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Breastfeeding (if one chooses to do so) is one of the biggest challenges of motherhood, but also one of its most rewarding aspects.
For full-time working mothers, especially new moms, pumping breast milk at the work site is a dreaded necessity. Pump breaks are essential in order to maintain milk supply while women are away from their babies (once maternity leave has ended). The first day back at work is particularly draining.
The good news is that, in most cases, employers are legally required to allow nursing moms reasonable break time to pump during work hours – in a private room other than a bathroom – for one year following delivery.
If Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – a federal law – applies to you, your right to express milk at work is protected under the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law. If you are an hourly employee, you are likely covered by FLSA. (You may want to confirm with your HR department that you are covered.)
I’m going to compose a step-by-step pumping plan for work!
TIMING / FREQUENCY
You will need to express breast milk – on average – at the same intervals (more or less) as you would normally breastfeed your baby. My first pumping session was usually between 9-10 a.m., the second was during the lunch break, and the third pump break was usually between 4-5 when I was wrapping up my work for the day. This pumping schedule is important for preserving your milk supply and milk production away from your baby.
LENGTH OF PUMPING TIME
This varies from woman to woman. Some (lucky!) women are able to pump quite quickly – in as much time as 10 minutes. For others, it takes extra time for the milk to flow and for their breasts to empty fully. Personally, it took me 30 minutes (including setup and cleanup) to pump each session. Of note, looking at photos of your baby while you pump can help in this regard.
If you do not have your own office, work places must provide a pumping space (not a bathroom!) to a breastfeeding employee if you are covered under FLSA (see above), and many have a dedicated lactation room.
A pumping bra (allowing mom to remain hands-free) is crucial in order to complete work tasks while breastfeeding. Multitasking is key! It will help you avoid that rising feeling of panic that comes from getting behind on work while pumping.
1) In the morning…it is a good idea to place each phalange (with attached parts) in a separate gallon size ziploc plastic bag. You will place these 2 plastic bags in your breast pump bag, along with a sharpie pen, breast milk bags, and your breast pump + cord.
2) When you are ready to pump…the first thing you need to do is attach each phalange to each breast via hands-free pumping bra.
4) When finished, you will need to pour the milk collected into the pre-sterilized milk bags stored in your pump bag; you will use the sharpie to label the time, date, and ounces of milk pumped.
5) Store milk in a refrigerator.
6) Clean pump parts (suggestions for this below).
7) Repeat at next pump.
8) When done for the day, take milk and pumping bag (containing pump parts) home, and immediately store milk in the freezer upon arrival. Make sure you have ice packs in the milk bag for the journey home (when your milk would be at room temperature).
9) Clean pump parts thoroughly with Dawn and water; allow to air dry on a paper towel or drying rack overnight.
This is probably one of the most trying aspects of pumping at work. For many, who have only a cubicle for their work space, finding a place to wash (and dry) breast pump parts is daunting. It takes time to wash pump parts, and finding a place to allow them to air dry can be difficult as well.
When I was pumping, I used to place my pump parts in a plastic bag in the refrigerator in between pumps in order to avoid washing pump parts between pump sessions. Although I did this successfully with no issues for both my children, the CDC now recommends washing between sessions regardless. Therefore, I do recommend washing the parts between sessions, per official health agency recommendations, in order to avoid bacterial contamination. The quickest way to do this is to employ special breast pump part cleaning wipes (more on this below, in my “Recommended Products” section).
1) Baby Buddha Breast Pump – I used Spectra for pumping with my first baby since it’s one of the pumps which most insurance plans cover. With my second child, however, I used the Baby Buddha Breast Pump. It was a complete game changer – it helps with portability, milk output, and increasing supply. Plus, it is a hands-free pump and, when paired with a pumping bra, a wearable pump! I was able to dramatically increase my pumping output at work with this pump! Plus, the pump itself is the size of an iPhone and hangs around your neck with a strap. It is not covered by insurance, but it is worth every penny! It is – far and away – the best breast pump. (Often times, you get what you pay for, and this is certainly the case here!) Although this pump is listed at $249.99 on the website, it is often on sale for $189.99. You can get a 10% discount when purchasing this pump at the website with this code – MAKEUPDIVA10. Please read my full review here.
2) Hands Free Pumping Bra – As stated above, a hands-free pumping bra is a must-have for pumping at work. It allows multitasking in a way which is impossible otherwise. I personally used the hands-free pumping bra from Motherhood Maternity (featured below).
3) Cleaning Wipes – Obviously, cleaning with Dawn and water is ideal, but, if time and space are lacking, these quick cleaning wipes from Medela are a Godsend! I also love cleaning baby toys with this as well.
4) Breast Milk Bags – These milk bags from Lansinoh are iconic, and for good reason. They rarely leak or burst, and they are easy to use. It’s not recommended to store more than 180 mL of milk in these bags.
5) Pump Bag – Having a good pump bag is essential. It allows you to store your pump and parts, as well as accessories such as breast milk bags and “the sharpie.” I used this one below, and it served me well.
6) Milk Storage Bags – While some pump bags (such as above), do contain a compartment for breast milk, some don’t (in which case you will need to find one such as below).
Hope this was helpful and that you found some great ideas! If you need additional information for your pumping needs, I recommend that you consult a certified lactation counselor.