Making Your Back-to-Work Plan, The Pumping Edition

We recently teamed up with Jennifer Mayer, founder of Baby Caravan, and Birth Doula for over 12 years, to get her advice about mothers who are going back to work and are committed to breastfeeding and maintaining their pumping schedule. Read below for her thoughts and suggestions, and to start your back-to-work plan.

For many mothers, the return to work is filled with lots of stress, concern and worry. Leaving your new baby in the arms of an entrusted caregiver and returning to work is never easy. For moms who are committed to breastfeeding, creating a good pumping
plan is a huge asset.

Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. In order to produce enough milk for your child’s feedings, it’s essential that you pump on a regular and consistent basis. Many moms are concerned about their supply when they return to work, since they will be away from their baby. It’s true that the pump is not quite as efficient to remove milk as compared to your baby, and your supply may decrease. However, there are a few things you can do to keep your supply up while pumping at work.

1) Make A Schedule: The most important thing when pumping at work, is making sure you pump on a consistent basis. Usually pumping at least twice while you’re away (every 4 hours), and ideally three times while you’re away (every 3 hours) will be often enough. To ensure your pump sessions occur, schedule them into your daily schedule if possible.

2) Have a Dedicated Pump Spot: Some offices have lactation rooms already available, and other places of employment do not. If possible, speak with HR prior to returning to work to sort out where you can pump when you return to work. Make sure it’s not a bathroom!

3) Grab Your Gear: You’ll likely want to have one pump at the office, and another at home. Prepare for your first day by bringing an extra set up pump parts as back-up, and extra shirt (just in case!) and extra storage bottles. You’ll also want to bring a cooler bag to transport your milk home in. We love the Pack-It coolers.

4) Breastfeed When You’re Home: One way moms ensure to keep up their supply is to nurse often when they are home with their baby. Depending on how well your little one is sleeping at night, you may want to feed more often in the evening and in the morning hours. On the weekends you can spend time nursing to boost
your supply and have lots of bonding time with your baby.

Some workplaces are more supportive than others when it comes to pumping at work. Hopefully your employer respects how important and beneficial breastfeeding is.

However if you’re the first employee to pump at work, or your employer isn’t very supportive, here are some ways to create a pump friendly environment.

1) The Law is Your Friend: At the federal level, mothers are also protected but for just one year: “Section 7 of the FLSA requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.”

2) Design a Lactation Room: If you’re able to, design a lactation room for your company. You’ll want to include essentials like access to a sink, fridge for storage, cubbies to hold gear, a desk or table to hold laptops and pumps, comfortable chairs, wipes, and a community board. If you need a temporary space check out companies like Melk and Mamava.

3) Educate: If you’re one of the first moms who’s pumping, your boss and colleagues might just be unaware of all the benefits. Gently educating them on the health benefits of breastfeeding for babies and moms could go a long way toward acceptance.

I hope these tips help you as your prepare for your transition back to work. Pumping is certainly a commitment that takes time and dedication. Yet for many moms the satisfaction of providing breast milk for their babies while they are away at work is worth all the effort.

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For more information about Jennifer and Baby Caravan, click here.

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