How to Manage Breastfeeding While Working

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One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to return to work after your baby is born.  You don’t want to miss a single second or milestone.  While this is a guilt that every working parent faces, it is even harder for breastfeeding mothers.  This is because breastfeeding has a direct chemical link to your brain that gives you the overwhelming need to feed your child.

 Breastfeeding is an important part of your child’s life so you should never feel like you are not doing your job correctly because you need to either pump or breastfeed.  Try to stay vigilant to not give up when it comes to breastfeeding either.  While it may be hard and even embarrassing at times, it is necessary.  Remember, you are your child’s champion so if there is something at work that is preventing you for doing this, you have every right to speak up!

While women have a lot more options when it comes to knowing how to manage breastfeeding while working, it doesn’t make it an easier.  The most important thing to know is that as a parent, you have every right to breastfeed.  The more you know about your state’s laws as well as the rules of the company you are working for, the better shape you will be in.  Just remember, that while it may seem like a hassle, this is a sacrifice you are making for your child and their health.  So before your head starts to spin, relax.  Here is how to manage breastfeeding while working. 

Knows your rights

The first thing to know when it comes to learning how to manage breastfeeding while working is what your rights are as a mother.  Luckily for you, there are laws that now protect you as a breastfeeding mother.  In 2010 a law passed that was specifically meant to protect breastfeeding mothers knowing as the “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law.  This law states that your employer is legally obligated to allow you special times throughout for shift for you to use a breast pump, but it doesn’t stop there!

This break is paid time.  This means that you cannot be punished of docked pay for taking a breast pumping break.  Your place of work is also legally obligated to provide you with private space to use your breast pump.  A private place means that you will have a place to comfortable sit without worrying about people interrupting you, so no bathrooms!  Some employers are more accommodating than others as you hear stories about managers allowing breastfeeding mothers to use their offices as a private space. 

This time is also supposed to be free of work.  It is important for breastfeeding mothers to be comfortable and without stress with trying to use a breast pump.  So when you are taking a breast pumping break, do not feel obligated or pressured to do work during this time.  It should also be noted that this law has been implemented across all 50 states, so do not let anyone tell you otherwise.  It is important to remember that this is the food your child is going to eat, so in no way should you feel guilty for taking these extra breaks because your child’s health is more important than anything else.

Make a routine

If you are nervous about having to use a breast pump at work, don’t worry.  You are not alone.  It feels weird because breastfeeding has been known as such a private thing.  But, why is that?  All you are doing is simply feeding your child which is the most important part of their development and health.  So why do we feel the need to hide it?  The reason for the breastfeeding shame is because the way society has made it such a private matter.  There is no surprise that women feel like they have to hide in a hot car or in a room no bigger than a closet out in public when feeding their child.  While there is no easy solution to the breastfeeding embarrassment, there are ways to make it easier on you.

Making a routine is a great thing when it comes to how to manage breastfeeding while working.  This means that you should try to stick with what you do at home when even at work.  If you find that you feed your child every two hours on the hour, try to implement the same routine when it comes to using a breast pump at work.  This will do more than just relax you when the time for pumping comes.  Having a routine that regularly allows you to pump will do wonders for your milk production.

Many women who are pumping while at work find that while they were able to produce bottles and bottles of breast milk at home, the well doesn’t seem to flow as much when they are at work.  This could be because of a few different things.  One main reason is that your body’s schedule may be off a little bit.  To try to avoid this, pump often so that your body can adjust to this change.

How to produce more milk at work

One of the most frustrating things that women go through when trying to learn how to manage breastfeeding while working, is finding that they are not producing as much milk as they were before. This can be because there is no real connection between you and your breast pump.  Something chemical happens in a woman’s brain when she is breastfeeding her child directly.  It is the overwhelming urge to want to feed your child which has a lot to do with hormones.  These hormones are what allow you to produce milk.  So there is no surprise that it can be harder to get the milk flowing when you’re hooked up to a pump. 

While sticking to a routine is a great way how to manage breastfeeding while working, there are other things you can do.  One way is to make you as comfortable as possible.  Don’t worry too much about finding a comfortable and private space, because your job should absolutely provide this for you.  Try to surround yourself with familiar things in order to keep you on your toes.  One thing that many mothers do is bring a piece of their baby’s clothing with them or a blanket.  The scent of your child should be enough to help you relax and pump more successfully.  You can also try shutting your mind off with some relaxing music or a book.  If you are not using a hands free pump, try downloading your favorite audio book and then let your mind wander.

We live in a day and age where technology is at its best.  So why not use this technology to help you pump while at work?  If your child is at daycare or staying with a family member while you are at work, ask them if you can set up phone calls or video calls when you are trying to pump.  Being able to see and hear your child while you are pumping allows you to feel that human connection and can help you feel more like a mother and less of a machine.  It is also important to remember not to get frustrated.  The more stressed and worried you get about wasting your breastfeeding break time, the less likely you are to have a successful pumping session.

Bring the essentials

You may think that just because you are going to work without your child that you can pack light.  Unfortunately it takes just as much packing and planning to be a breastfeeding mom at work.  Make it easier on yourself my packing a bag of breastfeeding essentials that are ready to go with you to work each and every day.  The first thing you should have with you is your trusty breast pump.  There are hundreds of breast pumps to choose from, all ranging in price. 

While each has something unique to offer, use the breast pump you feel most comfortable with.  Try to find one that is automatic instead of a manual one.  Using a manual pump might make you more stressed out which is the last thing you would want. If you are having hard time producing milk at work, talk to your doctor to see if they can get a pump for you.  Many doctor’s office will work with insurance plans that will allow you to borrow or rent a pump from a local hospital.  These pumps are medical grade pieces of machines that get the job done and do it quickly.

You also need to make sure that you are bringing a small cooler and storage system with you for the milk.  Try using storage bags instead of bottles because these take up far less space and are easier to label.  The cooler, with ice packs, will help to keep the milk fresh until you are able to store them at home in your freezer.  If you do not have an insulated cooler, ask your work to see if they can provide you a space in a refrigerator for you to store your milk.  Just make sure to clearly label it so no one feels tempted to use your breast milk in their coffee!

Accidents are going to happen, so bring a change of clothes.  Leaking is a real thing and it can be extremely embarrassing for any woman.  Always pack a couple pairs of loose fitting tops so that you can be sure to have a fresh shirt if you need it.  To avoid leaks, you should also invest in a box of nipple pads.  While these are not the most attractive thing to wear in your bra, they will help to absorb any leaks to that you can save yourself some embarrassment.

Always bring extra snacks.  Breastfeeding is hard work and it takes a lot of energy so make sure to keep yourself full so that you can easily return to work after pumping.  When learning how to manage breastfeeding while working, you need to learn to first take care of yourself.  Avoid anything that is too high in sugars because you will find that the inevitable crash may come when you are at your must productive.

Skip the caffeine

After giving birth, many women fantasize about the getting to finally drink as much coffee as they want to again.  However, if you are breastfeeding, you still need to limit your caffeine intake.  This can be really hard to do, especially when going to work after a night of late night feedings.  Try to keep your intake to two cups of caffeine a day.  This includes coffee, teas and soda.  Also, avoid energy drinks that are loaded in sugars and fillers.  Instead opt for some mother’s milk tea.  This spicy tea will help to naturally wake you up while also helping you to produce more milk.

The same can be said for snack time.  Try to indulge in snacks that are high in antioxidants.  A popular treat for breastfeeding mothers is oatmeal cookies with dark chocolate.  Both oatmeal and dark chocolate are high in antioxidants and have been known to help with breast milk production.  Not only are you helping your milk come in a little faster, you are getting a really yummy snack too!

Lunch is the time for you to refuel and set yourself up for the second half of a successful work day.  So skip the fast food and do some meal prepping instead.  This doesn’t mean you have to diet.  In fact, your body needs those extra calories.  It is important, however, to keep the meals rich and full of substance so that your baby is getting proper nutrients.  Fill your box with while grain pastas, rich proteins, fresh fruit and crunchy veggies.  When you have food that is high in protein and nutrients, you can eat more which will not only help to keep you full but will help with milk production as well.

Have no fear

There is a reason that mothers are known to be fearless.  This is because they will do anything they need to do to ensure that their child grows up strong and healthy.  So have no fear when you are trying to learn how to manage breastfeeding while working.  If there is something that you need to help you breastfeed or use a breast pump at work, ask for it.  There is no shame in wanting to change something that isn’t working for you.  If you find that your work is no providing the help you need, speak up!  Breastfeeding is so important and it isn’t something that you want to mess around with.

This is especially true when it comes to having a safe and quiet place to breastfeed.  Your work is required, by law, to provide you this space so hold them accountable.  Another resource you have when breastfeeding at work is your doctor.  If you are finding that you are having a hard time producing milk for whatever reason at work, see if your doctor can help you.  They will be able to offer you some advice and guidance so that you can pump like a pro. 

While using a breast pump at work is the main way that women can continue to breastfeed while working, it isn’t the only way.  Some women are lucky enough to have a day care located right in their place of business.  If you are one of these lucky women, don’t be afraid to ask if you can leave at any given time to feed your child.  Make sure to coordinate with the daycare so that you can plan your breast pumping breaks around your baby’s schedule.  It is so much easier to be able to breastfeed your child if you are allowed to rather than pumping.  Also, if your child is nearby your work, see if you can sneak away with permission to feed your child during your lunch break.  The more chances you get to breastfeed your child in person the more you are able to bond and connect with your baby which will greatly improve your milk production.

Final Thoughts

When you know how to manage breastfeeding while working, you have won half the battle.  There are so many laws and regulations in place that are there to help women like you, so take advantage of it.  Don’t be afraid to ask for the things that are due to you.  While being away from your child is hard, there is no shame in being a working mother.  It is possible for you to have a successful career and still be a successful mom.  Knowing that you want to continue to breastfeed your child while even at work proves just that.  If you ever find that your work is not holding up their end of the bargain, hold them accountable.  Take care and good luck.

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