Anyone that's pumping or considering it knows that there are often many logistics to consider. Where am I going to pump? What attire will be best for pumping? Do I have all of my pump parts? The checklist for pumping can be quite exhaustive and make moms want to quit. But for the many nursing moms who work, there isn't a choice. Because of the separation, they'll have to pump if they want to feed their child breast milk. Whether you're an occasional or exclusive pumper, there are pumping hacks to know about if you're a working mom.
I pumped exclusively for a few months with my first daughter, and it seemed like a part-time job. I was committed to giving her breast milk as often as possible, but sometimes the packing, cleaning, and maintenance of my pump was simply overwhelming. Due to the time required to keep a pump in top sanitary condition — not to mention, proper suction condition — I ditched the whole pumping routine the first time I had to travel on a plane with my 3 month old. Had I looked into some tips and tricks, I might've found ways to deal with the pumping challenges I was encountering. Here are nine hacks to help you stay in the pumping game when you're a mom that works outside of the home.
1. Ask For A Proper Pump Room
"A pump room is not a luxury or some superfluous perk akin to a kegerator," Rachel Loftspring, founder of The Breeding Ground, tells Romper in an interview. "Assuming a workplace will provide a private, clean space is a totally reasonable expectation."
Loftspring started a social network of parents to be an advocate for family supportive workplace laws and policies. She said in many cases in the U.S. employers are legally required to offer private spaces for pumping that is not a bathroom. The pump room doesn't have to be a five-star, Ritz Carlton experience (although that'd be nice), it just has to be a space that is clean, safe, and offers privacy to nursing mothers.
2. Be As Hands-Free As Possible
"Maintaining a regular pumping schedule while at work is hard. And vital if pumping is going to be a success," Loftspring says. "For the busy working mom, an inexpensive and yes, less than sexy, [hands-free pumping bra] provides the freedom to multi-task."
No one probably wants to answer emails, read documents, or eat during a pumping session, but you might find yourself without much choice on a busy work day. Being ready with a hands free option might help you feel less stressed when you're facing an impending deadline. If you want to get yourself even more of a bargain, Kelly Mom explained how to make your bra hands-free by using two hair elastics.
3. Ask For Help
Just because you're the one personally breastfeeding and pumping doesn't mean your partner can't help in certain ways. My husband became very well versed in pump parts and how to sterilize them early on because that was the way our baby was getting fed. If regular help is unavailable, like you're a single mama or have a traveling partner, you can consider stocking up on some pump parts and leaving them at the office. That way you're not constantly shuttling pump parts back and forth.
4. Keep Extra Bags At Work
Everyone has done the mad dash to work at some point or another, and haste have forgotten many things — including the bottles to catch and store our breast milk at work.
"An easy hack is to keep some extra milk storage bags at work," Jessica Michael, mom of four and full-time marketing director tells Romper. "You can secure the bag with the zip and a piece of tape, and it works just like a bottle."
5. Bring Baby Pictures To Help You
Nursing and pumping are obviously quite different - one is a physical experience of bonding the other is mechanical. Mothers who struggle with milk output at work may find looking at a picture of their baby or listening to a recording of their baby helps with supply, explained Parents.
6. Download Relaxing Music Or Meditations
Work, for most of us, isn't the most relaxing place in the world. Work can be stressful and the environment can be too. There are some studies that suggest stress can negatively impact a nursing mother's milk let down or flow, according to Baby Center. The site suggested listening to calming music or meditations to help aid in milk production while in a stressful environment like work.
7. Bring Your Baby
This probably can't happen in a traditional office setting, but it's possible if you're a traveling mom. You can make it a family "vacation" with your partner or relative. You could also pay a caretaker in the city you're traveling to, to watch after your baby while you work. Either way, having your baby with you will help with milk supply and you won't have to worry about stockpiling like crazy before a trip.
8. Make DIY Ice Packs If Needed
Ideally, you will have a cooler with you, but if you forget one you'll have to make your own DIY ice pack. Lactation Matters suggested that nursing moms who forget their ice packs ask a flight attendant for a bag and ice. Once you arrive at your destination the breast milk should be frozen or used as quickly as possible.
9. Join An Online Support Group
"Breastfeeding moms are supportive of one another. Join an online group through Facebook or start your own," Michaels suggests. "I've known moms who have delivered milk to one another and even provided [pump] parts in an emergency. It's OK to lean on others for help."
Being a working mom can be extremely stressful, and adding pumping onto your professional responsibilities might feel like you're doing double duty. Essentially, you are, but it's not impossible. Finding creative solutions and hacks to your pumping challenges will help you even through your most difficult times.