Pumping is hard enough as it is. Now throw in a 9-5 workday, postpartum work outfits that are pumping friendly, lots of gear and little nipple suction dood-dads, and now it’s a total sh*t show. Fortunately, your good friends here at Babe are on the job to make it a little bit easier. Not only do we have pumping and nursing friendly workwear styles that make you look like the boss you are (even if you’re not feeling that way), but we’ve got the hacks that will make the whole time-to-pump-in-the-conference-room moment just a bit easier. (Just don’t forget to Slack your colleagues when you’re heading in!)
1. Keep it private:
It seems like a no-brainer, but secure a private room or designated lactation room at work to ensure that you can pump in a comfortable and private setting. Don’t have one specifically laid out for it? Deem it for yourself and keep HR in the loop. If space is tight, book time in a meeting room on the shared calendar so everyone knows to steer clear.
2. Invest in a quality breast pump:
A high-quality breast pump can make all the difference in your pumping experience. Look for a model that is efficient, comfortable, and easy to use. We love the Luna pump by Motif Medical. Outfitted with a battery that lasts over two hours between charges, this new Luna provides a new level of portability while still offering hospital grade suction for even the most robust eaters. Like the original Luna, the new battery-powered version is a closed system and offers comfort at the highest setting for a faster let-down, easy customization options, a built-in LED night light with three different settings, backflow protection and a quiet 43-decibel hum.
3. Use a hands-free pumping bra:
A hands-free pumping bra can make it easier to multitask while pumping. Answer emails or take phone calls like a boss while you’re excreting liquid gold for your little one. Don’t know where to turn? Our crew at HATCH has this hack figured out. With a seamless design in a finely ribbed modal blend, our Essential Nursing and Pumping Bra is crafted just for the occasion. The nursing clasp, adjustable straps, + pull-down design allow for seamless feeds, plus the front fabric overlap opens to discreet slits for pumping. Even better? It’s Oeko-Tex certified (aka, free of harmful chemicals).
4. Stock up on supplies:
Make sure to have extra bottles, bags, and pump parts at work in case you forget something or need to pump more frequently than expected. But, before you head back to work, do some test driving with a few bottle brands to figure out which shapes, designs and nipple options work best for your babe. Peep Babylist’s Bottle Box, complete with samples of nanobébé, Comotomo, NUK, Dr. Brown’s and Olababy, is an awesome muse for your research.
5. Coordinate with your boss and colleagues:
Talk to your boss and colleagues about your pumping needs and schedule to ensure that you can take breaks as needed. Moms in the majority of workplaces have the right to “break time” to pump breast milk at work. The Federal “break time” law applies to all companies with 50 or more employees; and to smaller companies unless they can prove that complying with the law would create an “undue hardship” – a very high bar to meet. A lot of states have laws that make this “break time” requirement stronger and more clear – you can see an up-to-date list of those laws on the website of the National Conference of State Legislators.
6. Manage your time effectively:
Try to schedule your pumping sessions around your work schedule to minimize disruptions and ensure that you have enough time to pump.
7. Stay hydrated and well-nourished:
Make sure to stay hydrated and well-fed throughout the day to maintain your milk supply and energy levels. Remember Family Status discrimination (also known as “Caregiver Discrimination”) protects people from being treated differently at work because of caregiving obligations or his or her role as a caregiver. This can include things like the stereotyping of mothers—characterizing them as less competent or able to do tough work; committed or less deserving of advancement, and not treating requests for schedule changes for pumping or caregiving in the same manner as other requests for schedule changes.
8. Take breaks when you need them:
Don’t be afraid to take a break if you need it. Pumping can be stressful and tiring, so it’s important to take care of yourself. Check out our essentials for your postpartum recovery journey, because contrary to what this world wants you to think, you have needs too, and we’re here to help you honor them.
10. Embrace the ice pack:
Ensure your liquid gold is safely stored by using ice packs and a cooler bag. Keeping breast milk chilled is essential when pumping at work, and it’s a good idea to have a few ice packs in your pump bag to keep your milk at the proper temperature until you get home. If you don’t have access to a fridge for milk storage, a high-quality cooler bag can be your new best friend.
You can also look for freezer-safe milk storage bags so that you can work on your freezer stash from your very first day back in the office.
11. Know your rights and advocate for yourself:
Under the Affordable Care Act, employers are required to provide reasonable break time for nursing mothers to pump breast milk for up to one year after a child’s birth. They also must provide a private space (not a bathroom!) for this purpose.
Brush up on federal laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act and visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s website to know your rights. Never be afraid to advocate for your and your baby’s needs.
12. Get expert advice:
If you’re having trouble with your milk supply or finding it hard to express breast milk, don’t hesitate to seek advice from a lactation consultant or lactation counselor. They can offer valuable guidance for breastfeeding moms on everything from milk production to pumping schedules and techniques, making your workday and pumping sessions much more manageable.
13. Create a pumping playlist or audiobook list:
Let’s admit it: Pumping can get a little tedious. Why not use this time to listen to a favorite podcast or audiobook, or even create a calming pumping playlist?
Listening to something enjoyable can not only make the time fly by but also help you relax, which is helpful for milk flow. You might even look forward to your pumping breaks as some me-time!
14. Master the art of power pumping:
If you’re struggling with milk supply, consider power pumping. This involves pumping in a specific pattern that mimics a baby’s feeding habits during a growth spurt.
Essentially, it involves pumping for about 20 minutes, resting for 10 minutes, pumping for 10, resting for 10, and so on, over the course of an hour. This signals to your body that it needs to produce more milk, acting as a sort of “supply and demand” system.
Remember to consult with a lactation consultant or healthcare provider to determine if this is right for you. It can be a game-changer for many working moms.
14. Designate a “pump emergency kit”:
Picture this: You’re at work and ready for your pumping session when you realize you’ve left a crucial part of your pump at home. Don’t let that happen! Create a pump emergency kit that you keep at work for such situations.
This kit can include pumping supplies such as extra flanges, membranes, bottles, a manual hand pump (a lifesaver if you forget your electric pump or there’s a power outage), and breast pads. Even having a spare Essential Nursing and Pumping Bra in there could come in handy in case of any unexpected spills or leaks.
It’s better to be over-prepared when it comes to pumping — your future self will thank you!
15. Stay positive and focused:
Remember why you are pumping and try to stay positive and focused on your goals. Pumping at work can be challenging, but with the right mindset and tools, you can make it work. We promise.
A Final Word
No doubt, pumping at work can feel like a daunting task, but remember, you’re not alone. From thousands of working moms mastering the art of pumping breast milk to the brilliant lactation consultants helping us along the way, there’s a whole community of support out there.
With the right gear, a supportive workplace, and a pinch of determination, you can become a pumping pro. And always remember — you’re doing an amazing job, mama! For more pregnancy and postpartum tips, head on over to our blog.