Are you nervous about going back to work and pumping? Perhaps you’ve already returned and are pumping at work but are stressing out over pumping complications and know that there has to be an easier way. The good news is that there likely is an easier approach that will ease anxiety and stress so that the process is smoother and more comfortable for everyone involved.
This list will introduce you to 10 of the biggest mistakes that pumping novices often make when it comes to at-work pumping. We’ll give you some practical ways to avoid or overcome each mistake, so consider this your troubleshooting guide to workplace pumping.
Top 10 Mistakes New Moms Make When Pumping at Work
1. Hesitating or neglecting to ask about a private nursing area.
Most employers are legally required to provide a private place that is free from intrusion for breastfeeding mothers who need to pump at work (ACA, 2010.) If your employer doesn’t automatically tell you where that place is, you have the right to ask for it. Even further, this place shouldn’t be the bathroom with other people coming in and out and potential contaminations flying everywhere.
Unfortunately, many new mothers don’t know their rights or decide not to push the issue because they don’t want their pumping to become an issue. In some cases, they believe that their bosses or coworkers are petty enough to use it against them later even if they don’t outright say it. This leaves many new mothers huddled in small bathroom stalls, trying to pump without others hearing the pump and figuring it out.
Learn from the mistakes of others and ask for what is legally yours. You deserve a private space to pump without worry that it will later impact your job. If you think that your employer just isn’t aware of this law, print it out from a reputable source online and take it with you when you have this conversation. If you don’t want to do this on your first day back, find a way to meet with or call your boss or supervisor ahead of time.
2. Not preparing for leaking milk bags.
Do you plan on using milk bags to store your pumped milk? It’s possible for them to leak, and that means a mess in your work bag and a loss of valuable breast milk. This is unfortunate, since the solution is so simple.
Just take plastic containers with a tight seal in your breast pump bag. You can place the milk bags inside the containers, and there is no mess in the case of a leak. This may also prevent leaks because the containers are more durable than a bag.
How you place your full milk bags in your bag is also important. Try to carry a high-quality pump bag that includes space for bottles and/or milk bags. This is more secure than just tossing the bags into an open compartment with nothing to hold them in place.
Related Articles:> The Best Breast Milk Storage Bags For Breastfeeding Moms
3. Settling for the cheapest pump you can find.
Yes, budget is important when it comes to buying a breast pump. After all, you’re likely returning to work at least partially because you need the income, right? It makes sense to find a cheap breast pump and get on with your life, but this will likely lead to disappointments, stress and possibly embarrassment once you get that cheap breast pump out in the real world and put it to work.
We have known MANY moms who said “I can’t pump at all” who after changing to a better pump, actually had MORE than enough!
Some low-budget breast pumps also aren’t very comfortable and can lead to unnecessary nipple pain or even damage to your skin. Others just aren’t very efficient at extracting milk because they don’t have the advanced settings needed to mimic the feeding patterns of a baby. Still others are so noisy that you will regret bringing them into the office after the first feeding. Even with the most private pumping space, quieter is always better.
The solution is to give yourself some time to shop for a quality breast pump online. You want a model that is relatively quiet, comfortable and efficient. Think about how you might want to spend your pumping time as well. For instance, a hands-free model will make it easier to read or return email on your phone if you want to remain productive while pumping.
Related Article > Why Avoid Cheap Breast Pumps
4. Not investing in the proper bras.
You need nursing bras that give you easy access to your nipples, and you need more than one. This is an expense that many women feel guilty about, but it will make breastfeeding at work so much easier and faster. You may also feel more comfortable breastfeeding at work if you don’t have to unlatch the back of your bra or take your breasts completely out to accomplish the job.
Make sure that your nursing bras provide adequate support for your breasts and are adjustable. Your body will change as you rebound from delivering your baby, and you don’t want to keep replacing your bars due to sizing issues.
Related Articles > How to Get the Best Fit in a Nursing Bra
5. Panicking about the amount of milk expressed during each pumping session.
Many new mothers are shocked when they realize that it’s more difficult for their milk to let down when they’re at work. Others find that their anxiety over doing something so seemingly intimate at work interferes with the amount of milk that they collect while pumping at work.
If you don’t have the amount of milk that you expected at the end of your first few sessions, don’t allow it to stress you out. With time, you will perfect your routine, relax and start to enjoy the process. Your production should pick up as the anxiety eases, so don’t assume that you just aren’t cut out for pumping at work. This anxiety and uncertainty is more common than you think, and you aren’t alone.
Related Article > How Much Milk Does My Baby Need?
6. Not carrying multiple pump parts in the pump bag.
You can buy replacement parts for many pumps online, and you should seriously consider doing it as a time-saving measure at work. Instead of washing out each component of the pump after every pump session, you can just disconnect the parts and put them in a baggie before going back to work. At your next pumping session, connect your clean replacement parts. You can wash the dirty parts later at home.
This may also save you if a part ever breaks or malfunctions while you’re pumping at work. Instead of being left with a leaky pump or no pump at all, you will have spare parts on hand. You should also get comfortable with hand expression because you will need to at least do that if your pump is ever nonoperational. You don’t want to go around leaking all day because you haven’t expressed milk.
7. Not setting dedicated pump times.
Pumping at work becomes more complicated if you have meetings scheduled back to back, leaving you no time to pump. What about long working lunches that leave you leaking into your bra and panicking? Pumping is easier if you get control of your schedule and prioritize pumping.
Time blocking is an effective strategy that can help you do this. Block out the exact times that you will pump each day, and then protect those times. This means scheduling meetings around those blocks and creating backup plans if something does come up that may interrupt. Once you get in the habit of scheduling around your pumping sessions, you will find that it works out easier and your day is much easier to control.
8. Giving up too soon.
Pumping at work does get easier with time, but it’s easy to forget that or simply not believe it when you first return to work. In fact, just returning to work after having a baby is stressful for many people even without taking special breaks to pump. Many new mothers simply give up breastfeeding because they can’t handle the stress and don’t see how it could possibly work for them long term.
We urge you to give pumping a try for at least a month or two before you make that decision for yourself. There are so many new moms who struggled at first but were glad that they didn’t give up in the end. Use this page to overcome some of your obstacles and prevent some future mistakes, and breastfeeding at work may become easier than you ever imagined in the near future.
9. Not considering the option of switching to a family-first employer.
Does it sound drastic to suggest that you need a new job? This won’t apply to every breastfeeding mother, but it’s something that others need to think seriously about. If your employer is resistant to giving you a private place for pumping and a couple pumping breaks, they aren’t likely to understand when you’re running late because the babysitter didn’t show up or when you need a half day off to take your little one to the doctor.
If possible, think about looking for jobs with companies in your area that are more understanding about family issues like pumping at work. Many businesses are now embracing family life fully, so you never know what you’ll find once you start considering your options. Again, this isn’t something that will apply to everyone, so don’t stress out if you’re comfortable at your job and don’t want to leave.
10. Feeling guilty for taking breaks to pump.
If your baby were right next to you at work screaming for nourishment, would you stop what you were doing and feed him or her? Of course you would, and that’s exactly why you should hold your head high and pump without guilt while at work. What you’re doing isn’t a waste of time, and it’s definitely not slacking off. You’re nourishing your baby so that you can work while keeping your little one healthy.
You’re essentially doing an extra job that most of your coworkers don’t have to worry about, and you know that most of them are taking small breaks to check their personal email or play games online anyway. Instead of feeling guilt when it’s time to step away for a pumping break, remind yourself why you’re doing this and what the benefits are for your baby at home.
If that doesn’t quiet the guilt, try to read something work related or perhaps return emails from your phone while you pump. With a double hands-free pump, you can do this comfortably without spilling the milk. If you can silence the guilt, use this time to relax and enjoy the process of pumping. That little bit of stress relief may boost your productivity when you get back to work.
Now that you know the most common rookie mistakes when pumping at work, it’s time to perfect your pumping routine. When you do it right, this practice can nourish your baby while eliminating stress from your daily life. Pump in peace!
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