By Wendy Colson, RN, IBCLC, RLC
Being a modern working mom comes with its own set of challenges and triumphs. We believe every mom is a working mom here at BOOBIE*, and balancing breastfeeding and work is no small feat. Even still, it's possible to continue your breastfeeding journey while excelling in your career (and not losing your sanity in the process). Here’s the essentials you need to know to help you succeed:
Get the Right Pump
Pumps come in various settings, sizes, and portability options so that you have the flexibility to create a pumping routine that suits the type of work you do and your schedule. Typically, a double electric pump where you can express milk from both breasts is a great option for working mothers. Hands free pump options (such as the Willow or Elvie) are new to the market and worth a shot so long as you are able to express the same amount of milk volume in a pump session. You’ll want to ensure that no matter which pump you choose, that you have the proper flange size and feel comfortable using the settings to make sure you are effectively removing milk to keep your milk supply up while away from your baby. A lactation consultant (IBCLC) can help you identify the best pump, flange size, and help you with pumping tips.
Create Your Pumping Routine
Creating an effective pumping routine is essential for maintaining a steady milk supply and managing your work responsibilities. Start by coordinating with your employer or supervisor to establish designated pumping breaks- this depends on what your workflow/schedule looks like. For many mothers, it may include blocking time on your calendar where you are unavailable, arranging time for others to provide coverage for you, and allowing enough time for you to pump, clean, and store your pump parts as well. These breaks are entitled to you by law for you to express milk comfortably and efficiently so be sure to discuss any concerns about accommodations for a private space to pump before your return to work.
Optimize the Environment
Being able to express milk is about more than just making time to pump- it is also about helping your body feel safe enough to have a successful let down of milk. To make your pumping comfortable and productive, ensure you have a private and comfortable space where you can pump without interruptions. Personalizing your pumping space with soothing elements such as soft lighting and calming elements or even bringing some pieces of your baby’s clothing can enhance your pumping experience and help to stimulate a letdown response. Additional tools such as a good pumping spray and pumping petals can help with milk let down as well. If your workplace offers a designated lactation room, be sure to make use of it!
Create Your Support Network
While we have come a long way in normalizing breastfeeding, addressing any concerns or misconceptions about pumping at work can help create a supportive atmosphere. If there have been other women in your workplace that you know are mothers and have pumped at work, they can be valuable resources as you look to set up a routine in your workplace. If you don’t have access to others in your workplace who have pumped at work, look to other mothers in your industry, community or personal circle for support and encouragement. You will also want to ensure you have conversations with your baby’s caregiver about expectations, feeding routines and any other concerns. Community and finding your village, especially when adjusting to a new routine is invaluable!
You can continue your breastfeeding journey while thriving in your professional life and create the perfect routine that works for you and your family. Remember, you’re a supermom now- what is there that you can’t do?