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Many mothers face the same worries as they near the end of their maternity leave. Frequently asked questions include: Where will I pump at work? How long of a break will I get? What do I need to buy?
I don’t want you to have to stress and worry. This post will help alleviate your worries and answer your questions as you prepare to head back to work.
What You Need to Know About Pumping at Work
Know your rights
As you make preparations and plans to pump at work, notify your employer of your plans. There is a good chance they have experience with this and can help.
Even if your employer is up to speed on your rights and their responsibilities, it’s important for you to know, too. The Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law legally requires employers to provide time (and space) for employees covered under the Federal Labor Standards Act to express milk. Mothers are legally entitled to a private space that is not a bathroom. Many places offer what is called a Tranquility Room specifically for this purpose. Just ensure there is a properly working lock on the door to provide privacy.
Visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health website to learn more about your rights in the workplace.
New moms tend to receive unsolicited advice quite often and just as often have products marketed to them that they don’t need. Don’t worry, this isn’t that post. I have included a concise list of essential items you do need in order to have a seamless and comfortable experience pumping at work.
Double Electric Breast Pump
A breast pump is the single most important item to have. There are plenty of breast pump brands and types available. What to Expect gives a detailed overview of the different types of pumps and reviews them for affordability, ease of use, and portability.
Your insurance company must cover the cost of a breast pump (either to rent or to keep). Contact your insurance to learn more about the procedure for getting your pump. For many insurance companies, clients need to purchase their pump and submit the receipt for reimbursement.
If you do not have health insurance, check Facebook Marketplace and local moms groups; you will frequently find free or inexpensive used breast pumps there.
A quality manual hand pump is helpful to have as a backup in case you are working in another location, in a hurry, forget your pump at home, or your AC adapter quits working. It also fits nicely into a small clutch for those occasional date nights out on the town.
Hands-Free Pumping Bra
So you aren’t stuck holding your flanges to your chest the entire time, it’s a good idea to have a hands-free pumping bra handy. You can catch up on emails or work on a project while at the same time providing milk for your little one. Medela makes a popular bandeau bra that you can put over yourself and still be able to wear normal bras. The flanges fit snuggly inside the two holes and sit close to your chest for seamless contact.
If you prefer a multi-functional bra, try Pacasso’s pumping/nursing bra, which can be used for both nursing and pumping.
Purchase a mini-cooler and ice pack to store and transport your milk from work to home.
Have a Medela steam bag ready to sanitize your flanges and membranes. If you are uncomfortable cleaning the parts at work, or simply do not have time, don’t worry about it. Grab a gallon-size Ziploc bag and use that to bring home the used parts to clean and sanitize at home.
Even if you take your flanges and membranes home to wash and sanitize them, it’s still a good idea to wipe them down after cleaning. This prevents milk from transferring to other surfaces and germs from transferring to your pumping parts. Medela makes great wipes just for this purpose.
Spare Pump Parts (flanges and membranes)
Keep a spare set of flanges and membranes at work so you don’t need to transport them back and forth between home and work.
Bring a cover-up to make you feel more comfortable. Here is a popular nursing poncho that also serves as a nursing cover, car seat canopy, shopping cart cover, and stroller cover. You can’t beat that versatility!
As careful as you are to make sure everything is clean and sanitized, your hands should be as well. Always keep a bottle handy.
Pictures and Videos of Baby
Pumping in a professional and impersonal atmosphere (and the absence of your child) can make it difficult for your body to produce milk. As odd as it sounds, seeing and even hearing your baby triggers your body to produce and release milk. Have some of your favorite pictures and videos on hand to help stimulate your milk production.
Motherhood (and everything that comes with it) does not come with a manual. Hopefully, with the information in this post, you can feel more prepared and ready when the day comes when you return to work.
Are there any products you think I missed and you think are absolutely necessary for pumping at work? Please share them with us below!