  • Have some photos of your baby in your breastpump bag.  Often looking at photos helped get me i the right frame of mind and helped me relax,etc.
  • Consider a special bra like Easy Expression, to allow you to work or eat while pumping.  My job involved answering phones and booking appointments so I was often able to work while pumping in the break room.
  • Use Milkies Milk Savers!  I can't tell you how many times, while at work, I got so busy that I literally could not get away to pump.  Next thing I knew I was getting that tingly let-down feeling and just knew all that precious milk was going to waste, getting absorbed by my nursing pads and often my blouse.  Milkies are great for that and will save you from wasting any of that precious breastmilk.
  • Have a backup manual pump.  There were a few occasions that my pump would not work or malfunctioned for whatever reason, maybe the outlet didn't work, or I realized I left the power cord at home.  Make sure to have a backup for those emergency situations, like having to pump in the car, etc.
These are just a few of my suggestions.  Pumping at work does have it's issues, depending on the job and workplace atmosphere.  There were days where I couldn't seem to pump a drop and had my husband or mother running the baby up to my work so I could nurse because I hadn't had enough milk to leave for them.  There were also days where I was frazzled and spilled my stored milk at work, forgot to put it in the refrigerator and definitely days where my co-workers were none too thrilled with my constant need to pump while they're eating their lunch in the break room!

Ultimately, it's your right to pump while at work, but it's also most beneficial to you if you can find a comfortable and harmonious way to go about it without causing yourself or your co-workers too much distress.  A stressful environment is counterproductive and could result in less milk production and issues with pumping.

Do you have any suggestions for pumping breastmilk while at work?  We'd love to read them.


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