If you work outside the home and have recently given birth, you may be preparing to go back to work soon. For many, pumping at work will be part of that journey. Transitioning from breastfeeding a newborn at home to pumping at work can be daunting and stressful.
But don't worry, we've got you!
Here are seven tips to smoothly transition from breastfeeding a newborn to pumping at work:
1. Consider your pumping schedule, then plan and prepare.
Preparation—in all areas of your life—will be a lifesaver as you get back to work. Pumping can take a lot of time, so prepping the other areas of your life can make it feel a lot less nervewracking.
For me and for my clients, planning the night before is a huge help. It allows you to take control of the day and manage your time accordingly so that you run your day, not the other way around. Taking care of non-pumping related tasks will make pumping feel less stressful. Whether it's packing lunches for older kids or laying out clothes for yourself, it will give you the ability to prioritize with a clear mind.
2. Wake up early.
Set an alarm to wake up before your baby. (I know, I know!) This can be a valuable time to have for yourself to get some peace while getting dressed and ready for your day. It can also help to avoid scrambling to get yourself and everyone else out the door simultaneously.
An early start to your day can also help you allocate time to nurse and bond with your baby before the hecticness of the day begins. Alternatively, you can use your early waking hours to pump. This is a huge time-saver that will easily mark one more thing off your to-do list, as well as help to maintain your milk supply.
3. Communicate with your team.
When getting back to work, have a transparent conversation with your supervisor and coworkers regarding your choice to pump. Having one big upfront conversation will be less stressful than multiple smaller ones negotiating what your pumping situation will be like. The most important aspect of getting back to work as a nursing mom is that you are on the same page as your supervisor.
Make sure your team is aware that you will have to make time throughout the day to pump and ask to take your time into consideration with work-related tasks, meetings, etc.
4. Schedule pumping hours.
Scheduling "pumping hours" on your calendar is a professional way of updating your coworkers so that you won't have to constantly announce or ask for 30 minutes to pump. If you have a meeting, consider talking about your situation in advance and excuse yourself when it's time.
5. Create a 'do not disturb' space.
Make a "do not disturb" sign to hang on your office door or other designated pumping area that will signal to your coworkers that you are unavailable. A hard knock on the door while you are pumping can be a little unnerving, and certainly won't help you get that milk out any quicker.
While having a space to pump will vary depending on your situation, you should be able to find an area that is private or makes you feel comfortable. If you are in an employee-centric workplace, they may even have a designated lactation room.
6. Invest in multiple sets of breast pump accessories.
Consider investing in two or more sets of pump accessories, or other tools you may use. You can keep one set at home and the other in your car or workplace. This can help alleviate the stress and time associated with pumping and reduces how much stuff you have to lug back and forth. And, you won't have to worry about forgetting an essential.
7. Use a breast pump backpack.
This may seem like a simple tip, but an important one. Handling more than one shoulder bag is not only uncomfortable for the day-to-day pumping mom, but detrimental to your back and health over time.
Instead, use a backpack to carry the items you will need for a successful pumping experience when being on the go. Pack necessities such as quick wipes that can be used to clean the pump parts, as well as an ice pack to store milk properly.
Ultimately going back to work can be a daunting proposition, but setting good expectations for yourself, your peers, supervisors and family can make a big difference. Planning and investing a little extra in whatever you can do to make life a little more convenient for you will help ease the transition.