Today’s women are more empowered than ever. The rate of women in the workforce has risen exponentially in the last two decades – 70% of mothers with children under 18 participate in the labor force! This means mamas all over are finding ways to juggle work and family life. This comes with a myriad of challenges, one of which is – you guessed it – breastfeeding. Luckily, there are ways to manage your breast milk supply despite your nine-to-five.
The last thing any mom wants is to leave her newborn with anyone besides her significant other or a family member, but it is necessary for many moms. The thought of heading back to work while still breastfeeding is scary. Even though, by law, a workplace must offer a place to pump, it can feel cramped or uncomfortable to do so. There are a million reasons that working as a new mom is difficult, but as any breadwinning mama will tell you: you’ll find a way!
The good news is, we have some tips to help you ease back into a day-to-day routine that works for both you and your little one. Eventually, you will settle in to the perfect system for you! With the following, you can feel prepared for whatever your new normal looks like.
1. Plan ahead!
Whether you’re starting a new job or returning to the one you had, discussing pumping with your employer can be a major stress relief. As with most things, having clear expectations will eliminate some of the fear or the unknown. Getting to know the part of the office where you’ll be pumping is key. Make sure you have access to a refrigerator or cooler to store any milk you produce while at work. Your pumping space should be private and somewhat comfortable. (For some tips on how to prep meals to take to work, check out our meal prep tips + recipes blog post!)
2. Have a stash before returning to work.
Something that will help you in the long run is building up a stash of milk before going back to the office. This will help you get in the habit of expressing and saving milk in advance. Your stash will also come in handy if you have some difficulty pumping in your first few days of being back at work.
3. Create a Schedule + stick to it.
It is recommended that new moms pump every two-and-a-half to three hours, or three times in a typical eight-hour workday. Before you start each workday, find a time that works for you to pump. Get a feel for your daily agenda and see which blocks of time will work for you most often. If possible, put your pumping times on your schedule so your co-workers know not to schedule meetings with you then. Of course, as time goes on your baby’s needs will change and so will this schedule.
4. Dress to pump.
You’ve heard the phrase “Dress to impress,” right? This may now be the least of your concerns. Making sure your work attire is pump-friendly will save you time and stress each day. This doesn’t mean you can’t still be stylish, though! Some of the best options include: button downs, cowl-necks, wrap shirts, or camisoles with a shirt on top. Not having to fuss with garments that must be removed or make you feel completely exposed while pumping is a game-changer.
This may be easier said than done depending on your work environment, but creating a space for relaxation will have a positive impact on the amount of milk you are able to pump and your experience – yay! Adding a framed photo of your bundle of joy and playing some music that brings you zen can do the trick. We also suggest watching videos of your little one that bring you joy to put you in the milk-making zone.
Balancing work and breastfeeding is no small task. Getting comfortable with pumping anywhere, being away from your baby, and focusing on your daily agenda will take some time. Be patient with yourself and ease into it! With most of your focus being on feeding and pumping, it can be easy to neglect your own needs, but it’s important to make sure you eat well, drink plenty of water, and spend some time doing activities that bring you joy. And remember, you got this mama!