Pumping breast milk is complicated enough on its own. Add in pumping at work, and it can become very stressful! Between finding privacy, storing your milk, and keeping your pump and accessories clean, you might feel like your head is spinning just from thinking about it.
Thankfully, you have some help. In this article, you’ll find the best tips and tricks for pumping at work. As someone who pumped at work for almost one year, I know that these suggestions are tried and true!
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How To Prepare For Pumping At Work
In addition to stocking up on all of the pumping essentials, here are more ways to prepare for pumping at work:
Have An Excellent Breast Pump
Finding the perfect breast pump is the most critical part when preparing to pump at work. Having the right pump will not only make your time spent pumping easier, but it will also make your time more efficient!
When searching for the right pump for you, there are three main points to consider. You will want to make sure the pump is:
When pumping out of the house, you will need a portable pump. Many pumps come with a battery pack that you can use if you don’t have access to an electric outlet.
Another essential aspect you need to look for in a breast pump is that it’s efficient. When you have somewhat limited time to pump, you will want to make sure that the pump you choose gets the job done reasonably.
When looking for an efficient pump, you will want to see that the pump has enough power. An adjustable power knob is a beautiful feature to have!
Also, you will want to make sure that the breast pump allows you to pump both sides at once. Pumping both sides at the same time saves you a significant amount of time!
Lastly, the pump you choose should be somewhat quiet. Not only is it more relaxing for you, but if you have an office and decide to pump while you work, it won’t be as distracting.
In addition to the points above, you will want to make sure your breast pump is budget-friendly. Most health insurance will cover the cost of a breast pump, so make sure to call your insurance first!
If your insurance doesn’t cover a pump, you will want to make sure the cost is within your budget.
Find A Spacious Pump Bag
Especially when working full-time, you will need a large bag to carry everything you need. Many breast pumps come with a tote bag that the pump fits into. The pump that I chose came with a tote bag, and I was able to fit everything I needed in there.
If your breast pump doesn’t come with a bag, these tote bags are an excellent option!
Carry Extra Parts With You
An imperative part of being prepared for pumping at work is being ready for anything that comes your way. That’s why it’s so essential to carry extra pump parts with you every day! I always carried extra valves, membranes, and tubing with me.
There is nothing worse than getting ready to pump at work and finding that your tubing has a hole in it! Or maybe you accidentally forgot a single pump part on your kitchen counter. (Trust me, it’s TERRIBLE!)
You can think of carrying extra pump parts as a sort of insurance. You might not ever need them, but if you do, you have them!
Don’t Forget Extra Bottles!
Similar to carrying extra pump parts, you will also want to have extra milk bottles with you.
In addition to possibly forgetting bottles at home, there could also be times when you pump more milk than average and need to use an extra bottle.
Don’t Skip Nursing Pads
Another item that’s always nice to have extras of is nursing pads. Especially in the beginning of nursing/pumping, you can unexpectedly leak a lot. You might have to change out nursing pads frequently, and you won’t want to run out!
Scheduling Out Pumping Times At Work
Once you start pumping at work, one of the first things you should figure out is how many times you will need to pump. The general rule of thumb is to pump every time your baby would normally breastfeed.
After you figure out how many feedings you would miss during each day at work, it’s a good idea to take a look at your typical day. Try to make a regular pumping schedule that you can follow pretty consistently.
When making your pumping schedule, some great things to keep in mind are any recurring meetings you have throughout the week. Also, think about any times where your work is slow, making it the perfect time for a pump break!
When you have a pumping schedule that you think will work for you, it can be beneficial to block out those times on your work calendar or set reminders on your phone. Using reminders will help you not lose track of time.
And finally, make sure you don’t go too long between pumping sessions! Your body needs to stay in the rhythm your breastfeeding baby has set so your milk production doesn’t go down.
Tips For Pumping At Work Success
Start Pumping Before Returning To Work
It takes a little time to get used to breastfeeding, right? The same goes for pumping!
When you start pumping, you need to learn how to assemble your pump and clean it. You need to make sure your flanges fit correctly and also what speed setting works best for you.
Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get the hang of everything. I started pumping once a day, a few weeks before going back to work. That was more than enough time for me to get used to pumping.
Keep in mind; you might have to adjust the timeframe you start pumping if you want to build a large freezer stash of milk.
Find A Private Spot
Privacy is essential while pumping at work, and no, privacy does not mean pumping in the restroom!
Your workplace is required to supply you with a private room that is not the restroom for up to the first year. If you don’t have an office to pump in, talk to your supervisor as soon as possible to ensure that you will have a pumping space.
Just keep in mind that you might not have a glamorous pumping room. My pumping room at work was a dark, less-than-desirable room in the back of the basement. If that’s the case for you, try your best to make it work!
Another great thing to have when pumping at work is a sign to hang outside the door. (Check out these free printable pumping in progress signs!) Your door should preferably have a lock, but putting a sign out helps to prevent any distractions.
Try To Relax
Breastfeeding goes a lot more smoothly when you are relaxed, but relaxation might be a lot harder while at work!
It’s imperative to have something to put your mind at ease while pumping. Whether reading a book or watching something on your phone, you will find a noticeable difference in pumping while you’re relaxed.
Another thing that many moms do is look at pictures or videos of their baby while pumping. Not only does this help with your letdown, but it can help to lighten your mental load.
Have Water And Snacks Ready
You probably already know that water is crucial while breastfeeding, so be sure you have your water bottle filled up before pumping.
Snacks are also a must-have while breastfeeding and pumping, so make sure you have plenty of snacks to help you get through the day energized.
I would always bring granola bars, trail mix, fruits and veggies, or greek yogurt to work each day.
Pump Until Empty
Emptying your breasts at each pumping session will help prevent any uncomfortable engorgement and signal your body to keep producing more milk.
You will know your breasts have been emptied because they will feel soft, and you will notice significantly less or no milk going into the bottle.
Talk To Your Coworkers
Having someone to talk to while breastfeeding can be so helpful. If you have some coworkers that you trust, try talking to them!
You will find that most ladies have some sort of experience with breastfeeding, and it can be nice to know that someone else has been where you are.
Having a support system at work can also be helpful if you need some encouragement. There will be days when you are exhausted and want to skip pumping altogether. It will be nice to have someone to keep you on track.
Also, if your coworkers have pumped at work in the past, they might have some advice to share with you!
How To Clean Your Breast Pump At Work
Cleaning my pump at work brought me a lot of stress. I wanted to make sure I cleaned everything correctly, but I couldn’t use the same cleaning supplies as at home. Also, my options for using a sink were in the bathroom or a high-traffic kitchen.
As silly as it might sound, I was worried about any judgment from others, mainly male coworkers, while I cleaned all of my pump parts and prepped my milk for storage.
Looking back, I can confidently tell you that there is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about!
Pumping or breastfeeding is an excellent, natural thing that you are doing for your child, so try to let any awkwardness or judgment roll off your shoulders!
Now, onto the ways to clean your breast pump at work!
Clean Sink Or Dishwasher
Cleaning your pump parts in a cleaned sink or dishwasher are both great ways to consider, but they also take the most time. Also, if you’re like me and the kitchen at your work is a popular place to be, you might not be able to try up the sink for too long.
Use Fresh Pump Parts At Each Session
Using new pump parts at each session is the cleaning method that I used, and it worked very well!
What you will do is bring multiple sets of parts with you, and after each session, you will rinse your pump parts in the sink and place them in a ziplock bag. Then, you can thoroughly clean them with your preferred method after you get home.
Then, repeat the process for each pumping session throughout the day. I typically pumped only twice on an eight-hour shift, so I didn’t have to bring an overwhelming amount of pump parts with me every day.
Cleaning Wipes Or Steam Bags
When using both of these products, you should still rinse your pump parts in cold water first. If you choose to use the steam bags, the packaging recommends you still clean your pump parts in soapy water first, so if you cannot use a sink, this might not work for you.
Storing Pumped Breast Milk At Work
Storing breast milk isn’t as difficult as it may seem; you have a few options! Before we get into your different storage options, let’s talk about how long your breast milk lasts.
Breast milk can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 hours, in the fridge for up to 4 days, and the freezer for about 6 months.According to the CDC
With that being said, here are the best ways to store pumped breast milk at work:
In The Fridge
Storing your pumped breast milk in the fridge is the best option while at work. Using the community fridge can come with its downsides, though. You run the possible risk of someone accidentally using it, spilling it, or emptying it in the sink during a fridge cleaning.
If you choose to store your pumped milk in the community work fridge, make sure you clearly label the bottles!
Also, if you have an office or workspace, this personal mini-fridge is terrific if you want personal storage! It fits pumping bottles nicely, plus you can use it for snacks too. 😉
Cooler With Ice Packs
If using a fridge is out of the question, the other option is to use a cooler with ice packs. I used this one from Medela, and it worked like a charm.
If you choose to use a cooler, make sure you buy an extra ice pack! Having a second ice pack will ensure that you won’t wake up in the morning to realize you forgot to put it in the freezer the night before!
Know Your Rights
The last thing we are going to talk about is your pumping rights at work. If you are unsure about the breast-pumping laws in your state, your hospital will know! See if they offer a breastfeeding support group; they will often have printouts about pumping laws and will be able to give you more information.
Another option you can try is to talk to your workplace’s HR representative. They should also have some insight for you.
Once you know your rights, don’t let your workplace push you around. You deserve privacy, respect, and enough time to pump!
And there you have it! Remember, you got this! It can be easy to get discouraged while pumping at work, but it will get easier for you in time.
Before you go, check out these related articles:
- Must-Have Items For Breastfeeding
- The Best Breastfeeding Tips For The First Year
- How Dads Can Help Breastfeeding Moms
What are your biggest concerns about pumping at work? If you’re a mom who’s been there, done that, how was your experience with pumping at work? I would love to know in the comments below!