Breastfeeding doesn't come easy for all moms. Many mothers struggle at first and work hard to get it right. But once a new mom finally gets the hang of it and settles into a groove with her newborn, she can be thrown for another loop: the return to work.
Just when a mother has started to figure out what works best for her and her child, she has to rethink everything to make work fit into the picture, schedule pumping time, and figure out how to make it all work even on the most unpredictable of days.
Pumping at work is possible and don't let anyone discourage you about it. It's your right as a mother to have access to a private space and enough time throughout the day to be able to pump. Just because you've returned to work doesn't mean you have to give up breastfeeding, and for many mothers, it's a way to bond while they are away from their child during the day.
The most important thing that can help a mom stay the course, and pump 3 times a day through the workday is always being prepared. Whether you are inside and have access to a lactation room or out in the field driving around, having some key items handy in one place can help every pumping session.
Here are the 10 items to bring along:
A good pumping bag to put all your supplies in! This backpack is from Amazon, it's nothing fancy but it does a great job at holding all your pumping needs! It's currently out of stock but there are similar backpack styles in the same price range.
It opens wide, has an assortment of compartments and pockets to store everything including my electric pump! Also, has a back zipper for easy access to pump parts! It's great for traveling. Find yourself a good backpack! It'll be easy to carry on top of all the other stuff you might have in-tow for work.
Electric Pump along with all the accessories (pump parts, bottles, etc...)
A good electric pump goes a long way. A lot of working moms turn to the Medela. The Spectra S2 is also a great option. The Spectra pump has a closed pumping system, meaning the tubing stays dry because there is no air flow between the expressed milk and tubing. This prevents bacteria and mold from growing around the tubing, making it less of a hassle to clean! The Spectra S2 requires an outlet though! If you go the Spectra route opt for an S1 it comes with a battery!
Breast Milk Storage Bags
After pumping, you can store expressed milk right into these plastic storage bags. They can lay flat and are great for freezing when you finally get home, plus they mean fewer bottles to clean at the end of the night.
Portable Thermal Insulated Cooler Bag
After the milk goes into the plastic storage bags, you store them in this cooler bag to put away in the fridge at work. If you have a communal fridge, no one ever has to see the milk. It's just another lunch bag! Hopefully, people at your work don't take other people's lunch. If they do they're in for a major surprise!
Good quality reusable ice packs are a lifesaver. Get a few and keep them in my freezer. The Alaskan packs are great. They stay nice and cool for 8 hours. You can store one inside the portable Thermal Cooler Bag. This way if you're on the road and not near a fridge your milk still stays cool inside the bag!
Wet bag and Dry Bag
These bags are great for your pump bottles. Here's a quick mom hack to save time. Stick an ice pack in one of these bags to keep pump bottles cool. After pumping and emptying the pump bottles you can stick the bottles in the bag with the ice pack and stick it in the fridge to keep them cool instead of washing them after every single use! This can save a lot of time. Then you only have to wash all the bottle parts once at the end of the night when you get home.
If you prefer you can use the wet and dry bag both and wash the bottles after each use or stick them in a steam bag which can also be a time saver if you have access to a microwave.
Self-explanatory and always good to have.
A Good Hands-Free Pumping Bra
This is a must for any working mom. This tie-back bra fits most sizes. Keep it in your pump bag and put it on over a regular nursing bra instead of wearing it all day.
Baby Wipes and/or Burp Cloth
You can lay down a burp cloth on the table or whatever surface you have in front of you to set out bottles and prevent any spills. Wipes come in handy in case there are any small messes!
Finally, a good nursing cover! This can be a lifesaver. If there is ever a time you have to pump in a car on the go this is a great way to cover up. You can slip this over and go on about your business pumping!
If you're a working mom or about to return to work please know it is absolutely possible to pump successfully even with a busy schedule! Just keep at it and know it's your right to speak up to your supervisor or HR person at work if you need appropriate accommodations! Good luck moms!