If you have recently had a baby and are now planning on going back to work, you probably have a lot on your mind. And that’s before we even consider all of those postpartum hormones racing through your system. One area of concern if you are breastfeeding your baby, may be about balancing work and also keeping your milk supply going by pumping at work. I’m going to go over some tips that may help you breast pump easily at work.
Plan and Get A Routine Going
Your body was made to adjust to the demands placed on it. How much you feed your baby and how much you pump your milk will determine how much milk your body will produce. It may take your body several weeks postpartum to figure out how much milk your baby needs. That is why most mothers experience huge breasts initially and engorgement. Soon the body will adapt to produce just the milk that is needed.
It will help to get your body into a routine that will be similar to when you will be able to pump at work. If you plan on pumping during a mid-morning break, at lunch, and then mid-afternoon, it will be to your benefit to start pumping on that same schedule before you go back to work. Your body will soon adjust to being ready to let down the milk around your work schedule. Get yourself on a breast pumping schedule several weeks in advance before you return to work.
Choose Your Clothes Carefully
To pump out breast milk, you are going to have to have access to your breasts. This is going to require a bit of undressing at work. You may want to look through your closet for clothes that don’t require you to fully undress or totally take off your blouse or top. Button up shirts work great for breast pumping mamas. You may also want to wear a nursing tank under your shirt every day. Don’t forget to pack some breast pads, so that you don’t have any embarrassing leakage happening while you are working.
Plan To Stay Hydrated
Producing milk takes a lot of work. Your body is going to need your help to stay efficient and not become dehydrated. Plan on how you are going to stay hydrated. Make sure to pack a water bottle. Start getting used to monitoring your water intake so that you get in enough while you are working.
Plan For Where You Will Store the Milk
Make sure that your workplace has a refrigerator where you can store your pumped milk. Or, if you are more comfortable storing it in a chilled cooler, make sure to buy one ahead of time. You may have several bottles of milk that you are producing during the day. Your breast pump may or may not have come with a cooler. If it didn’t, there are many options for material type coolers online and also at Walmart.
Plan on How You Will Relax at Work While Pumping
For milk to get from your body to the bottle, you are going to need to relax. The releasing of milk is known as letdown. Some mothers find that by taking a photo of their baby to work or listening to a recording of their baby, helps with the letdown response. You may want to practice this at home. I remember walking out to my barn one night to feed my horses when I heard my baby’s voice on a walkie-talkie (similar to a baby monitor). Immediately my milk let down right then and there. I never expected that to happen. But the sound of her softly whimpering for me was all it took. Love is a powerful thing. Start planning on what you will take to work that reminds you of your little one so that your milk will let down.
Pack Power Lunches
Your body will need to meet the demands now of your job while also continuing to be a milk producing machine. This all adds up to the fact that you will need extra calories and nutrition to get you through your day. Make sure to plan to eat a well-balanced lunch every day, but make sure to pack some protein-rich snacks too. Some ideas to pack include yogurt, cheese, beef sticks, and milk. If you don’t plan accordingly, you may be raiding the junk machine or donuts in the break room. Good nutrition will not just happen if you don’t plan for it.
Find a Breastfeeding Mentor
If there is another woman at your place of work who is or has pumped at work, try to make friends with that person. A mentor and friend who has gone through the same struggles as you can help and encourage you along. Sometimes just sharing an embarrassing breast pumping memory or laughing together over it, can help relieve a lot of stress. If you don’t have a coworker, who has breast pumped, than any other breast pumping friend would work.
Plan On What You May Want To Multitask At
In general, women are great multitaskers. For some of us, we seldom do one thing at a time. Breast pumping moms may want to plan on considering what kind of work tasks that they could get done while pumping. Once the milk begins to let down, the machine takes over and does all of the work. This may be a great time to catch up on an email, look through a report, or watch an instructional video.
If you are about to go back to work and plan to pump, it will help to plan ahead to make the transition from home to work easier. I’ve gone over some tips for breast pumping at work. When you may feel frustrated, remember that you are not alone. Many women pump while they are at work. Most will have gone through the same struggles and feelings that you have. Remember to pat yourself on the back for the effort that you are making to ensure that your baby has the best nutrition on the planet. Happy pumping!