Top 10 items for breast pumping at work

As seen on WorkingMother.com

So, you’ve had a baby, you work, AND you’ve made the amazing choice to nourish your beautiful newborn with breastmilk?!  You are wonder woman! If you’re like me, you find nursing to be easier than dealing with formula; that is, when you are physically with your baby nursing on demand. You’re entering a whole new ballgame – heading back to work definitely throws a wrench into your nursing routine: the sweet sight of your baby’s bright eyes looking up at you, their soft skin wrapped perfectly in your arms… all that love that makes Hallmark millions in Mother’s Day cards is quickly replaced by two plastic flanges, a clunky machine and a whirring sound that is painfully annoying at best.  Make no mistake about it, being a working mom who nurses is not easy and should be celebrated and commended!

While there are a million things I could say about how to get out the door for work with an exclusively breastfed 12-week-old at home, I want to focus on the top 10 things you need to thrive when you plan to pump at work.  Did I mention you are wonder woman?!

1. A Breast Pump From Ashland Health!

Specifically — an insurance covered breast pump — why pay for the cost of a pump if you’re your insurance will?!

Ashland Health is a breast pump provider providing insurance covered breast pumps to women all over the USA.  We work with most insurance plans, and we are a proud provider for Tri-Care military insurance. Ashland Health makes this process easy; we can work with you at any point in your pregnancy, post-delivery, even delivery if you’re a wildly talented multitasker.  Here’s how it works:

  1. Visit us at ashlandhealthrx.com or ask your OB to fax us a prescription at 708-406-1629.
  2. We will call your insurance company to confirm your coverage for a breast pump.
  3. You will choose your breast pump from our List of Pump Options and we will ship it to your door free of charge.

2. A Freezer Back-Up Supply

Storing some milk bags in your freezer before returning to work is imperative so baby can have regular feedings of breastmilk while you’re at the office. This advice is from the standpoint of someone exclusively breastfeeding who is attempting to stock a freezer to go back to work and continue baby exclusively on breastmilk.

I started pumping for all 3 of my children at 8 weeks of a 12-week maternity leave.  If you only have 6 weeks off, I’d suggest starting to pump at 4 weeks — after you have established your supply and good nursing habits.

To get started while on leave, choose a time of day to pump that works with your work schedule and break out the milk maker within the same 30 minutes every day. (For me, this was somewhere between 7:15-7:45 am, and I’d pump for 10-15 minutes).
pumping bag

3. A Work Pumping Bag

If your breast pump did not come with one of those fancy black totes (which is nice, but not necessary), I recommend finding a lightweight bag that can be easily wiped down with room for your pump, accessories, and cooler. You want to be able to completely zip the bag so as to avoid things falling out — especially true if you are a public transportation commuter.

4. Supplies to Leave at Work

  • Disposable nursing pads; just a few for your desk.
  • 1 complete extra set of pumping accessories — flanges, connectors, valves, bottles, and bottle lids. This is just in case you forget something or something breaks unexpectedly.
  • Extra milk storage bags — I always run out at weird times and need more. Having extras on hand will save you from desperate mad-dashes to CVS while your liquid gold is sitting out at the office.
  • Extra power cord (optional) — this is my personal preference; there’s something easier about having the adapter left plugged in at home and having one at work.

5. Supplies to Bring Every Day in Your Pumping Bag

  • Pump and cooler with chilling component
  • 2-3 full kits to pump (Bottles, valves, connectors, etc.) — I pump twice a day, so I bring 2 complete kits.
  • If you have room and a clean space to air dry after each pumping session, you could get away with 1 set/day.
  • 2-3 paper towels
  • Hand sanitizer for before you pump
  • Milk storage bags or lids for your bottles (depending on your storage plan)
  • A snack. Nursing makes me hungry, and having a healthy option always right there will remind you that you need to eat and drink to keep your milk supply up.
  • Freezer Bags for used pieces — if you can’t clean and dry them after use, you will want to keep the used ones separate from the clean ones — I always put the used pieces in a sealable baggie with a paper towel.
  • Batteries if you are using a battery option — they can run out mid pumping session and this is awful in my own personal experience.
  • Something to sit on if you’re wearing a dress (learned that lesson the hard way). A nursing scarf is a great option

6. Nursing Clothes

You’ll need clothes that are work acceptable and that fit over your new *ahem* well-endowed self. Plan ahead by stocking up on a week worth of nursing friendly t-shirts, easy dresses, a few scarves, a blazer, and a few cardigans. If you can figure out the right size for you, button down shirts are your best friend (heads up – you may need to have them tailored).  Don’t spend a ton of money on these clothes because they will only fit for a limited time. Do find pieces that make you feel confident and good in what you have on — the postpartum body can be a challenge to dress but should be celebrated for all it’s amazingness — it just grew a human and is now feeding that human — AH MAZING.  Sharing clothes with friends is an amazing option here!

Keep an extra shirt in your desk — something appropriate you actually wouldn’t be embarrassed to wear — in the event of a spill or leak.

7. A Door Tag and a Place to Pump

The Affordable Care Act requires that you have a place in the office to pump — know your rights, you pumping goddess, you!

If you get your pump from Ashland Health, let us know you are a working mama, and we will include a cute door tag to let passersby know you are working on some important business.  On your first day back, plan out your route to the pumping room and set a schedule for times that will work to reserve the room.

8. A Pumping Plan and Schedule

Ok, so you have everything you need to pump at work, but when and how are you going to make it happen? You will know roughly when you are going to need to pump during the day.  If baby is eating every three hours, then you may pump at 9, 12, and 3.  If your baby has no specific schedule, ask your childcare provider to text you when the baby is eating and pump at that time.

I highly suggest you let your supervisor know that you intend to pump 2-3 times a day, every day, and at what times so you can excuse yourself from your desk or from meetings.  If you address your pumping needs/plans on day one, you shouldn’t feel guilty for excusing yourself to pump.

If you are not comfortable having this conversation, find an HR person to discuss your needs with.  You have legal rights here ladies.  Inform yourself: Your Rights as a Nursing Mom in the Workplace.

Remember: you will only successfully nurse at home if you are successfully pumping at work.  Your baby’s nutrition is worth this potentially awkward moment.

9. Help at Home

Pumping at work adds a new dimension to breastfeeding, and it provides a perfect opportunity for your partner to lend a hand.  Tell them you expect their help with cleaning your pumping supplies after work — this is a job done by hand ladies, and I promise you, it is the LAST thing you want to do when you walk in the door after a long day, and you have the cutest little one exploding with excitement for you to give them a smooch.

I find this complaint to be common among all my mom friends.  Partner “will do all the dishes except for the bottles or the pumping equipment”.  I find most partners are willing and eager to contribute but have no idea how or are afraid of ruining something, so teach them how.

You are a working mom now, and you deserve help!

10. TLC

When you go back to work, you’re emotions will likely be all across the board. (Totally normal — you just had a baby!) So moms, please take an hour over the weekend to do something for you. Get your nails done, exercise, go to Target, go out with your partner — something, anything!

Take it from this working mom: it’s easy to start to feel like all you do is work, pump, and cater to your baby, and this can lead to a whole host of frustrations. 1 hour – that’s it. Take it, love it, enjoy it — you deserve it!

You can get started at any point during your pregnancy or post delivery – Click HERE for your insurance covered breast pump.

Happy pumping moms — you are amazing!