Leaving your little one to return to your job is not an easy thing, especially if that means you will be pumping at work. Whether or not you’re excited to go have some much-needed adult interaction or are tearfully dreading the return, if you’re a breastfeeding mom, it can be complicated!
Not only are you worrying about finding the perfect daycare, and trying to figure out when you’ll have time to shower and sleep, you’ve got to figure out how to maintain your supply by pumping at work!
Now I’ll admit, I was never a breastfeeding mom, and my little ones are off the boob juice. But I was a long-term exclusive pumper that had to make the return to the workforce.
Below I’ll share, all of my favorite necessities, tips on how I managed, and a cute door sign to hang up when you’re in business!
Before going back I highly recommend letting HR or your boss know your plans to pump at work. You are legally protected and they must provide you with a designated room with a lock. Do Not Pump In A Bathroom!
This is where I failed first. I didn’t let them know my plans. Turns out there wasn’t a single lock other than the bathrooms in my entire office, and I worked with mostly men. I had to use empty offices when they were available and sometimes sit in my car. I eventually was walked in on by a male coworker so I decided it was time to speak up. In retrospect, I should have at least hung a sign, so I made an adorable one for you below!
There are now locks on every door and they cleared out a corner in the storage room for me and set up a rocking chair and table. My output was so much better when I could relax and not worry about who was going to come busting in.
I had planned on buying one of those nice Medela coolers but my local Target didn’t have it in stock. I ended up getting a one from Amazon and a few ice blocks and they exceeded my expectations. The top storage area was the perfect size to fit my flanges and the bottom part had enough room for two ice packs and a few bottles. I then packed it all up and stored it in the office fridge.
Pumping at work made some of my office mates uncomfortable so it was a nice way to keep everything cool without shoving it in my coworkers face or grossing them out when I set it next to their lunch. ( I obviously don’t think it’s gross but I try to be respectful, especially to my childless male coworkers :P)
Washing Pump Parts
I did not wash anything at work. Stay with me here!
I brought a quart ziplock bag, my flanges, two bottles to pump into, and one large one for storage. If you’ve got a larger supply you may need more storage bottles. When I was done the flanges went in the baggie and then into the top of the cooler. The milk was dumped into the storage bottle and then all of the bottles with lids go in the top part with the ice packs. I zipped it up and it all went into the fridge until the next pump session. Every night everything got sterilized in the dishwasher while I slept. If you don’t have extra parts, check out Maymom, their spare parts are very affordable!
Long story short, as long as you are keeping your parts cold with ice or refrigeration, you do not have to wash after every pump. Save that hassle for home!
I’d like to write and say that I bought a fancy Nurse Purse, but I just wasn’t able to justify it. I actually used my old Vera Bradley diaper bag from my first son. It was large enough to carry my pump, hands-free bra (If you don’t own one buy one!), some snacks and my wallet. I gave up on a purse a long time ago. Lesson being, find a great pump bag!
Set A Pump Schedule
I was able to pump at work 3 times a day. I tried to keep it a set schedule so they knew what to expect and could schedule meetings and customers around that. Typically I pumped at 9-12-3 for 30-40 minutes. I brought my laptop with me on my 9 & 3. Unless I was meeting my husband for lunch I typically would grab something and come back and eat while I pumped. I did my best to get completely empty each time without spending too much time away from my desk.
Add A Night Pump Session For Low Supply
I’m not an over supplier. I’m a just enough-er. I pump 9 oz at work and he eats approx 12. This means I pumped at night whether or not he woke up to eat. It’s the time I produced the most and it carried me through the day. If you are struggling to keep up with the demands of your little one I suggest some evening power pumping sessions and adding a middle of the night pump back in.
I would highly recommend starting your freezer stash in the early days when you’re engorged. This saved me a lot of heartaches. On the days I wasn’t able to keep up I didn’t stress, I just went to the freezer and thawed out a few ounces. Had I only had a small stash when I went back to work I would have been constantly stressing about running out which is counterproductive when the goal was to relax.
If you are still feeling overwhelmed, I have to solution for you. There is an amazing online class offered over a Milkology. For only $19 you can take a comprehensive online course in only 90 minutes that will have you fully prepared to head back to work while keeping a steady supply of breast milk for your little one. Some examples of information offered in the class include building a freezer stash, protecting your milk supply, and making a plan with your employer among many other great segments. Check it out here!