Many women often feel the need to give up breastfeeding once they have to return to the workplace. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends women breastfeed for at least the first 12 months of a baby’s life. This can be extremely difficult when you have to return to work but with careful planning, you can pump enough breastmilk at work to meet all of your baby’s needs for the first year of life. Pumping as a working mom is possible!
Being a working mom is full of challenges! One of the biggest challenges, aside from being away from your little one all day, is the difficulty of pumping at work. Here are 5 Pumping Essentials to ease the difficulty of pumping at work.
Sidenote, sometimes when mom’s first start pumping at work you might experience a dip in breastmilk production. Don’t worry you’re body should catch up to the demand. If you are still concerned check out my post on increasing Milk Supply here.
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Pumping Essential #1 Hospital Grade Pump with all parts (including spare parts)
If you have health insurance you should qualify to receive a breast pump for free! If you do not have insurance you can try checking with your local hospital or La Leche League about renting one.
When packing your bag for work do not forget all of the pieces to your pump! There is nothing worse than getting to work and realizing you have forgotten something!
Don’t forget the collection bottles, tubing, flanges, connectors, valves, and the pump itself! You should also put into your bag a rag that you can use to clean your breast after each session. If you don’t have time to wash your pump after each pumping session you can put the parts into a large Ziploc bag and keep it in the refrigerator. Make sure to carefully wash the parts each evening.
Pumping Essential #2 Milk Storage
Before returning to work spend some time thinking about how you want to store your breastmilk after you have pumped it. I preferred to pour all collected breastmilk into a large mason jar over the course of the workday. When I got home in the evening I would then partition the milk out into either Breastmilk storage bags or leave it in the large mason jar to give to my daughter’s caregiver. I also really like these Milkies Milk Trays for freezing milk. It all depended on who would be taking care of my daughter the next day and how much milk I had actually pumped.
Some daycares prefer breastmilk to be in pre-proportioned breastmilk storage bag labeled with the date, child’s name and amount of breastmilk. Other caregivers might be okay with a mason jar filled with the previous day’s milk. Some might even prefer for the milk to be already filled in the number of bottles the baby is expected to drink for the day. Check with your baby’s caregiver to decide which storage solution is right for you.
My personal preference was to have the large mason jar filled with pumped milk from the previous day. I felt that this was more environmentally friendly than all the breastmilk bags. It also ensured that my daughter was getting the freshest breastmilk possible.
Pumping Essential #3 Cooler/ Fridge
You need a place to store all that liquid gold you have been working so hard to pump. Ideally, you have a fridge close by that you can store your breastmilk in. I was lucky enough to have a minifridge in my classroom that I could plop my pumped milk and parts into at the end of each pumping session.
If this isn’t an option for you a cooler filled with ice packs will work too! Check out this cool breastmilk storage cooler on Amazon!
Pumping Essential #4 Pumping Bra, nursing pads, extra shirt
A hands-free pumping bra is especially helpful when pumping at work. Since I am a teacher I needed to pump during lunch and recess. This was also the time I was shoveling food in my face. This bra made it much easier to pump and eat at the same time. I also really liked it because it clips onto your regular nursing bra. I preferred this to having separate pumping bras and nursing bras.
You are also going to want to have nursing pads for between pumping session. When I went back to work I leaked. A LOT. I went through a few nursing pads a day in the beginning. Then my body got used to my pumping schedule and I didn’t go through nearly as many. Making sure to have nursing pads will help prevent embarrassing leakage at work.
In the instance that you do have a leaking incident at work its helpful to have an extra shirt and bra with you so that you can quickly change clothes instead of walking around the rest of the day with those embarrassing wet marks.
Pumping Essential #5 Plenty of Water and Snacks
According to KellyMom.com lactating mothers should be drinking an average of 13 cups or about 100 oz of water a day. That’s a lot of water!
In order to increase your water intake, you can try a few things. Enjoy a large glass of water first thing in the morning. Sip water anytime you are pumping. Drink a glass of water before every meal
Bonus tip: Try drinking Chia Water which will not only hydrate you but will also give you essential vitamins and minerals.
To make Chia Water simply mix 2 tablespoons of chia seeds with 8oz of water in a lidded jar, shake and let sit for 10-15 minutes. The texture will be similar to runny tapioca pudding. It’s not the most enjoyable flavor but it does wonders for your hydration level and has 40% of a woman’s recommended daily fiber. Talk about a win-win.
Breastfeeding mothers burn an extra 300-500 calories a day. Keep your energy up with healthy snacks like veggies and hummus, yogurt and fruit or whip up a batch of lactation cookies.
Bonus: A cute bag to store all the thing!
As I mentioned above pumping requires so many little items. Halfway through my first week back at work, I determined that the dinky bag that came with my pump was just not going to cut it. I didn’t want to be lugging ten thousand separate bags to work each day. Then I found this bag, it is GIGANTIC! I love it! I can fit my snacks, my water bottle, all my pump parts, my cooler, my sweater, and tons more! To be honest, I really wrestled with all the really cute, way more expensive bags that you can find on Amazon and finally decided to just stick with this one. I’m glad I did. It works perfectly!