Having a new baby is difficult for any mother. That difficulty is intensified, however, when that mother works outside the home. And it is even more difficult if you choose to breastfeed. Because you are not home to breastfeed, there are some real challenges. The following are some good tips and recommendations for working moms who breastfeed and how to produce breast milk at work while keeping your sanity.
1. Get A Spare Pump
Breast pumps can be a little pricey, depending on which type you get. But most pumps are bulky and a pain to transport from home to work. Have a good pump that is designated for work only and keep it at your workplace. If you cannot store it at work, keep it in the car.
2. Inquire About Pumping At Work
This might strike you as awkward, but having this conversation can pay off. A friend of mine inquired at work and actually a special room was designated for breastfeeding mothers. Imagine pumping in the privacy of a room with a nice chair rather than in a shared bathroom. You might find a good deal of support from your employer. In fact, your employer has to make reasonable accommodations for you to pump due to a new federal law.
3. Maintain Etiquette
If you breastfeed, you are clearly gung ho about the benefits of breast milk for your baby. But, as you probably know, not everyone is as excited. Some people are put off. So show some regard for others. For example, if you are keeping your milk in the fridge, consider putting it away in a lunch bag. If you are breastfeeding at work, make sure to go to a secluded area and don’t do it in front of co-workers.
In addition, depending on your office setup, you might pump in a variety of places. Some people choose to pump in their office. But the worst possible scenario for breastfeeding moms is for a co-worker to walk in. So if you pump in your office and the door does not lock, put up a discreet note. And make sure the note is large and obvious enough for people to see it. This will prevent accidents and mortification of both you and your co-workers.
4. Deal With Sadness
Some moms report sadness when they pump at work. It reminds them that they have a baby at home that they cannot currently cuddle. Working while having a new child is definitely very difficult, even more so if you are a first time mom. One way to deal with the sadness is actually by pumping. It is a way to be connected to your child even when you are away from him because you are providing nourishment for later. When you get home and feed your child, you will be reunited.
5. Stay On Schedule
Whether you are working or not, having a routine is critical. As in other areas of your life, your body is most functional when you are in a routine. The same holds true for pumping. This is somewhat difficult at work, especially if you have a job where one day looks nothing like the next. From the beginning, you need to be firm with your boss and co-workers that you need to take a break at a particular time to pump milk and whatever urgent matter they have must wait. Make sure to set those boundaries at the beginning of when you begin breastfeeding your baby.
6. Look At Pictures Of Your Baby
One of the best things to stimulate milk production is looking at your child. If you are at work, you can’t see them in real life. But you can definitely see pictures of them on your phone. Videos might even work better. Watch your baby before or during your pumping. This should speed up the process and get your back to your desk sooner.
7. Remember You Are Saving Time And Money
Women who pump milk at work often report stress. Even if they have supportive employers, they feel like they are not contributing at work like other employees and are instead taking time for family stuff. They report that work takes longer due to these breaks. But in the end, breastfeeding really is worth it. Women who breastfeed save about $1,200-$1,500 per year. If you breastfeed, you do not have to buy formula. But even more important is that breastfeeding saves you time. This is because breastfed children are less likely to get sick. If your child is less likely to get sick, you will not need to call in to work. So while it might be costing you a little time now to pump at work, you will ultimately be a more productive worker.
8. Cut Back On Coffee – And Junk
Breast milk is composed of what moms eat and drink. So if you are putting junk into your body, you are not the only one paying the price – your child is. Your good diet must continue after the pregnancy and through your time breastfeeding. Make sure you eat lots of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. Avoid junk food. But it is also a good idea to avoid a lot of caffeine. And no, not because your child will get a java buzz. It is because caffeine will actually make you dehydrated. When breastfeeding moms do not get enough water, the milk supply dries up. You truly cannot drink enough water when you are breastfeeding. Remember that when you pump, you are losing fluids. So make sure to get at least eight cups of water a day, and aim to get much more than that. If you still drink coffee, make sure to double up on the water.
9. Keep Spare Clothing At Work
When you are lactating, things can get messy in a hurry. You might spill on yourself while you are pumping. Or because you are lactating, you might leak through your bra. Always make sure to keep at least a spare bra and blouse at work. This way, you do not have to rush home and change or, worse, suffer through a day and be self-conscious.
10. Make Spare Pump Parts At Work
You want to make sure to clean your pump right away. But there might be times where you need to pump again and do not have a spare part. Sanitation is incredibly important when you are pumping. So consider having some spare parts at work for situations like this. They will also come in handy in case a part breaks down.
11. Pump Right Away
Make pumping a priority. So the best thing you can do is just pump pretty close to the first thing in the morning. Check your email, go to a morning meeting and take care of any pressing issues. Then pump. That way, it is out of the way and you can focus on getting your other work done. If you do not make pumping a priority, you will get engorged, which can cause some problems for you, including mastitis. Do not let that happen to you.
12. Don’t Stress Out
There will be up days and down days for production. It is just like work. Some days you are firing on all cylinders and other days you find yourself on social media instead of getting important projects done. Similarly, your body on some days just really will not want to produce milk. Recognize that from the beginning. If you get stressed, this will negatively impact milk production. So if you go to pump and nothing or little comes out, do not stress out. If you have to supplement with a little formula, your child will still be fine. You are not a failure.
13. Learn How To Hand Express
Yes, having a quality pump and spare parts will be crucial to your success. But having a backup to your backup is never a bad idea. Let’s say the pump just completely busts. Or you are running low on time. Hand pumping is always an option and can be done in a pinch. You will want to practice this at home just to get the hang of it. Having this skill in your back pocket will help you de-stress, because you know that no matter what, you’ll be able to pump at work.
14. Get Support From Coworkers
While not every coworker is a fan of breastfeeding, there will likely be other moms who are either going through what you are going through or have been there. Talk to these people. They will be your cheerleaders on the hard days when milk production is low or you are otherwise having a lousy day. Having that extra support in the office makes life that much easier.
15. Seek Help
If you are having trouble breastfeeding at home or at work, do not suffer in silence. Talk to a professional. Your struggles might be due to something as simple as being on the wrong setting. A professional can help you figure out what is wrong and how to correct it.
Remember, if you choose to breastfeed or pump at work, you are in for excitement. Thing are bound to go wrong. Accidents happen. It can be awkward. Go in with a positive attitude and remember that this is for the health of your baby. Nothing is more important than that.