A boss giving instruction to two employes

Real moms offer real solutions for common issues while pumping at work

You’re not always in control of your schedule or space at the office, but that hasn’t stopped you from making a game plan that gets it done. Still, emergency meetings, clashing personalities and other obstacles are liable to come up. When that happens, we have solutions that will get you back on track. Read on for tips from our team of real moms who have been there to make workday pumping work for you.

Lack of a mothers’ room

It’s tough to prioritize pumping when you don’t have a dedicated space to do it, which is why the law requires employers to provide a private place and flexible break time for new moms. Know your rights and schedule a time to discuss them with HR; our Workplace Bill of Rights has everything you need to know. If you suspect there will be pushback, seek support from other women in your workplace to convey a collective voice to management. If you’re establishing your company’s first mother’s room, fight for essentials, like an outlet, a locking door and clear signage to keep out squatters who might duck in for personal calls or mid-afternoon catnaps.

If you must use a multi-purpose space, lay claim to the room when you need it by blocking out time on a shared calendar or posting a sign outside to establish boundaries. In a perfect world, you won’t need a backup plan, but be ready in case you need one. Consider whether your car, an empty cubicle or a quiet lounge space could do in a pinch, and keep a nursing cover on hand if you want one.

Limited time

Your workday is already jam-packed, so adding in multiple pumping sessions (with setup and clean-up time) may seem daunting. Communication is key: be assertive and upfront about your pumping breaks, and block off time on your calendar so your team can schedule around them. While you deserve to focus solely on pumping during your breaks, a double electric pump and a hands-free pumping bra can provide extra hands-free efficiency in case you want the option to multitask, whether you’re taking calls, writing emails or driving to a meeting (for real—we’ve been there!). Our team of moms at Ashland Health will discuss your unique situation with you and recommend the ideal pump for your needs and preferences.

Judgment from coworkers

Yes, your job is important, but your baby is more important. Sometimes, people who haven’t been there just won’t get it. Don’t let snide comments or side-eye glances get to you, and definitely don’t let them stop you from doing what you need to do. You’re working two full-time jobs—colleague and mom—while they’re wasting time checking up on you. Keep your head up, tell them to keep their eyes on their own paper, and keep kicking butt. If you’re reliable and confident, their early judgments won’t stick.

No space or time to clean pump parts

Throw your parts in a large Ziploc bag and place it in the fridge or a cooler bag with ice packs after pumping if you have to postpone the whole soap-and-water routine. If that’s a recurring problem, bring multiple sets of parts with you and wash them all when you get home. You can also use quick-cleaning wipes in a pinch: our guide to safe pump-cleaning hacks has everything you need to know.

Pumping at work shouldn’t be hard, but sometimes it is, which makes the fact that millions of moms make it work every day all the more impressive. Don’t ever let a setback interfere with your pumping plans: they happen to the best of us. Know that our team of moms is always here to help, whether you need free extra accessories overnighted, pro-tips and hacks from an IBCLC and our own experiences, or just a listening ear.