Maternity leave seems to end way to quickly, especially here in the United States. Unfortunately most working moms are forced to go back to work sooner than they would like to. This is an emotional time and can be extra stressful for the moms that are breastfeeding. Today I would like to discuss some concerns about breastfeeding for the working mom and some tips for pumping on the go.
Know Your Rights
The first step for returning to work and successfully continuing your breastfeeding journey is knowing your rights.
In 2010 a law known as “Break Time For Nursing Mothers Law” was passed making things so much easier for working moms who wanted to continue to breastfeed. If you are breastfeeding, you understand the need to express milk regularly for comfort and to keep up your milk supply for your baby. Also, if you are away from your baby you know that it is important to pump so that he has enough food for when you are gone.
This law mandates that adequate space and break times be available for mothers who need to pump while at work.
The space can not be a bathroom and must provide enough privacy so that no one can see inside.
The time requirement is not a specified amount of time, considering the amount of time it takes to pump varies, however, there must be a reasonable amount of time provided for pumping breaks and they must be provided as often as necessary. Most moms need to pump every 2 to 3 hours to simulate how their baby would eat if they were together.
This law currently covers all nonexempt or hourly employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Salaried employees are not currently covered under this particular law, which is pretty crazy if you ask me. There is something called the “Supporting Working Moms Act” in progress that would help extend the “Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law” to millions of mothers here in the United States. To learn more about that, or to find out how to you may be able to help click here.
If you are not covered under the federal law, I would encourage you to contact your state or local breastfeeding coalition to find out if you are covered under a state law.
Most places of employment have a uniform or some kind of dress code, but try to keep comfort in mind when returning to work. Remember that tight restricting clothing can lead to clogged ducts and mastitis, so it is better to have looser options if possible.
There are a ton of clothing options out there for the breastfeeding mom that would also make pumping at work easier. Many of these shirts have separate openings or panels that can be moved while breastfeeding or pumping. There are also hands free bras that might make it easier to pump at work and do other things during your break like use a laptop or eat your lunch.
If these types of clothing are not an option for you because of your specific dress code or uniform, try to dress in layers so that when it is time to pump you are more comfortable. You may also want to consider bringing a nursing cover or scarf.
Pumping at work or any environment besides the comfort of your own home can cause anxiety and stress. You may worry about someone walking in on you, the tasks you need to complete, or that you are taking up too much time.
Try not to worry about any of these things during this time.
If need be take some headphones and listen to some of your favorite music during your work pumping sessions.
Another thing you could do, is take some pictures of your sweet baby to look at to make the sessions more enjoyable.
Remember that you are using this time to make quality nutrition for your baby, and that is amazing and important
If you do not have a fridge that is available to you at work, or you have a long commute home, make sure you bring a cooler with ice packs so that you can keep the milk good for future use. It would be a shame to go through the act of pumping just to have to throw the milk out because you did not thing about how to store it. Bring extra collection containers, bags, or bottles to hold all the milk you express.
If you have any questions about safe breast milk storage, you can check out my “How To Freeze Breast Milk” article for guidelines and tips.
Pump on your commute
Some mothers find that pumping on the way to and from work makes their lives easier. I found that the easiest way to pump while driving is using the Freemies Collection Cups! I use them all the time and they are seriously amazing! They can easily be concealed under your clothing so you can pump on to go with no problems. You can also use them at home while you are holding your baby! You can find out more about them in my product review.
Things to remember
Going back to work after having a baby is a stressful time, try not to make it more difficult by worrying about the details of pumping at work, know your rights, come prepared, and be proud of your body for the ability to provide for your baby.
That about wraps up my thoughts on pumping on the go and at work. I would love to hear your thoughts and your pumping on the go stories!! If you have any you would like to share or any other comments or concerns, please do not hesitate to leave them in the comments section! Thanks for reading!