When it comes to motherhood, we think it’s important to acknowledge when things are tough. Pumping at work can be challenging, but so many of us do it anyway. We do it because we want to give our babies the best nutrients possible. We do it because we would be nursing our babies during the day if we were with them. We do it for any number of reasons, but at its core, pumping is an act of love.
Acutely aware of how much support pumping moms may need when they return to work, we knew exactly where to find encouragement and advice: Kindred Bravely’s Facebook page. We asked these women what they wish they had known about pumping at work and pulled together some of their amazing responses. We hope these tips make your pumping journey easier. For more advice, check out 5 Pumping Tips to Know Before Returning to Work, Everything You Need to Know About Breast Milk Storage, and Nursing Bras 101.
One more way we hope to make pumping easier? Our new hands-free pumping and nursing bra!
Pumping in the car (if you feel you are able to still be safe while driving) saved me a lot of time. I have a 45-minute commute to work and was able to get a pumping session in on my way to school each morning. I used an adapter in my car. I found that the battery packs would lose suction pretty quickly. I also recommend a hands-free pumping bra.
- Alyssa Bancroft
Do not be overwhelmed. You’re doing great. Don’t obsess over every ounce. Your supply can stay steady or be built back up if it drops. Everything will be okay. You’ve got this!
- Amy Pilgrim
A pumping bra definitely helped so I could eat at the same time, and I had to practice taking long, slow, deep breaths to relax enough for let-down. I also got a pumping purse so my pump was available without taking it out or putting it on my desk. It had a small bag that held an ice pack and four bottles so that I didn't need to store the milk in the fridge right away. I rinsed the pumping parts with a water bottle into the trash after pumping, and that helped the pieces to not get yucky from the milk as I didn't have time to wash them. Then I cleaned the pieces nightly. One other thing I'd do is watch videos of my son or call my husband who was watching our son, and he'd let me talk to our little one. That helped too!
- Anna Van Egmond
Freemies and a Spectra S1 got me through ten months of pumping at work. It was nice not to be tethered to an outlet or feeling exposed.
- Beth Marino
Have your partner send you a couple videos of the baby babbling or playing every few days and watch them while pumping. I find it more helpful than watching videos I had seen before or took myself.
- Cecily Condon
Read a book by your favorite author or listen to a favorite podcast. And whatever you do, don’t watch the milk!
- Corey Hughey Goodwin
Keep a couple burp cloths in your bag for random drips and dribbles, and to dry off parts. A large Ziploc to throw parts in to take to a sink. And I brought my own little bottle of soap instead of what we use in our break room.
- Courtney Turner
Have a hand pump at work in case your electric pump isn’t working for some reason. Also, have a couple extra bottles at work (with travel lids) for when you forget them.
- Diana Johnson
Essential oils! They helped calm me. When I was stressed, I had trouble with let-down, so what I pumped was only a small portion of what I actually made.
- Erin Carpenter
Start pumping now to build your supply and freezer stash. I’m a teacher so I had to push my admin to provide a space for me to pump since everyone had keys to my room and students would bang on my door. Try to push for a schedule that allows you to pump — even if you only have ten minutes, you can get a few ounces and keep up your supply. It’s okay to miss lunch meetings and tell your students you can’t meet with them. Stay hydrated and eat! It’s so easy to skip meals and forget to drink while teaching. I fed and then pumped in the morning, had a quick morning break where I pumped a couple of ounces, then had a long session at lunch. Sometimes I would pump after school too before I got home.
- Heather Knight
Get a pumping bra! Being hands-free reduces stress and allows you to snack or do work while pumping.
- Jaime Kirbawy
I use a container, which doubles as a wash basin, to put my parts in as soon as I'm done pumping. Then I use the hot water out of the coffee maker to wash and sanitize them. I work in the construction industry and am in the National Guard, so I don't always have access to a sink. I bought an extra set of parts so I could get through the day without having to wash parts if I had to.
- Jennifer Giese
I know this might sound trite, but know your rights in the workplace. Unfortunately, with my first, they timed me pumping. Of course I was so nervous I barely produced anything. I should have gone to HR but I did not. Just don’t let your employer bully you. It’s your right to pump at work. Period.
- Kathleen Silvia
Join a support group online for pumping mamas. I learned SO much while EPing from other moms in the same boat.
- Lena Gilman
Start pumping a week or two weeks after you give birth, even just once a day, and store that in the freezer. Having a stockpile is nice so you don’t feel super anxious about supply when you go back. Date and time your stored milk. When you start using it, go from oldest to newest.
- Rosemary Livingston-Olds
You DON’T need a stash to go back to work! All you need is a day or two worth of milk, 1-1.25 ounces per hour of separation. You’ll pump on a schedule while at work to provide milk for the following day! No need to stress to get a stash.
- Sara Hibpshman
I kept pacifier wipes in the bag with my pumping equipment so that I could quickly clean what I used and then would take the equipment home for washing each night.
- Terilyn Johnston Huntington
Thank you to our BraveMoms for being so generous with their advice. To our new mamas returning to work, we are all rooting for you — you’re already doing a great job!
Do you have any other favorite tips for pumping when you return to work? We’d love to hear them. Please leave a comment below. For tons more great advice, check out our other blog posts, our Facebook page, and our Facebook group KindredMamas.