Working and Pumping At The Office

Since I’ve been online, I’ve met many wonderful Mom’s who have successfully pumped at work as well as Mom’s who are just returning to work, and beginning to pump.

I’ll just share my experience with the hope that anyone who feels discouraged, or feels that they can’t do it long term, will see that it IS possible. :)

I returned to work when my son was four months old. I eased him and myself into the daycare/work routine by taking the last two weeks of my maternity leave, and with the daycare’s cooperation, I began leaving Christian there for a couple of hours a day, just to get used to being away from him, and having him take a bottle of EBM from someone other than his DH.

I also began pumping, and stockpiling my milk by pumping at the end of my nursing sessions with Christian – even if all I got was 1-2 ounces, it was a start :)

I then called my supervisor to remind them of the arrangements I’d made before going out on maternity leave to make sure that the room that was supposed to be set up for me to pump was ready.

By the last week, I was leaving Christian 1/2 days ~ and by the time I started work, we had both settled into a routine.

There were days that I worried about my milk output, and there were days that I became so tired of work, pumping, people’s comments, etc, that I felt like giving up … but I hung in there.

  • I drank my water.
  • I made sure to contact my lactation consultant when things went wrong. Sometimes she was more help than my regular OB, who I realized didn’t have all of the answers…
  • I recognized the fact that just because someone was a doctor and had MD after their name – it didn’t make them an expert in breastfeeding…
  • I surrounded myself with as much support as I could.
  • When I ran into resistance at work, I talked it through, stuck to my guns, and reminded myself – AND THEM – that if people could have liberal smoke breaks, then I was entitled to MY 2 breaks to pump.

I’m sorry if this is so long, but I thought I’d just offer some encouragement. :) I’m not a doctor. I’m not a lactation consultant either.
I’m just a Mom, who started out wanting to offer the best she could to her son, and succeeded in continuing to work, and pump …and raise a healthy 17 month old. Just remember, it CAN be done!

The Plan

I never planned on pumping. I never planned on nursing beyond my maternity leave …. so how did I find myself returning to work with a brand new pump hanging from my shoulder?

I had a plan.

After making up your mind to pump:

  • DON’T BACK DOWN IF RECEIVING CRITICISM OR RESISTANCE when making arrangements for pumping at work.
  • Be prepared to supply the answers to the following questions:
  • Where and when will you need to pump?
  • How long do you plan to nurse?
  • How long will you need to pump?
  • What kind of room/setup will you need?
  • Do you have an efficient pump? (Telling my boss that I had a double pump that took 15-20 minutes, helped.)

I successfully pumped at my job for almost 18 months, so I know with planning – and the right pump – it CAN be done.
I bought a Medela Pump In Style about 3 weeks before I returned to work, and it was probably the best purchase I could have ever made. Yes, the price was steep, 250.00, but it was WELL worth it when I took into consideration the milk I sent to daycare each day, and the short amount of time it took to pump.

About two and a half weeks before I returned to work – and after I purchase the pump, I called my manager to confirm the arrangements I’d made with him before I’d gone on maternity leave. I wanted to follow Christian’s nursing schedule as closely as I could, and by the time I was ready to return to work, at 4 months old, Christian was nursing every 3-3.5 hours.

So, with his nursing schedule in mind, here was a typical day of nursing and pumping during the week:

  • Before I left for work, I nursed: 5:30 AM
  • Started work: 6:00AM
  • First pumping session: 9:00AM (15-20 min ~ 9-12 oz of EBM pumped)**
  • Second pumping session: 12NOON (15-20 min ~ 8-10 oz of EBM pumped)**
  • Off work: 2-2:30PM
  • 3:00PM nurse Christian after picking him up from daycare

** Most women who pump 2-3x times per day for 15-20 minutes get the most milk from their first AM pumping session.

Building EBM Milk Supply

Before Returning To Work

A little over a week before I returned to work, I started pumping after each nursing session. I recommend pumping AFTER each nursing session, because you don’t want to pump first, and deplete you breasts for your baby.

You want to wait until *after* your infants nursing session has ended, then pump until your breasts are empty. Don’t worry if you don’t pump that much – even 1 to 2 ounces per session adds up.

Do this about 7-10 days before you return to work, and you’ll have at least 1 to 3 days stockpile of expressed breastmilk.

 

Milk Storage Guidelines

When using pumped milk within about a week you DON’T need to freeze it! EBM is good in the coldest part of your fridge – in the back) for 5-8 days. When you don’t freeze the EBM , it helps retain more of the nutrients, antibodies, etc.

You can find the full LLL guidelines for human milk storage on the La Leche League’s website.

How to Warm the Milk

  • thaw and/or heat under warm, running water;
  • do not bring temperature of milk to boiling point;
  • shake before testing the temperature; shaking will also redistribute the cream among the milk (it is normal for stored milk to separate into a cream and milk layer)
  • Current recommendations are to gently SWIRL the milk and not to shake it too vigorously do not use a microwave oven to heat human milk.

Thawed Milk

If milk has been frozen and thawed, it can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours for later use. It should not be refrozen. It is not known whether milk that is left in the bottle after a feeding can be safely kept until the next feeding or if it should be discarded.

When The Boss Says No Or Begins To Complain

Unfortunately, this does happen, and there are some things you *can* do to continue pumping.

Your first step is to obtain information on the laws of the state you live in by calling up your local Department of Labor Office.

Are you hourly or exempt employee? — that makes a difference. Exempt employees can alter their work schedule without it affecting wage and hourly laws. Hourly (or non-exempt) employees must stick to wage and hour laws. This includes provisions for breaks. Most states do not have provisions for breaks for exempt employees.

Analyze other employee breaks. See if they are sticking to company policy.

After you’ve gathered all of this information, take this to your personnel office. Tell them that you are willing to negotiate on work time for them to allow you to pump — still maintaining a 8 hr workday.

There should be no reason for the company not to work around a pump schedule providing you are exempt. It does become more difficult if you are hourly and that’s why it’s important to document what OTHER hourly employees do on their breaks (such as smoke breaks).

It is always best to first speak with your direct supervisor first, and if they are not willing to negotiate, tell them that “unfortunately you are unsatisfied with their response and would like to speak with someone from your personnel department – or another manager.

It is important that you follow the chain of command and most times bosses *will* negotiate – so that their boss does not have to be involved . Remember to NOT lose your temper & be respectful in your meetings discussing this.

Every women is different when it comes to how they choose to pump at work – and for how long, but the desire to continue to supply our children with breastmilk/EBM is the same. I like to go by the phrase, where there is a will – there is a way – ESPECIALLY when it comes to nourishing our children.

Good Luck!

~Kenyatta


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