Breast pumping Tips for Mothers Returning To Work
As we all know, life is starting to get back to normal, and kids will return to school in September. For some moms, this post-quarantine life will resemble what it looked like pre-pandemic—the hustle of dropping kids off before you start your workday and then some. But when you are a breast-pumping mom, you have to schedule pumping into your work schedule. If you have pumped at work before, you know that there can be challenges. Many moms, including myself, have a story or two on pumping at work. It’s comedy at its best( when you can laugh about it).
Returning to the office will be an adjustment for parents everywhere, and it will be a massive adjustment for breast-pumping moms. Frankly, breast pumping in itself is challenging; this counts for both mothers pumping while working remotely or in the office.
We touched base with lactation expert Ashley Georgakopoulos, IBCLC, and Motif Medical Lactation Director, who shared her tips for moms on pumping at the office and how to incorporate it into your workday.
As mothers return to the office, what should a Breast Pumping mother keep in mind if planning to pump at work?
The biggest thing to plan for is having a conversation with the employer, where applicable, to discuss not only the timing of breaks and intervals to incorporate pumping into the schedule but also where a clean, quiet place would be to pump. Other things to think about are how to store the milk, do you need a cooler or do you have access to a refrigerator? And finally, remember that what you pump does not necessarily equal what your actual supply is and until mothers get comfortable with pumping and responsive to pumping, sometimes it can be difficult to pump out what you need right away. Find a way to make the space your own and implement as many comfort measures as possible to relax your body and respond well to the pump.
The pandemic presented remote work to many, and some mothers are planning to keep working remotely. As we know, remote life means we are home; how can a breast-pumping mom incorporate pumping at home and assure it is considered part of her workday?
Break up break times into 15 to 20-minute intervals every 2-3 hours. Hands-free pumping may also be a great tool to implement, using a bra that supports that or making your own by cutting out holes in a sports bra just big enough for the smaller end of the funnel on the flange to fit through. This allows for pumping as often as needed while keeping your hands free to get your work done or enjoying your morning coffee.
Advice on setting a pumping schedule?
Try to replicate the frequency of how often the baby would eat if eating directly from the breast. This is usually, on average, every 2 to 3 hours, not longer, as we sometimes see in bottle-feeding. Frequency is a priority to not only maintain supply but to not put pressure on the mother to pump out more than 4 ounces a session. It’s much easier to pump out 2 1/2 to 3 ounces per pumping session, and done so frequently will easily equate to the total amount needed to leave for baby!
How can a new mom build a milk stash, and why should she?
The easiest way to build a milk stash is to start a couple of weeks before returning to work or before when the stash is needed, incorporating one to two additional pumping sessions a day, preferably in the morning where you have more volume to work with. You do not need a freezer stash full to have a healthy stash to rely on. This stash will help be a buffer for one first returning to work and for any deficits. Keep in mind; you will still be pumping throughout the day at work.
Psst… check out these Traveling with COVID-19 Unvaccinated Kids-An Expert Shares Tips.