We know the stress of going back to work after maternity leave can be extremely overwhelming. Even when you love your job and work with a great team, just figuring out the logistics of how you’re going to get you and your child(ren) to daycare/work on time can make your head spin. And if you’re still breastfeeding, the logistics become even more complicated. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make pumping at work more efficient and less stressful. Keep reading below for our tips for surviving and thriving while pumping at work.
Build a freezer stash before going back to work (if you can). We know this seems like a daunting task, and there is never really a convenient time to pump when you are home nursing a baby 24/7, but if you can find a way to pump even just a few ounces here and there it will put you at ease knowing you have milk in the freezer in case you aren’t able to pump all your baby needs each day.
Invest in all the “things” that will make your pumping life easier:
: Of course the safest and best way to clean pump parts between each session would be to wash with soap and water and sanitize. The reality is, most women do not have the luxury of time when pumping at work, so are lifesavers! You can quickly and easily wipe down your pump parts, then store them in the fridge between sessions and you will save all sorts of time.
: This genius invention is a lunch bag that has freezable gel permanently built into it. You can fold it up and store it in your freezer overnight, then use it to transport bottles to daycare and keep your pumped milk cold until you get home from work (especially nice that you won’t need to put your breastmilk in the work fridge!).
Extra pump parts. The more parts you have, the less you have to clean each night. This is a luxury that is definitely an investment, but if you have the means, it is a real sanity-saver to have extra pump parts to rotate through (and an extra set to keep at work in case you forget something vital at home).
Create a pumping checklist. Make a list of everything you must have with you to pump at work: breast pump, power cord, hands-free pumping bra, bottles, sterilizing wipes, flanges, ice pack, pen, nipple cream, breast pads, etc.
Always pack your bag the night before. There are few things worse than getting ready to pump at work and realizing you have forgotten an essential part at home — a bottle, flange, etc. It is much easier to go through your pumping checklist the night before and make sure you have everything you need instead of while you’re rushing around in the morning.
Make a schedule and stick to it. This one is definitely easier said than done, but if you can set your pumping schedule for the day early on you will be more likely to get all necessary pump sessions in. Try to stay on the same schedule as baby — so if you know your caregiver is feeding your little one at 11AM, 2PM and 5:30PM, you should be pumping at those times. If you work at a job that uses a calendaring system, block yourself off for pumping time, otherwise you run the risk of people scheduling meetings during times you need to be pumping.
Look at photos and videos of your baby while you pump. Let’s be honest, even if you have the nicest pumping room out there, you are still pumping at work, and that can be uncomfortable and awkward. Looking at photos and videos of your baby (especially of baby nursing!) will not only help relieve stress and help relax you, it has been known to help increase your pumping output. If your milk production is struggling to keep up with baby’s needs you can also try massaging your breasts while pumping, staying hydrated, eating healthy snacks and taking supplements like fenugreek or milk thistle.