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Did you know that, as recently as 2015, only about 40% of new moms reported being able to pump upon return to work? Isn’t that heartbreaking?
Ok, so I’m going to be honest with you.
I do not love pumping. Actually, I kind of hate it a little bit.
But I did it just about every business day until my son was 2 years and 2 weeks old.
Why? For the same reason that we do anything for our kids…it was in his best interest.
We fought long + hard to establish a solid breastfeeding relationship and we did it! And neither of us were ready to see it end any time before that.
In fact, we still nurse at home before weekend naps and at night even now at 28 months!
There a handful of things that helped me get started pumping and stay the course. I would like to share those with you in hopes that you will find this advice in some way useful.
This post is for you if you are considering pumping, have recently started + are frustrated or if you are curious about extended pumping.
1 | KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
You may know that my first nugget of breastfeeding advice is always to remove as many barriers as possible – big or small. Always keep that in mind.
As a nursing mother, you have rights and protections. Nobody is doing you a “favor” by “letting” you nurse or pump.
Your employer has an obligation to provide you with certain accommodations.
Reach out to Human Resources to find out what your employer’s policies and procedures are regarding break times for nursing moms. You will want to find out where you can go to pump, etc.
If anything they offer conflicts with federal or state law then you need to push back. Don’t just take what they say and accept it if it isn’t right.
And if you receive any pushback from your supervisor or are in any way harassed or made to feel guilty by coworkers then you need to reach out to HR immediately. Pumping is your right.
My Story: A coworker & I were pregnant at the same time, but she had her baby and came back to work before me. When I came back I found that she’d been fighting for access to the lactation room for months.
People were napping in there on breaks, conducting interviews and meetings, etc. It had become an all-purpose room for some reason. She had been told that the room could be used by anybody at any time because she didn’t need to pump there – she could just do it anywhere.
Of course, that got me all kinds of fired up when I returned. I immediately got HR involved and elicited support from other interested parties in my organization. And the issue was quickly resolved.
The problem here was that she did not know her rights, she didn’t know where to go for support, and she was dealing with other people who didn’t know the laws. So she suffered for months dealing with this.
2 | PACK
I’m working on a post about what you need in your pumping bag, but I’ll give you the scoop on the basics here for now:
- Tiny cooler + ice pack
- 4 bottles + caps
- Flanges 
- Tubes 
- Membranes 
- Cords + batteries
- Pump wipes
- Storage bag
- Breast pads
- Hands-free pumping bra
My Story: I went back to work 4 months postpartum and left my baby at home with his father for the first week. Then we introduced the nanny.
That very first day with the nanny I got halfway to work and realized that I had forgotten my tubing at home. I had to drive all the way back home [it’s far], sneak into the house without waking up the baby, and show my embarrassed face to our new nanny.
As moms, we always have WAY too much stuff running through our brains as we plan + prep everyone for everything. So please give yourself some grace, but be prepared because you will forget things sometimes. And that’s okay.
3 | PREPARE
Be prepared for anything, because we all know that motherhood is an exercise in surviving the unexpected!
Always have both your wall cord and a battery operated one [ with enough working batteries ] in case one dies on you. Or if you are forced to pump in some random place because of meetings, events, or a double booked lactation room.
I recommend keeping a cheap manual pump and at least one large bottle with cap in your office or car just in case you forget your pump or it malfunctions.
Keep a small box of breast pads in your desk just in case your scheduled pumping time is derailed by some work obligation. Better to be safe than sorry.
And always bring your little cooler and ice pack even if you have the use of a fridge. The fridge could die or something and you don’t want that liquid gold to spoil!
My Story: As I mentioned, I pumped for A.LONG.TIME. And things were going well. I had my routine down, I almost never forgot anything, and life was great.
Then one day I’m pumping away and my pump stopped. Yes, you read that right. It just stopped.
I had a mini heart attack! I was not really wanting to replace my pump when I’d already been pumping for over a year!
So I crossed my fingers and looked through my pumping bag to see if I still had my battery pack. And ta-da…I did! But did I have working batteries? Yes!
I held my breath and crossed my fingers in hopes that it was the cord and not the unit. And I was rewarded! It was just the cord that had conked out!
I found a cheap replacement on Amazon and just used the battery pack in the meantime. That is why you need to expect the unexpected and always be prepared!
4 | PUMPING MOTIVATION
It can be hard to stay motivated to stick to your schedule and pull yourself away from your desk, or whatever you are doing, to set everything up, hook yourself up, and sit there pumping for 20 minutes.
Then you have to put everything away, clean up, and get back to what you were doing.
That is a lot to do 3 or more times every day. And it throws off everything about your regular schedule.
So there are all the reasons in the world to justify giving up. But don’t.
Because there is one very important reason to keep going. Your baby.
Any time you are questioning your decision, just remind yourself of the benefits to the most important part of your world.
This Timeline of a Breastfed Baby is an awesome reference that you should bookmark and refer to often. It breaks down the benefits by age of the child and will solidify your resolve to nurse your baby as long as possible.
The key is to set yourself mini goals. And as you reach each one you need to celebrate and set a new one!
I also find that breastfeeding affirmations are very helpful with focus and motivation. This article from Julia at Newborn Mothers explains how this works and why it’s helpful.
And if all else fails, just remind yourself that this is just a short window of time in your life. A blip on your life’s radar. And it will be over sooner than later, so just power through it and be proud of yourself every day!
YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR
You can successfully pump at work for as long as you wish if you learn your rights, pack the necessities, prepare for the unexpected, and keep your motivation!
I pumped for more than two years and it’s something that I’m very proud of. I feel blessed to have had the support that I did and feel lucky to have been able to provide liquid gold to my little love as long as I have.
Breastfeeding is hard. Pumping is harder. But you will be so happy you did it!
Happy pumping mama – you are a rockstar!
If you are struggling with breastfeeding you might want to check out this awesome online lactation course called Milkology! Help like this can make all the difference in your breastfeeding relationship!
Don’t forget to check out all of my favorite things on my recommendations pages for the best things to make your life easier whether it’s parenting, budgeting, family living or blog related. Thanks again for visiting…I hope to see you again!!
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