Breast Pumping & Returning to work
Many mothers now return to work and continue to give their baby breast milk. When you return to work, you may decide to pump your breasts. You will need to make a breast pumping schedule. Talk to your employer and answer the following questions:
• How often can you pump your breasts? At what times?
• Where can you pump? Will this area have electricity and privacy?
• What changes might have to be made in your work schedule to allow you to pump your breasts?
Whenever you are with your baby, you can still breastfeed, if you chose. When you’re at work, your baby’s caregiver can use a bottle to feed your baby the breast milk you pump.
What you need to pump your breasts at work
• Breast pump, plus electrical adapter if needed. Extra batteries if you are using a battery-powered pump.
• A small cooler, plus ice, if a refrigerator is not available for storing your milk at work. If you forget the cooler, breast milk can be stored at room temperature for 4 to 8 hours.
• Enough milk storage containers for the number of pumping sessions you will need during your workday.
• An extra shirt, sweater or vest to wear in case your breasts leak. It is a good idea to wear shirts with patterns on them because milk is harder to see on patterned material.
• Clothing that makes it easy to get to your breasts. Your clothing should open in the front.
• A shawl or small blanket for privacy if you need to pump in a common area.
• A water bottle and healthy snacks. Women who are breastfeeding need extra calories.
• A pillow for supporting your arm while you pump your breasts. This may make pumping more comfortable.
• A “do not disturb” sign if you are pumping in a shared space.
Here are some extra options
• A portable radio or tape or CD player (plus your favorite music), an entertaining book or a magazine. If you are relaxed, your breasts will release milk more easily (the “let-down reflex”) and you will be able to pump your breasts better.
• A picture of your baby or an item of your baby’s clothing. Thinking about your baby can stimulate the let-down reflex.
Where can I pump when I’m at work?
A “pumping room” (also called a “lactation room”) can be created in any area that provides privacy. The area should contain a chair and working electrical outlets. A sink is helpful for cleaning up after you pump your breasts. If your workplace has a refrigerator, you can use it to store your breast milk. Otherwise, you could bring a small cooler with ice and use that to store the breast milk.
Who can I talk to when I have questions about breast pumping and working?
Talk to your doctor, a friend or family member who has breast pumped, many women now breast pump. Of course, you can always call or email Toni at GotBreastPump.com for free lactation support.