Heading back to work after having a baby isn’t easy. You’ve been home, cuddling that sweet babe, and now it’s time to get back to the grind. If you’re a breastfeeding mom, you’ll have to introduce a bottle and begin a pumping routine. It seems intimidating at first – what if your baby won’t take a bottle? What if you can’t pump enough? These are all valid questions, but don’t fret! We’ve got a little pumping “cheat sheet” here for you so you can ensure you’re prepared for every little thing that can come your way. Now who says working moms can’t do it all?!
Here are 5 pumping strategies for the working mom.
1. Get a Breast Pump. First things first – you need a great double breast pump. Medela Pump In Style Advanced is the go-to choice for working moms. Packed in a sleek bag, you can easily transport the pump, your supplies and your breast milk to and from work. It comes with everything you need, including a freezer pack and bottles to ensure your milk stays cold throughout the day. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced also boasts one of the hardest working (just like you!) breast pumps on the market, ensuring that you get the best suction and most milk.
2. Invest In Some Baby Bottles. Baby also needs something in this situation, and that’s a great bottle that will help preserve your nursing relationship. When I was going back to work, we did a bottle “taste test” a few weeks prior, and the only bottle that worked was the Comotomo. When I first laid eyes on it, I knew this would be the one to work. Ensuring that the bottle mimicked the natural breast as much as possible was something that was important to me, especially because I would still be nursing my daughter before and after work and every other time I was home. Regardless of the bottle that works for you, make sure to introduce it to your baby a few weeks before you go back to work -- in case he or she needs time to adapt.
3. Don’t forget all the other pumping necessities. You should also invest in a few items to keep yourself comfortable. A hands-free nursing bra is a game changer…so instead of sitting there, staring at the wall and holding your pump, you can sit back, relax, read a magazine, browse your phone or even send emails while your pump and bra do all the work. Easy peasy! You should also ensure you always have extra pumping accessories: extra bottles, flanges, storage bags, breast pads…anything you may need. You can also organize all your pumping necessities into a pump bag, like the ones by Sarah Wells. I can’t tell you how many times I forgot my bottles or flanges and had to scramble for a solution.
4. Scheduling Pumping. Now for your schedule. Sometimes it’s hard to break away from work to go pump, but this is something that should be number one on your list. Not pumping enough can hinder your supply and put you at risk of getting a plugged duct. The more you pump, the more your body is telling itself to produce more milk (supply and demand!). I would try to pump two to three times a day – two short pumping sessions in the morning and afternoon, and then one longer one at lunch time. I also nursed my daughter right before I went to work and as soon as I got home. Make sure to talk to your supervisor to have your pumping sessions worked into your daily schedule.
5. Know the Law, know your rights. You’re also legally allowed to pump whenever you need to at work. The Affordable Care Act specifically requires all employers to provide a reasonable amount of time for you to pump until your baby is one year old. They must also provide you a clean, private place to pump (and a bathroom is not one of them). There are very few exceptions, but you can read the entire law here. Hands in the air for laws being passed!
While pumping can be draining some days -- lugging that bag, pumping in a corner of a room, not getting as much milk as you’d like -- don’t stress. You’re being a legit super-mom: working, raising a baby and pumping throughout the day! Give yourself a huge pat on the back and make that milk – err, magic happen!