If you’re planning to pump breastmilk at work, a little advance preparation goes a long way. Here are our top tips for pumping at work and on the go.
Collect Your Supplies
Here’s a list of common items you may need to get started:
- A breast pump.
- Some women prefer battery-operated so they have more freedom in where they pump, versus being limited to locations with an outlet. Some breast pumps have both a plug-in and an on-the-go option.
- Consider getting a second pump so you can keep one at work and cut down how much you’re hauling back and forth every day.
- Milk storage bags or collection bottles for your expressed milk.
- A nursing bra or specialized hands-free pumping bra.
- Cooler/lunch bag, so you can keep your expressed milk and pump parts in a refrigerator.
- Nursing pads and a spare shirt—just in case.
- Microwave sanitizing bags for your pump parts, if you’re unable to keep them in a refrigerator.
- Photos and videos of your baby! This may help your milk to let down more easily. Most importantly, try to make your pumping time relaxing and enjoyable. Bring a book, load up a favorite video or break out the coloring book and colored pencils. Make this YOUR time.
- Don’t forget water and healthy, calorically appropriate food for yourself too—you can’t express milk if you’re not meeting your own health needs.
- A bag/backpack/pack mule— anything that helps you to keep organized and know that you have everything you need. We recommend putting your bag together the night before and making sure you have everything you need for a successful day of pumping.
Let’s Talk Flanges!
Your breast pump will come with several standard parts, and the flange, or shield, is the part that goes around your nipple to gently pull the milk out. If your pump only comes with one size of flange, you may not even realize that there are other sizes available! Using an incorrect flange size for your body may result in discomfort, pain, and reduced amounts of expressed milk. Your breast pump manufacturer may sell different sizes flanges, so we recommend measuring yourself to find the correct size for your body, or trying a few sizes to determine what works best for you.
Find Your Schedule
If you have a typical breastfeeding schedule, pumping during those same times will help your body stay in a natural rhythm. Your body may not express milk as easily during pumping as when you breastfeed. If that’s not possible at work, or if you’re an exclusive pumper, try to develop and maintain a pumping schedule every day.
Know Your Rights
There are several things you can do before you deliver— and understanding your rights and knowing your employer’s policies on pumping are helpful. Your right to pump at work is protected by law.
Don’t Get Discouraged!
Pumping can be hard. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. For some women, pumping is successful, and for others, it can be an uphill battle. Talk to your Southdale provider if you find yourself struggling—whether physically, or emotionally. Returning to work can generate a lot of different emotions, and pumping may add on to that.
Many women find that their milk supply seems to drop after they return to work. Your healthcare provider or a lactation counselor can help you navigate any challenges that you experience. The most important thing is to know that you’re not alone in how you feel, and there is support and help when you need it.