Returning to work after having a baby brings a whole new set of emotions, challenges, and milestones. Knowing what to expect can give you peace of mind and help you (and your child!) achieve success in this transition. Follow these helpful tips to make inflating at work as stress-free as possible.
Know your rights
As a lactation and pumping officer, you have certain legal rights. The “Law for Breastfeeding Mothers” Law requires employers to follow Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide a space other than the bathroom, which is “shielded from view and from co-workers and the public”. Although the law requires employers to provide time and space for pumping, it does not require them to pay for pump breaks. To see what this will be like for you and your employer, it’s important to talk to them before the baby is born.
Prepare your boss
It’s best to start a conversation with your boss or human resources department about inflating at work before you go back to work. Let them know that you plan to breastfeed and will pump at work. This gives you a chance to discover where you’ll be pumping and the type of room you might need to make the space right. It also gives you the opportunity to determine what a pump schedule might look like, how to deal with machine failures, and whether you will be paid for pump failures. The Office of Women’s Health has resources to share with your employer to help make this conversation a little easier.
Tips for working at work like a boss
Buy a breast pump
It’s important to have a high-quality breast pump if you’re going to rely on it to feed your little one. The Affordable Care Act requires most insurance plans to provide Free breast pump for you or at a discounted rate. There are many options when it comes to breast pumps. If you’re not sure which breast pump to buy, sign up Free Breast Pump Discovery webinaror read these quick articles to learn about types of breast pumps as well as the best wearable and rechargeable breast pump.
Practice before going to work
Familiarize yourself with your pump before getting back to work. Sterilize all pump parts and practice putting everything back together. Not sure what all the parts and pieces are? Sign up for one Open your Pump virtual consultation box to learn what things are, how to put them together, and pump tips and tricks. Try out the settings to get a feel for what is most comfortable and what stimulates milk flow best. Having these pumping sessions before going back to work will also help you stock up on your fridge.
Construction of cold storage
If you’re looking to babysit while you’re at work, it’s a good idea to have a milk supply ready. This gives you milk to send with your baby and allows you to have a little headroom during the first days and weeks of pumping. It is not necessary to have a full freezer before returning to work. In most cases, pumping can be started 4-6 weeks after the baby is born, as long as breastfeeding is complete.
Prepare your child care provider, your child and you
Before leaving your child in home care, consider a gradual approach. Perhaps you can give your child a day or two off instead of full time for the first week. If you work close enough, visit during your lunch break and breastfeed your baby. Even just a quick visit to where your child will be before the full-time schedule begins, can give you peace of mind and introduce your child to the environment they will be in. This can make the transition easier for you, your baby, and your child care provider.
If you’re lucky enough to have an employer provide a nursing room, find out what the schedule is like and how you can fit into your pumping sessions. If not, you’re not alone. If your employer does not provide a nursing room, you can request anonymity for your human resources department for a more lactation-friendly working environment. Whether there’s a designated nursing room, or a special accommodation for you while you pump, scheduling helps both you and your employer know what to expect.
Prepare the pump parts the night before
Putting your pump parts together the night before can give you some precious time during the day. It also keeps you organized and ensures you have everything you need for your sessions. Get a pump bag like this Sarah Wells breast pump bag gives you enough room to carry all your assembled pump parts, spare pump parts, some snacks, and your water, all with a bit of style.
More pump parts available
Avoid the stress of failing pump components by always having spare parts and collection kits with you. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on replacing pump components to maintain optimal function. If you’re going to be assembling your pump parts the night before, having enough kit to get you through the day will make setup much easier.
Bring water and snacks
Adequate hydration and proper nutrition are essential not only for your health and well-being, but also for maintaining a healthy milk supply. Carry a large, reusable water bottle with you to stay hydrated. Keep snacks in your pump bag or store a few at work. Having the right fuel for the day will help you fuel your pumps.
While you really shouldn’t be working while pumping if at all possible, it’s still extremely helpful if you can hands free pump bra. This gives you the flexibility to use your hands when pumping. If you have a rechargeable breast pump, it also gives you more mobility to perform multiple tasks.
Set up lactation station
Pumping in a comfortable “lactation station” will help your milk flow more, create an overall better experience, and help you achieve your breastfeeding and pumping goals. Have pictures or videos of your baby to help encourage frustration. Listen to music, read a book, play a game, or watch a show to help you stay calm during your inflating sessions. Know where you’ll be storing your milk after pumping, whether it’s a shared fridge, a nursing staff-only fridge, or an insulated cooler bag.
Speed up the cleaning process
Being able to quickly clean your pump parts can eliminate precious minutes from your work session. Consider buying Medela clean or Super small steam bag to make it easier to clean pump components in the workplace. Or you can choose to bring the required number of collection kits for each session of the day, then take all the dirty parts home and wash them off later day or night.
How long to pump
Finding the right pump schedule can take some trial and error. However, there are some general thoughts to keep in mind.
- Pump at least as often as baby eats
- Pump every 2-3 hours
- If your work schedule is erratic, plan to pump when there is a 10 to 15 minute window, even if you just pumped an hour ago
- Milk supply can determine how often to pump
- Keep communication open with your boss, especially in the early days back as you and your body adjust.