If you have recently given birth and are a working mom, that means you are probably preparing to go back to work and, for many, pumping will be part of that journey. Although that isn’t the fun part of going back to work, showing off the pictures of your new baby is! It’s now been eight weeks since I gave birth to my third child and our team at Imalac is in the thick of getting ready to launch Nurture this summer. As I am shifting back to work full time, I thought I would share some tips for nursing moms on how to smoothly transition from breastfeeding a newborn to pumping at the office.
Plan, Prioritize, Pump
If you have read any of my blogs before, you already can guess my first, and biggest tip – plan ahead. I think that’s a rule of thumb for most things in life. But in this case, preparation will be a lifesaver as you get back to work. Planning the night before is a huge help for me in visualizing how I will take control of my day and manage my time accordingly. Whether it’s packing lunches for my older kids or laying out clothes for them and myself, I feel it gives me the ability to prioritize with a clear mind and minimize my daily stress.
I also recommend setting an alarm to wake up before your children. This is an important time to have for yourself and give you some peace while getting dressed and ready for your day. This helps to avoid scrambling to get yourself and everyone else out the door simultaneously.
An early start to your day can also help allocate time to nurse and bond with your new baby before your other kids or partner wake up. Alternatively, you can use your early waking hours to pump. This is a huge time-saver that will easily mark one more thing off your to-do list as well as help maintain your milk supply.
Do Not Disturb
When getting back to work, it is a good idea to have a transparent conversation with your supervisor and coworkers regarding your choice to pump. Make sure they are aware that you will have to make time throughout the day to pump and ask to take your time into consideration with work-related tasks, meetings, etc. Scheduling “pumping hours” on your calendar is a professional way of updating your coworkers so that you won’t have to constantly announce or ask for 30 minutes to pump. If you are in a meeting, consider talking about your situation in advance and excuse yourself when it’s time. The most important aspect of getting back to work as a nursing mom is that you are on the same page as your supervisor.
Another suggestion I recommend is to buy or make your own “Do Not Disturb” sign to hang on your office door or other designated pumping area that will signal to your coworkers that you are unavailable. A hard knock on the door while you are pumping can be a little unnerving and certainly won’t help you get that milk out any quicker! While having a space to pump will vary depending on your situation, you should be able to find an area that is private or makes you feel comfortable. If you are in an employee-centric workplace, they may even have a designated lactation room.
If it’s possible to have two or more sets of pump accessories or other tools you may use, you can keep one set at home and the other in your car or office. This can help alleviate the stress and time associated with pumping and reduces how much stuff you have to lug back and forth.
In addition, handling more than one shoulder bag is not only uncomfortable for the day-to-day pumping mom, but detrimental to your back and health over time. Instead, my tip is to use a backpack to carry the items you will need for a successful pumping experience when being on the go. I always like to pack necessities such as quick wipes that can be used to clean the pump parts, as well as an ice pack to properly store milk.
Ultimately going back to work can be a daunting proposition, but setting good expectations for yourself, your peers, supervisors and family can make a big difference. Planning ahead and investing a little extra in whatever you can do to make life a little more convenient for you will help ease the transition.