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Smart Breastfeeding Strategies for the Working Mom

Get ready for pumping on the job as early as one month before you go back to work—you'll be glad you did.


Successfully handle pumping at work with these essential tips.

By Veronica Horner, Working Mother

Get ready for pumping on the job as early as one month before you go back to work—you'll be glad you did.

It's no secret that breastfeeding while working adds another dimension to the challenge of nursing. We could go into all the benefits of breastfeeding for your baby and you, but you're probably already acutely aware of them—so we’ll cut to the pumping chase. These tips and tricks are based on interviews held with some amazing women in demanding jobs who bring home the bacon and the milk!

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

As in most things in life, the more you can do to prepare beforehand the easier it will be. Preparations can start as early as one month before you go back to work. Here is a basic list of things to do:

1 month before: Start to sort out your childcare arrangements for while you're at work. Finding the right fit can take a while, so avoid the additional stress and start early.

3 weeks before: Start building your milk supply. It can take a while to produce that extra milk, so plan in those extra pumping sessions early and don’t be discouraged if the first couple of sessions aren’t successful. Your body needs some time to get in the flow :)

2 weeks before: Make sure your baby is comfortable with a bottle. The last thing you want to worry about while you're at work is that your baby isn’t eating.

1 week before: Test it out. Run a trial day to make sure you have a good routine to get to work on time and that your baby is comfortable with the new childcare arrangements.

2. Talk to your employer.

It’s helpful to get your boss on board ahead of time about your plans to pump at work. Hopefully, your company is already well equipped for the nursing mom, but if it isn’t, knowing beforehand can help get things in order. Also, it helps for management to understand how important this is for you and your baby's health. This isn’t and shouldn’t be viewed as a “perk” of the job, but rather a requirement. Setting that tone early can help to avoid issues in the future.


3. Strategize your breastfeeding sessions.

Get in as many breastfeeding sessions with your baby as possible. Unfortunately, no pump is as efficient as your baby, and long term pumping can have a negative effect on your milk supply. Try to nurse before you leave for the day and as soon as you get home to keep that milk supply up. Pushing for telecommuting options or on-site daycare are good options as well.

4. Plan your pumping time at work.

It’s recommended that you pump every three hours to maintain your milk supply. Block off your calendar for pumping times, and try to make it consistent. There are certain work tasks that are more conducive to pumping, like answering email. Save those tasks for pumping sessions to be most productive. One fellow working mom used to get her team to help too, by making sure they were aware of her pumping times and having them send/print any documents in advance so she could tackle them during this time.

5. Get the right equipment.

We all want to spend the least amount of time in that lactation room, so make it as easy as possible by getting the right equipment. This can also make a big difference in keeping your motivation up. A good, strong pump is a must. Pumping bras with padding are also great for hands-free nursing and the least amount of wardrobe changes. And finally, make sure you are wearing nursing-friendly clothing.

6. Take care of yourself.

Adding pumping to the mix of work, in addition to the stress of being a new mom, can be overwhelming. Suddenly there's a lot less time for work. But resist the instinct to cut yourself short. You still need to drink lots of water and eat a good lunch. And don’t forget some snacks, because that breastfeeding appetite is strong for a reason. In the grand scheme of things, the time you'll be pumping at work is quite short. If it means you need to take it a little easier than usual and be kind to yourself, so be it.


7. Leave the guilt trip at home!

Guilt for being at home, guilt for being at work, we all feel it. But we need to take a step back and know we're doing the best we can. No solution is perfect, but you evaluated the benefits and drawbacks of each one and made the decision that was best for you and your family. So embrace that choice and make the most of your time at home and your time at work. I suggest you take a cue from my husband: When our son Henry cries before he has to go to work, instead of feeling guilty, he instead feels happy that his son loves him that much.

See more at: Working Mother

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Women's Magazine: Smart Breastfeeding Strategies for the Working Mom
Smart Breastfeeding Strategies for the Working Mom
Get ready for pumping on the job as early as one month before you go back to work—you'll be glad you did.
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