Returning to work after having a baby isn’t easy. The decision to go back may be weighing heavily on you. Or you may be counting down the days until you have some adult interaction again and a hot lunch to enjoy. No matter how you may feel about the transition, if you are breastfeeding it can be a challenge.
That black bag containing your tit torture device (ok, breast pump) will be attached to your hip for the foreseeable future. And there’s a lot that goes in to being a breastfeeding working mom. It takes dedication, grace, and some luck to manage it.
Here are 5 tips to pump like a boss at work!
1. Know your rights
It may be a good idea to have a discussion with your employer about your rights as a breastfeeding mom before you leave to have your baby. The Break Time For Nursing Mothers law, passed in 2010, requires U.S. employers to provide a private place (that is not a bathroom) for a mother to pump breast milk during the day, for one year after the child’s birth. The law also requires providing moms with reasonable pumping time, recognizing that each mom pumps at a different pace and times may vary. The law does not require these breaks to be paid unless you are utilizing any paid breaks you already had during your day. This law covers nonexempt (hourly) employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Currently, salaried employees are not covered under this law but the Supporting Working Moms Act is hoping to expand the coverage. Your individual state may also have laws that cover you if you are a salaried employee. It’s always good to know your rights before coming back so everyone is on the same page and you feel comfortable pumping at work.
2. Location, Location, Location
As they say, location is everything. If you can, become familiar with the area you will be pumping in when you return to work. The type of room that employers dedicate to breastfeeding moms vary greatly. Some are amazing and pay special attention to the needs of working moms by providing a serene getaway. Others are pretty much a closet. Some places will have sinks readily available to wash your pumping parts out, others won’t. Some will have fridges to store your milk, other’s won’t. Getting to know the space you will be pumping in will help you figure out what you need to bring with you for your pumping sessions.
3. Meeting reminder: Pump, Pump, Pump it up
Can we just agree that numero uno on your list of things to avoid as a breastfeeding mom is engorged ta-tas? Nothing is more painful than the pulsing heat of rage that your boobs emit when you miss a feeding or pumping session. And it’s easy to forget to pump once you get back in the swing of work. To avoid the pain (and tears) set a calendar reminder at the right intervals so you remember to pump during your work day.
4. Double bag it
You’ve heard the term “liquid gold” in reference to pumped milk, right? That’s because you’ve worked your ASS off to express that boob juice and you don’t want to see a single drop go to waste.
Whether you store your expressed milk in bottles or bags while at work, ALWAYS put them in an extra ziploc bag during the day. No matter how well you seal the bottle or bag, inevitably you will get home one day and find that the breast milk spilled in the bottom of your cooler. And you will cry. And moms everywhere will hear your tears and share your pain. Double bagging will ensure you have a back up plan.
5. Have boobs, will travel
Depending on the type of job you have, you may be required to travel while you are still breastfeeding. This presents a whole new set of challenges. One is finding a clean place to pump on the go. Airports are starting to implement dedicated pumping locations, like the lactation suites made by Mamava.
Mamava is a company that has created freestanding pods that can be placed in high traffic areas. Moms can take advantage of these suites at airports, convention centers, large events, universities, zoos, museums, and community centers.
They have an app you can download that shows all of their suite locations to see if one is near where you will be. These pods come equipped with an AC and USB power outlet so not only can you power your pump but you can charge your phone too! Perfect for when you travel for work.
It doesn’t matter if you pump for one year, or one day, you are a bad ass mom for taking on the pumping-at-work challenge!
Andrea Rhoades is the creator of Selfies to Selfless, a site for new(ish) moms. She is on a mission to empower the newest generation of parents by exploring the unique challenges they face. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram!