Pumping In The Work Place
Maternity Leave is coming to an end and now you have to return to work. Don’t forget to pack your breastmilk cooler bag and kiss that newborn a million times before you go out the door. Breast pumping at work is probably making you a little nervous and it most def has its challenges.
First I am going to start with the tips I think you should know and then we’ll go over every FAQ you need to know about pumping at work (laws, HR, pump rooms, etc..).
This post is pretty long, so if you need to save it and come back, you should.
14 Tips for Pumping at Work
1. Talk To Human Resources
In order to make your transition back to work a smooth one, you want to set up a call or speak to HR before you go on maternity leave. This is not the time to be timid.
You want to go over the basics when you talk to your manager & human resources. The first is to make sure you have an area that will allow you to set up an electric pump and express milk.
This area should not be a restroom and should have outlets to allow you to plug in your electric breast pump. Here are a few questions you should think about asking
- Can you store your breast milk in the common work fridge?
- Will your job be safe while you are pumping because it is the law!
- How long can you pump for, if you plan to pump 2-3 times a day?
Make sure to take one of these best cooler bags for working moms to store your breastmilk if you do not have a fridge at work.
2. Take The Ultimate Back to Work Pumping Course
I know you are nervous about returning to work and having to do something you may not have done before. It is especially weird because you are leaving a lot of the time to go pump and you feel like you aren’t doing your best as an employee.
You don’t have to feel scared to pump at work and you sure as hell are not gonna feel intimidated by providing breast milk for your child.
The Ultimate Back to Work Pumping Course goes into great detail about how to stay pumping longer at work, how to properly store your breast milk, what kind of pump, how to pump, and even how to prepare yourself for success with a baby.
3. Pack A Great Pumping Bag
In order to get the best results, you may want to make sure you pack your pumping bag in good order. Some items you may want to add to your pumping bag:
- Large Water Bottle
- Snacks (lactation brownies mmm..)
- Electric Pump
- Extra Pumping Parts
- Nipple Pads (so many nipple pads)
- Breast Milk Storage Bags
- Small Cooler or Insulated Lunch Bag
- Pumping Bra
- Extra Shirt
4. Set Up A Pumping Schedule
You’re probably thinking “How often should you pump while at work?“
How many times does your baby eat in an 8-hour interval? Use that as a reference for how many times you will pump.
So here is a basic pumping schedule that can help you pump at work for the next 6 months. Normally most go back to work (in the US) when the baby is about 3-4 months.
Pumping At Work Schedule
6 AM Before Leaving To Work
Pump or breastfeed baby
9 AM Your First Break
Pump for 10-15 minutes
12 PM Lunch Break
Pump for 15-20 minutes
3 PM Last Break
Pump for 10-15 minutes
You can obviously change the times to match your work hours.
If you have a long drive home from work – you can also pump in your car or pump when you get out of work and then head home.
4. Learn To Multi-Task
I invested in this hands-free pumping bra in order to pump at work. Making it easier for me to do things like – reply to emails, eat, scroll my phone.
You can also hold zoom meetings, FaceTime calls if you are hands-free. Keeping your face in the phone and your lower body out.
You can write out or type anything that needs to be done. Going with a hands-free pumping bra will open the door for you to do a lot while you are pumping.
5. Start Stockpiling Milk Before Returning To Work
One month before you go back to work, start working on creating a breast milk freezer stash. Not sure how to do that? Take this course all about it, and thank me later.
6. Know Your Breast Pump
When you go back to work it should not be the first time you use your pump. You should be able to use your pump and understand how it works before you go back to work to avoid downtime.
You’ll also want to know
- How loud the pump is
- How the fastest setting feels for you
- If it has a letdown mode
- Is it portable
- Can it charge anywhere
- Does it need special equipment
7. Start Your Routine
In order to get you more comfortable with returning to work and having to pull your boos out in the workplace to pump you should start a daily routine at least a week before returning to work.
Here are a few things you can do to help.
- Every night – wash your pumping parts
- Put all items in your pumping bag
- Make a lunch and snacks for the following day
Here are a few things you can do the morning you go to work to make your day-to-day easier.
- Wake up a little earlier
- Breastfeed or pump before leaving to work
- Have extra nipple pads in your bag
8. Keep Breastfeeding Or Pumping At Home
If you want to make sure your supply doesn’t take a hit, keep breastfeeding and pumping at home. This will let your body know that you still need it to produce breastmilk for your baby.
When you get out of work, and pick up your child from daycare or get home to your baby – breastfeed or pump right away. (even if you just pumped before leaving work).
Extra Tip 8.5
Make sure you are drinking a lot of water during your work shift in order to stay hydrated. This will also help keep your milk supply up.
9. Relax When Pumping At Work
This one is a little hard to do, not only are you on a time limit – you also want to get through this as fast as you can in order to feel more like the employee you used to be.
What helped me a lot was playing a video of my son cooing, it helped me relax and also made my milk start to flow.
If you start to feel like your letdown isn’t happening, you can scroll your phone for pictures or videos of your baby.
If that doesn’t help – try bringing something that has the baby’s scent on it. Like a little swaddle, a burp rag, or a small toy. Just having this memento can trigger your body to respond and start a letdown.
10. Stay Healthy
Whenever you have time, try to exercise, eat healthily and spend time with your baby.
I know it can all feel overwhelming when you want and try to do it all. But being healthy not only helps your mind and body it also helps your milk supply – the bond with your baby and the communication you hold with your partner.
11. What To Do If You Leak Through Your Shirt
Remember that section about packing your pumping bag.. The last item was an extra shirt. Even when we wear nipple pads, if we go over 4 hours without pumping we can get engorged and start to leak breast milk faster than we notice.
It may be embarrassing, but just go and change your shirt and put on new nipple pads. *this is why you want to take multiple nipple pads to work*
12. Handling Privacy Issues At Work
If you do not have a private area that has a lock to pump in, you may find yourself in an awkward position with your co-workers.
In order to avoid this – make sure you have a sign that you can put up that says you are pumping.
You can also send daily reminders to co-workers through email that you will be unavailable from this time to that time to make sure they can keep working while you pump.
13. My Pump Isn’t Working – What Now?
Oh no, this happened to me and it was not fun. When your pump goes down it can mean you need new parts like membranes, or tubing, or even just a new wall outlet.
What you can do to avoid engorgement and leaking breasts all day is hand express your breast milk.
You’ll want to go here and read this post to learn just that.
Extra Tip 13.5
When you are pumping your breast milk at work, make sure to massage your breast downward to help your milk flow nicely and easily.
14. What To Do After Pumping
Once you finish a pumping session the next step is to make sure your breastmilk stays cold and gets put away correctly.
If you pumped into milk bottles or storage bags – try to put them into the common work fridge in your pumping cooler bag.
If you do not have a common fridge at work, invest in a mini cooler that you can move with you from the pumping area to your desk. Or you can leave at your work station.
Doing this will make sure that your breast milk stays fresh.
You can also get a breast milk cooler bag and keep your milk stored in it with a cold pack.
Once you figured out where to store your milk, you’ll want to quickly wash your items to avoid having any old milk stay on the pump.
FAQ’s About Working Laws & Pumping
Do Employers Have To Provide A Place To Pump?
You should know that you have rights when it comes to breast pumping in the workplace. If your employer has 50 or more people in one location then you are by law allowed to use time from work to breast pump.
If your employer has less than 50 people they are still required by law to accommodate you unless they can prove that it is a ‘hardship’ to find a suitable pumping area.
This area cannot be a restroom.
Where To Pump In The Work Place
If your employer has over 50 employees you might already have a pump room in a place that you can ask HR about.
If you are unsure – ask your leading manager if you can use a private room, a meeting room.
Do you have a cubicle? You can ask HR to install a curtain rod and a curtain to help you pump in your cubicle.
If you are using a room without a lock – make sure you hang a sign that says Pumping In Session or Occupied, Please Do Not Come In, outside of the door.
Always talk to Human Resources or your manager to figure out where you will be pumping and how they can accommodate you.
How Long Should My Pumping Session Be At Work
You want to be able to empty your breast milk like if you were breastfeeding your child. If you are using a double pump it will help make things faster and more efficient. Most will pump for 10 – 15 minutes with a double breast pump.
Do You Get Paid For Pumping Breaks?
If your employer offers paid breaks you can use that time to pump. Let them know you will be extending that break. The extra time you take for pumping does NOT have to be paid by an employer.
For example, let’s say your employer offers two 15 minute paid breaks every 2 hours with a 30-minute lunch after 4 hours. You can safely add 10-15 minutes after each break for adequate pumping. That means you will be needing 30-35 minutes instead of 15 min. break.
You should aim for pumping the same amount of times you are feeding the baby to avoid your supply dipping.
Which Employees Are Covered Under The Fair Standards Labor Law? (also known as the Break Time For Nursing Mother’s Law)
Employees covered are those who are hourly non-exempt employees.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is here to make sure you get the time you need to pump. Call this number 1-800-487-9243 to be directed to your nearest WHD office. They can help you learn about the laws in your state and how to help you with your employer.
I hope all this information helps you make the transition into going back to work after maternity leave easier on you and I know you found the answer to questions you had about work and pumping.
Want To Remember All These Pumping Tips When You Go Back To Work. Make Sure To Pin The Image Below To Your Favorite Pinterest Board.
The Best Pumping Hacks And Tips For Pumping At Work | What You Need To Know
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- How to Increase Sleep with a Newborn & Exclusively Pumping
Rosaura is the mom blogger who helps first time pregnant and postpartum moms find the solutions to their everyday problems. From first finding out you’re pregnant to giving birth and baby care, she has you covered.