Did you know one of the major reasons mothers wean is returning to work? Whaaaat?! Yes! Here in the U.S. we have NO standardized maternity leave and mothers usually have to use short-term disability, or even vacation or sick days to stay at home with baby, and maternity leave is often for only a few weeks to a few months.
Mothers end up weaning “early” (before they want to) because they cannot pump at work, or even get clogs or Mastitis from the inability to pump at work. This can obviously be hard on momma physically and mentally.
Let’s face it…. Pumping at work can suck. It can. I’m not gonna lie. We don’t all have beautiful pumping rooms with considerate employers.
But pumping at work is the BEST way to protect your milk supply and allow baby to receive breastmilk for a longer period of time.
Prepare while you’re still pregnant- research your right to pump and have a conversation with your employer about your right to pump. Remember, it’s a RIGHT not an accommodation. Come up with a plan for your pumping breaks and where you’ll pump. Legally, they need to provide a private place to pump that isn’t a bathroom. In the U.S. they need to legally provide you enough breaks to pump, but they don’t have to pay you for those breaks. Research and talk to other mothers about how they pump most efficiently at work. Have confidence in your ability to provide for your baby by bringing home the bacon AND the milk! Haha!
Check out my top tips for pumping at work and handling all the logistics below:
- DO YOUR RESEARCH- “Work Pump Repeat” is my favorite book on the topic. There’s also a helpful e-book/workbook linked in my E-Books tab!
- KNOW YOUR RIGHTS- Research your legal right to pump at work.
- TALK TO YOUR EMPLOYER- Confidently state your plan to return to work as a breastfeeding mother. Go to HR if they are not compliant.
- EFFICIENT PUMP BREAKS- Use the fridge method between sessions and wash everything at home.
- 3 SHORT BREAKS- The best way to protect your supply is to pump 3 times at work.
- PRIORITIZE PUMPING- Protecting your supply is priority. Set alarms or schedule “meetings” into your calendar to reserve that time.
- WATCH BABY- Watch a video or look at a pic of baby to encourage letdown and help you feel connected.
- EXTRA SUPPLIES- Keep an extra set of pumping supplies at work in case you forget yours. If possible, keep an extra pump or manual pump at work!
- EXTRA CLOTHES- Keep a change of clothes at work in case milk gets on them!
- DON’T FORGET YOUR MILK- Set a reminder to take your milk home!
If you are used to nursing on demand at home, you’re in for a big shift when returning to work. Ideally, you’ll need to pump as often as baby would have nursed- generally 3 times within your average work day. The goal is to make as much milk at work Monday that you’ll need to leave with your baby’s caregiver on Tuesday, and so on. You don’t always NEED a huge freezer stash. Some mommas find the need to pump extra times (say before and after work) to make up the milk they’ll need to leave with baby. Babies typically need 1-1.5 ounces per hour they are away from mom. In an average work day, a breastmilk-fed baby might take 3 to 4 4-ounce bottles. (Make sure the caregiver knows about paced bottle feeding!)
Don’t HAVE a specified place to pump at work? Explore your legal rights HERE and commutate these with your employer!
Full Amazon idea list for
Back-to-Work available HERE
Many mothers find the transition back to work pretty rough.
Preparing yourself for the end of maternity leave involves logistics (when and where will I pump?) as well as mental and emotional preparation!
My tips for you:
👶 Put a photo of your baby with your pumping stuff or in the pumping room.
📝 Write a reminder message like “Do it for her!” Or “I may not love to pump but I pump because I love.”
💜 Think of it this way- you’re actually doing everything you can for baby right now- contributing to the family financially AND providing milk while at work!
🍼 Leave yourself notes of encouragement in your pumping bag for the next day!
💆♀️ Think of your commute and breaks at work as self care time. Do something you couldn’t do with baby or just rest in silence if you need it!
✏️ Journal about your feelings or talk to a therapist.
⏰ Design an evening routine to bond with baby after work.
📱 Unplug while at home to really be present with baby and your family
You know me, I like to look on the bright side. So here’s my thought process: Personally, I felt so much more balance after returning to work. My husband and I were both equally contributing to the family… We got to pursue our professional interests and share parenting responsibilities. My little pumplings got attention and mental stimulation at daycare… It was a win win win! I felt like I was able to come home and really spend quality time with them after work and on the weekends without feeling burnt out. My husband agrees! It’s not for everybody… but I enjoy being a working mom. I choose to see the benefits in it for everybody involved!
Encouragement for the pumping mommas at work! (Or wherever, really!)
I created a set of motivational cards available on Etsy using the link HERE– Includes PDFs for 27 themed breast pumping support cards! Check ’em out!
*I suggest printing them in 5” squares if you fit 2 to a page, or 4” squares if you want to fit 4 to a page!