Headed back to work soon? Or maybe you’re already back, and you’re struggling? Here are 7 ways to make pumping at work easier!
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1. Have an extra set of everything at work for when you forget it.
There is nothing worse than the sinking feeling of getting to work and realizing that your breast shields are sitting on your drying rack at home instead of in your pump bag.
Having a backup of everything you need to pump at your office gives you both peace of mind and the convenience of not having to run home when you realize something’s missing. Try keeping extras of the following at work (or in your car, if you drive to work):
- Breast shields or Pumpin Pals
- Pump parts (connector, valve, etc.)
- Bottles to pump into (with caps to store the milk)
- An extra charger or battery pack (depending on your pump)
- Anything else you use regularly to pump (breast pads, breast milk freezer bags, etc.)
Here’s what can happen when you forget your bottles:
2. Wash your pump parts once.
In the past, I’d recommended putting your pump parts in a ziploc bag or Pumparoo and putting them in the fridge between pumping sessions; that’s what I did.
However, the CDC recently issued new guidelines for washing pump parts and did not list this as an option. If you want to follow these guidelines, one way to handle it is to have any many sets of pump parts at work as you have pumping sessions at work. Then you can wash them all in one batch, which will be much easier than doing it after every session.
3. Stick to your pumping at work schedule, but be flexible.
That sounds like contradictory advice, I know, but hear me out.
Say that you pump three times during the work day, at 9am, 12pm, and 3pm, each for 20 minutes. Then you find out that your boss has scheduled you to attend a meeting at noon, and you can’t miss it.
What do you do? Go to your meeting (and wear breast pads just in case – I had an unfortunate experience with this) but then you make sure that you get 20 minutes of pumping in somewhere else that day. As long as you get the same amount of minutes that you normally get, you should be okay.
In short, do what you need to do to get your job done, but get your pumps in around it!
Not sure how often you should pump at work? More on pumping at work schedules here.
4. Have a strategy for “sneaking” in pumping sessions.
If you have a job that makes pumping inconvenient (like teachers, servers, and flight attendants), it can be really difficult to stick to a schedule at work.
And even if you normally are able to pump at work without issues, sometimes situations (maybe you have a job interview, or have to travel) can come up that make it difficult to pump when you need to.
One way to handle this is to come up with a strategy to “sneak” in a quick pumping session. For example, you can keep a small manual pump in your bag (like this one), run to the lactation room or restroom for five minutes, and pump as much as you can. (This one works well if you have a long day of interviews, or if you only get short breaks from work.)
5. If you drive to work, consider pumping during your commute.
If you commute to and from work in a car, and your commute is longer than 10 minutes or so, you may be get a pumping session session in on your way to and/or from work.
If you decide to try this, please remember that safety is the most important thing. Do not pump and drive if you don’t have a hands-free setup, won’t be able to resist checking the bottles while you drive, or will be distracted by your pump. Additionally, you should consider the risk of the airbag deploying while you’re pumping.
Depending on your pump, you may need a battery pack – more on what kind to get here.
You can read a complete how-to on pumping and driving here!
6. Consider getting a second pump to leave at work.
Packing your pump up and hauling it to work every day on top of everything else you might need (laptop bag, purse, daycare bag) is time-consuming and is just one more thing that you have to juggle as a working mom.
If you’re exclusively pumping or if you’re nursing and use your pump at home as well, having one pump for home and one for work can make life a lot easier – especially if you don’t drive to work and you commute via mass transit, biking, or walking.
If you can, see if you can buy a second pump to leave at work. The high price point of good breast pumps can make this challenging, but there are some lower cost options that might work.
7. Try not to stress out about pumping enough.
I know this is easier said than done, but do the best you can.
You might find it helpful to cover the bottles while you pump so you can’t see them and stress out. Some moms wear a nursing cover while they pump, or you can cover the bottles with baby socks so you can’t see your output.
Here are some things to troubleshoot if you aren’t pumping enough at work. Also, remember that it’s okay to supplement with formula. Your worth isn’t measured in ounces, and you are doing a great job.
What are your best tips for pumping and working? Share them below in the comments!