Being a working mom is hard! Being a working mom and pumping is beyond difficult! Besides all your day-to-day tasks you are responsible for at work, throw in pumping.
After I went back to work after having my first baby, it took me a while to get in the swing of things, and feel comfortable with my new routine. Putting it lightly, it was tough. Pumping is tricky, you do not in any way want to mess with your supply, and so many things can affect it. You get busy and skip a session, you are stressed with projects/deadlines, and you may have difficulties finding a private space. So for that reason, I want to give you some tips that helped me be successful in my pumping journey.
Have a Plan
It’s important to talk with your HR representative and find out exactly what they can offer you. Legally, they must provide basic accommodation for you, such as time and space to comfortably pump. This passed in 2010 as the Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act. I know that this can vary drastically, depending on your occupation. Personally, I worked in an office and I had the privacy I needed. I made it cozy by bringing a blanket, a phone, and a computer to listen to music/audiobooks. Make the most of the space provided for you.
Stick to a Schedule
It is absolutely critical to stick to a schedule! Just before leaving for work, you should nurse your baby. From there, plan to pump at least every 3-4 hours while you are away and again nurse as soon as you get home.
Realistically, given your schedule and the tasks you must complete, it may not be feasible to get each pump session perfectly on time. Fortunately, as long as you get the amount of sessions in per day, separated by enough hours to adequately replenish your supply, you should be fine. Just try to avoid skipping sessions completely.
I recall a few times I skipped sessions completely and definitely noticed my supply taking a hit. That is when my paranoid self would make my husband go to the store at 7 a.m. to buy all the ingredients to make lactation cookies while I sat at home power pumping. Do yourself a favor and stick to your routine!
If you’re like me, the term “mom brain” is a real thing. I can’t tell you how many times I would have to turn around and go back home to pick up my pump. On a few occasions where that wasn’t possible, I would suffer and be engorged to the point I had to hand express in the bathroom sink so my breasts wouldn’t explode.
So you don't follow in my footsteps--make sure to have everything ready the night before and you can easily grab it while walking out the door. Always make sure you have clean attachments for your pump, a power cord, storage bags/ bottles, cleaning supplies, and means to keep your breast milk cold. If your place of employment doesn't have a fridge on site, make sure to have a small cooler with frozen cold packs. You will be hauling a lot of stuff back and forth but this ensures you are always prepared.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you struggle, just be sure to take care of yourself. After a while, you will find your own groove and have the whole pumping thing down! You are a rockstar! Leaving your sweet babe to go to work is hard and pumping makes it even harder. Best of luck to you in your pumping journey!