There are so many resources on breastfeeding that even if you do not have a lactation consultant, you can find almost anything you are looking for. From breastfeeding positions, pumping schedules, latching methods, you name it the information is there. The one resource I wish that I had was how breastfeeding works for the working mother. No one tells you how hard breastfeeding is, but no one tells you how harder breastfeeding and working can be.
Although jobs are supposed to be very accommodating, often they are very unprepared to deal with a woman who has to pump every so often. I’m a teacher and trust me, even though my job is all about the kiddos, they were not even prepared to accommodate me the way that I needed to be accommodated. Here are some tips and tricks that I learned (through trial and error) along the way.
1. Invest in a good breast pump
Having a dependable breast pump is a must for the working mom. There are many out there on the market with the most popular being the Madela In Style Breast Pump and the Spectra S1 or S2 model pump. Having used both, I personally recommend the Spectra S1 o S2 model because it is much lighter and doesn’t make as much noise as the Madela model. Breast pumps can be very pricey, but most insurance agencies will cover the cost of one completely. Simply contact your insurance and ask them if they offer breast pumps under insurance. Most of the time you will just need to provide proof of pregnancy and be a certain time into your pregnancy. Contact your insurance agency early to see what their guidelines are.
2. Get a pumping bra now!
You are going to need a pumping bra asap! Often times, I would pump during my planning break and lunch break, and for both, I needed to be hands free. Invest in a good pumping bra now. This way you can handle your business while handling your business.
3. Be prepared for someone to walk in on you.
During both times with my oldest and youngest, I had someone walk in on me unexpectedly. No matter how cute you make the sign, people just don’t read.
One of the things I used was my breastfeeding cover. I would hook everything up, and then use my cover to put over me, this way if anyone walked in I was completely covered.
It worked so well, that often people wouldn’t even notice I was pumping and have full on conversations with me. Some would realize a few seconds later and feel really embarrassed, but I was ok, because I was completely covered up.
4. Don’t forget to bring your storage materials.
Leave a box of your storage bags at work. Getting ready in the morning can be very hectic so it is easy to forget something.
One thing you don’t want to do is forget your storage bags, but if you do grab a water bottle and improvise).
I really enjoy the Lansinoh Breastmilk storage bags, because they freeze flat which creates a ton of storage room in your freezer.
Also, having a manual hand pump at work can be very handy. It’s not as convenient, but if you forget to grab your pump in the morning at least you have another option. Trust me you don’t want to have to “milk” yourself at work.
5. Use every opportunity to pump
Virtual meetings, lunch breaks, and long phone calls are all opportunities to pump. The more you pump the better it is for your milk supply. Remember that the baby is no longer with you, so you are depending on that pump to keep your milk supply up. You do not want your milk supply to go down because you are not pumping. Speak with your job. See if you can join meetings via zoom or MS Teams instead of joining in the conference room. Get to work early and pump before you start your shift. If possible, pump before you go home for the day. Pump, pump, and pump some more.
6. If possible get a mini fridge
This saved me so much time from running back and forth to the breakroom.
Having a mini-fridge available to you is clutch when pumping at work. It saves time, and it is your own personal space. Sometimes work fridges can get a little messy and crowded.
If you have limited space in your work area using a mini-fridge that is meant to hold soda cans will get the job done, they are smaller, but can hold several bags of milk.
Breastfeeding is full ups and downs, but it is possible. I breastfeed both of my children until they turned one, both of which I returned to work. The main thing to remember is stick with it. I will be hard, and honestly inconvenient, but the reward is worth it. However, if you decide that breastfeeding is just not feasible for you, talk with your pediatrician about formula alternatives. Whatever decision you make its all good!
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~Peace & Love
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