Going back to work after maternity leave, let alone pumping at work, was difficult. I stressed about my baby in daycare; I stressed about how much baby was eating; wondering how much he might cry or sleep. I also stressed about my performance at work; about commuting; about pumping milk.
If I was going to keep nursing and pumping, I knew I had to make it as easy as I could at work. There are now a record number of American moms that are breastfeeding, but there is a significant drop in breastfeeding rates between 6-months and one year. One of the reasons could be because trying to nursing and pumping at work is hard.
Here are 5 tips that might help set you up for successful pumping at work:
Quality Pump. I invested in a electric, closed system, double pump for work (which would have been free with the Affordable Care Act). It was important for me that it was a closed system that put a barrier between the milk and the pump tubing. Being able to pump both breasts simultaneously was a huge time saver. I also bought a manual pump for home; since I nurse on demand and don’t often have to pump at home.The Philips Avent bottles fit the new Spectra wide neck pump horns – bonus!
Pumping nursing bras and tanks. There are some great specialty bras from Rumina, Dairy Fairy, and Simple Wishes that you can wear comfortably all day and not have to deal with changing in and out of with a pumping corset. It makes tremendous difference to have a hands free pump bra. Don’t forget the Bamboobies for when you get a little leaky.
Nursing/Pumping friendly clothing. I’m lucky my office has a dedicated space for nursing moms to pump, but my day was made easier when I could simple unzip the front of my dress. Tops and dresses that have a surplice neckline or double-layer make it faster to hook up a pump or nurse-on-demand. Companies like Milla – Beyond Maternity (which I founded), Latched Mama, and Figure 8 Maternity offer options at different price points and styles.
Dedicated pumping schedule. I blocked off three 30-minute breaks each day to pump: 9am, 12pm and 3pm. This was critical when I first went back to work to manage being engorged. As time went on, I dropped to two pump sessions (11am and 4pm). Sure some days it was hard to juggle meetings, but Federal law states that most employers must provide breaks and a private place to pump. Most states also have a law that protects nursing moms as well. All the more reason to have your bra and clothing have easy, fast access.
Steady water intake and balanced diet. It’s very important to drink a lot water and eat foods that encourage milk production, such as oatmeal. There are some great oatmeal cookie recipes that double as ‘lactation cookies.’
Every day was a success that I could nurse and I made time for pumping. The game changers for me were the pump bra and nursing-friendly clothing. That quick access allowed me to cut my pump breaks to between 15-20 minutes. The longer I nursed my baby, the more confident I became, and that helped my milk supply.
Now I try not to cry over spilled breastmilk (which at the time feels devastating), and if I only get to pump once – that is stills meal I made for baby.
Hang in there mamas, and #keeponboobin.
About Kristine Golden:
Kristine is the founder of Milla Beyond Maternity which offers business-appropriate, functional clothing for nursing/pumping women and a fashion-forward “chewelry” (chewable jewelry) collection that is easy to wear, easy to wash and safe for teething babies. Take 15% off all orders through 12/30 with coupon code: PBB15 at www.WearMilla.com
Read Kristine’s interview with Philly Baby Bump