I estimate that I pumped about 500 times at work when my children were babies. I struggled at times and other times it came with great ease. Here are some tip, tricks, and gadgets that helped me.
Figure out your schedule in the two weeks leading up to returning to work, keep a log of every time you feed your baby. Look at the trends and see how that can work pumping at that time into your work schedule. If you are a teacher and you know you do not have a break till a different time try to change your baby’s feeding schedule in the weeks leading up to your return. Make sure that your caregivers keep you updated as the babies schedule changes, you body knows what your baby is doing somewhere else (or at least it felt that way to me).
Bring everything you need with you. I am a very modest person and the thought of washing bottles in the kitchen where coworkers would walk in on me was a horrifying thought. I brought enough bottles for the whole day and extra pump parts. I also got the Medela wipes to clean parts at my desk. I avoid disposable items almost all the time but I found these wipes to be a lifesaver.
Freezer pouches, bag, or a small fridge to store your pumped milk. I never had a small fridge in my personal office but you can get mini fridges that are small enough to hold a six pack of soda. If that is not an option, get a reusable lunch bag to put in the fridge that is closes. Be careful not to get an insulated bag it could keep the cold air away from the milk if you do not leave it open. I had a special bag that had built in ice packs in them to bring my milk home on the long commute. Also leave yourself a note somewhere you will see it to remember your package in the fridge, I left on more than one occasion without my bag.
Hands free bra is a must many women say they need to have at work. Go to a maternity store and ask them to help you get the correct size. I found it hard for me to check email and do other things while pumping but it is a great tool if you can do it. If it works for you, I highly recommended it; I know I wish it worked for me.
Have videos and pictures of the baby on your phone. On stressful days it can be hard to relax for your milk to let down. I found a video with the sound on alwayshelped. If you can have someone video the baby with your phone when you are not in the room and look at it the first time when you are ready to pump the added mystery will help. Do not discount this tip, it really does work.
Schedule you session for pumping. For as much control as you can have over your work schedule decide when you are going to pump. If you are willing put it on your calendar so people know not to call you or schedule a meeting then do it.
Decide where to pump! This is much harder than you would think, even if you have an office that locks that may not be where you want to pump. Often when I was pumping people would knock on my door, call me and wonder why I did not answer…. Etc. Maybe an empty office with a door that locks works or a private bathroom (there is a level of respect of a locked bathroom door that is unmatched). You can also go the bold route and put a sign on your door, again it depends on your office culture and your personality, I was not someone who wanted a sign on my door.
When it gets tough because of stress or lack of sleep and you need to boost your supply I took Mother Love More Milk capsules. The Mother Love More Milk capsules were amazing and did the job but do not just stop taking them; wean off of them so they remain effective. My lactation consultant that I worked with said I could eat the lactation cookies and drink the teas for added comfort but the capsules are the things that will really make an impact on your supply.
Some other little tips: Drink lots of water, make sure that water bottle you had when you were pregnant and staying hydrated is still on your desk. Dehydration is the one of the leading issues in maintaining your supply.
Have extra nursing pads with you, if you get stuck in a meeting or someone else shows you a picture of their baby you could have an embarrassing incident, keep extras (and make sure they are not disposable, washable ones are much better for you and the enviroment).
Finally, relax! Stress was the number one factor that affected my supply and made me dip into the freezer. You can do it, do not get discouraged if you think you are not producing enough or if you find you cannot keep up. There will be times where you will need to catch up to a growth spurt on the weekend by extra nursing but your body will figure it out.
You’re going to do great!!
Leigh Garofalow is a mother of two children ages 4 and 2, and was born an environmentalist. Leigh is an avid foodie trying to get her whole family to eat real food all the time. Her goal is teach everyone how easy it really is to live a healthy and environmentally friendly lifestyle. She is the founder and editor of Green-4-U.com giving green living tips to the average person and a founding