To all the ladies out there planning to pump at work:
WAY TO GO!
It is not an easy feat to pump at work, but I am glad you are giving it a go.
If pumping is what you want – do whatever you can to make it happen. Do not let people at work stop you. Do not feel guilty about taking your time away from work. If it gets hard and complicated just know it is a temporary situation. The only thing that should motivate you is your baby.
If you are wondering what kind of schedule you can expect and other things to consider when pumping at work – read on!
During your maternity leave, do whatever you can to build up your breast milk supply. If you are prepared with lots of milk, pumping at work is the cherry on the top and just extra. So do everything you can to prepare in advance.
Typically, I was able to pump only at work and exclusively breastfeed at home. That is the ideal situation because you want to give your baby your all when you are home. Plus, you will be exhausted once you are back at work so having to only breastfeed when you are home makes it easier.
Now if you do not have a large milk supply, it is crucial to pump as much as you can at work. This may mean pumping multiple times a day at work and even pumping at home when your baby is sleeping.
All situations are unique, so be prepared for any curve balls that may come up. If your baby is going through a growth spurt or hitting any other milestones, she may drink more or less.
An example of a pumping schedule
Honestly, my schedule was pump at work and breastfeed at home. But things changed, as my daughter grew older.
The amount you pump varies based on your supply, how much your baby needs and other variables. When you go back to work, if you exclusively breastfed your baby, your breast milk production will be plenty. Your full breasts may even be painful, that is why you need to pump while away from your baby.
But as time goes on and your baby starts eating solids, amongst other things, you will be able to reduce your pumping. Or if your baby is breastfeeding less, your supply will also go down, hence you will have to pump less often.
Here is the amount of times you can expect to pump daily based on your babies age:
0-3 months – pump at work about 3 times
4-6 months – pump at work about 2 times
7-12 months – pump at work 2-1 times
12 months – was when I stopped pumping at work (based on laws and I was ready)
Here is a typical day of pumping at work and breastfeeding at home:
5 a.m. Morning Breastfeeding at Home
10 a.m. Pump session at Work
3 p.m. Pump session at Work
1 p.m. Pump session at Work
5 p.m. Evening Breastfeeding at Home
8 p.m. Bedtime Breastfeeding at Home
10 p.m. Pump Session at Home (if you need to increase your milk supply inventory)
Sometimes I would breastfeed my daughter even earlier than 5 a.m., to ensure she had a full tummy. It helped her get ready for the day and she would be asleep for the next few hours, which was easier for whoever was taking care of her. She slept longer and was in a better mood when she had a large breakfast.
When you first go back to work pumping about three times is pretty normal, some women may need to do so even more. I pumped at times that were considered ‘breaks’ and ‘lunch’ just to not disturb my workflow and to be available when my coworkers were in full force.
As mentioned above, as time goes by you can pump less and less at work. Do so if you do not need as much milk at home and as your body gets used to being away from your baby. You will know when you are ready. I think I pumped once a day around 1 p.m. the most, for quite a few months actually. It was around lunchtime and my body had enough time to fill up for my evening breastfeeding session.
When my daughter turned one, my body was ready to stop pumping at work. My body adjusted over the months to make less and less milk during the day. The first week that I stopped pumping at work was a bit painful and I needed plenty of breast pads to put in my bra. But once my body got used to not pumping,
If your child is like mine, as soon as you get home, your child is going to want to nurse. It is a great way to greet each other after a long day apart. It is usually the best part of my day! Now that she is almost 18 months that is still our routine.
Keep in mind these times and examples of schedules are just to give you an idea. Especially for you new moms out there. These were the best practices for me, you have to figure out what works best for you, but having this knowledge will empower you to be confident moving forward.
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Find out the pumping at work laws in your state
The very first thing you must do is find out the pumping laws in your state. They all vary, here is a link that provides more information: Breastfeeding State Laws.
I live in Texas, so my employer must provide me space and time to pump. If your employer is more laid back and supportive, knowing the basics of the law is good enough.
If your employer is strict, and not supportive of your pregnancy – then study up and know your rights. There are many sources that can help you out with this, so reach out if needed.
Go over everything with your boss/supervisor or whoever is in charge
When I knew I was going to be pumping at work, I immediately began working everything out in my head and from there I typed out a proposal for my supervisor.
My pumping proposal included:
- Time of day I will be pumping
- The amount of time it will take to pump (roughly an hour)
- An idea of how long I will be pumping (I put about a year)
- Any expected interference in my work (such as missing a meeting)
I was also prepared with the laws on pumping at work, but luckily my supervisor was not interested in that and agreed with whatever I proposed. Since my boss is male, I also discussed this topic with a female supervisor within our organization prior so she could be back me if needed. If you have an HR representative that may be the person you should speak to directly.
When discussing this with anyone at work, be prepared to answer questions.
Find out if there is a place to pump at work
While I was pregnant, I was talking to one of my coworkers and she mentioned that there was a pumping room in the building. At that point in my pregnancy, I had not even thought about having space to pump. Luckily one had been made in my building recently.
Now I mentioned it had been made recently because it was not there when I had been in that part of the building about half a year earlier. That means that someone must have taken initiative to have it made.
You may have to do the legwork to get a space to pump at your work.
I know someone who was given a little room, it was probably a broom closet initially, but they put in a sink and lock and viola it was the pumping room from that point on.
For the most part, those are the requirements a space that is not a restroom, with a sink and lock. You may have to make your space more at home and comfortable on your own.
There are some workplaces that are not as friendly, I know someone who had to pump in their manager’s office. Not ideal. It is a work in progress at many workplaces. Do not be afraid to get vocal about your needs.
Getting through awkward interactions
When someone sees you with your bags leaving your office, they are going to ask, “hey, where are you going?” Do you let them know that you are pumping? It makes you feel awkward and it also makes them regret asking. Believe me, I went through it daily. My pumping room was on the floor below my office, so I had quite a walk.
What I did with my coworkers who worked directly with me, was explained in little detail that I was going to pump. From then on I called it ‘going to watch Frasier’ because that is what I watched while pumping. Once I started saying that, they knew exactly where I was going.
Now people that I walked by in the halls, depending on who they were, is the answer I would give. If it was someone I was comfortable with I would let them know. If it was someone who I did not know well, I would say I was going to a meeting or just say I am going downstairs. If it is someone who I was not comfortable telling, but that person was concerned about my whereabouts, that is when I would be honest and explain what I was doing.
It just depends on the situation, but never feel that you have to explain yourself. It really is your business and you have the law on your side.
It’s a delicate balance dividing your time between breastfeeding and pumping. It is also a delicate
I guarantee you can do it! Tap into your mommy superpowers.
It is not an easy feat, leaving your child daily for at least 8 hours or so can be detrimental at times. But one way to feel better about it is providing your milk for your baby while you are out. That is why even though it is difficult, seems daunting, and just an overall pain to pump, in the end, it is worth it.
It is worth keeping your breast milk production high and keeping your actual supply at home inventoried well. Remember, it really is a temporary situation and your baby will grow so fast, pumping at work will be a fond memory before you know it. If you play your cards right, it is a nice break from work, where you can watch several seasons of Frasier.
If you have any questions or comments, you know what to do. I am here to help and want you to be successful in pumping at work.