For new moms, returning to a regular routine can be hectic after baby arrives, especially if you're choosing to pump at work. However, there are several things you can do to help ease the transition of returning to work as pumping dictates your schedule.
Here are 9 key tips to keep in mind:
Pack like a pro
1. Consider getting a breast pump bag, tote or mini cooler to easily store your pump and all of its accessories. Look for convenient totes and backpacks that perfectly fit your pump and pumping supplies. Some even have insulated areas to help store your breast milk for a few hours after pumping, but coolers are also a good idea to safely keep breastmilk cold if you don't want to or can't store it in your office fridge.
2. Create a Back To Work Pumping Checklist to follow while packing every night. This will help you remember to pack each piece you'll need during the day, such as the tubing and ice packs.
3. Assemble each part prior to packing to save time during pumping breaks, and remember to charge the batteries. Take extra parts or a backup pump to keep in your car or office in case you forget something.
Plan your outfits
4. Wear pump-friendly clothing. To make sure you're always dressed comfortably to quickly pump at a moment's notice, consider wearing your nursing bra all day to help make things easier. Just remember your nipple pads. Plus, you can always wear loose-fitting shirts or button-downs that make it easy to place the breast shield without totally undressing.
5. Try a nursing cover. It's also beneficial to have a nursing cover or large scarf to provide you with some instant privacy if you can't find a 100% secluded area to pump. If you have trouble pumping away from your child, bring their photo or an article of their clothing (like a tiny sock or soft onesie) with you to help increase milk flow.
Plan out the logistics
6. Practice at home. Before pumping at work, practice at home to gain experience with quickly and easily expressing milk. Keep track of what times you pump and how long your pumping sessions last, so you can schedule your pumping breaks on your work calendar. This can be helpful so coworkers won't schedule meetings around those times.
7. Talk to your managers. Don't be afraid to have conversations with your employer before your maternity leave to ensure that they are ready to properly support your transition and understand your needs. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers must provide a private, functional space for the use of expressing breast milk by an employee, although the design of the lactation room isn't specified. Many employers aren't always aware of what moms need, so before you head out on maternity leave, suggest for them to include things that you might need. If you feel nervous about making this request, back it up with a few resources that state that facts about what's essential for women to pump at work. Think: a sink in the nursing room to give you the ability to wash your pump parts, a mini fridge to store your milk and a mirror for getting dressed after pumping.
8. Find a suitable location. If you're out of the office and find yourself needing to pump in a different public location, you can use the Pumpspotting app to find a location nearby.
9. Stock up on breast pump wipes. If you don't have access to a sink, breast pump wipes can be used to wipe milk out of your pump parts until you can make it home to properly sanitize your equipment. Otherwise, place items that came into contact with expressed milk in plastic bags and store them with your breast milk until you can clean them.
Your routine doesn't have to drastically change while breastfeeding or pumping. By packing everything you need in advance and knowing when and how long to pump, you'll find a schedule that works best for you.