Despite strong recommendations from the World Health Organization, AAP, ACOG, CDC, and Susan down the hall who thought about going to medical school when she was a kid, breastfeeding is complicated. Support for moms - from the medical community, social communities, extended family, and workplaces - is inconsistent and difficult to navigate (especially when a parent is trying to find help immediately). 60% of US women don’t meet their own breastfeeding goals. The rate of breastfeeding drops most in the first 3 months. The theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2023 was Enabling Breastfeeding: Making a Difference for Working Parents.
As you continue your lactation journey at work, consider:
While I'm generally a fan of supportive services instead of more stuff, having enough (or extras) of the right pumping accessories is an area I don't think you should skimp on. The benefits - better milk-making workflow & time savings - just seem greater than a baby toy or blanket.
- You need a good breast pump. There are more options in the last few years and other good articles that can help you decide what will work best for you.
- My pro tip: If you can keep a pumping station set up (or stored) at your workplace, and have an extra at home or for travel, you'll reduce your logistics...and risk of discovering a missing piece at 10am Wednesday when you have a 15 minute window to pump.
- On that note, order an extra set of parts - tubes, flanges, valves, etc. This gives you the flexibility to store a set at work, have a back-up if something breaks, or just have a clean set ready to go for the day everyone was too tired to do the dishes.
- You wouldn’t run a marathon in ill-fitting shoes, would you? So don’t pump with the wrong flange size. Spectra offers a fitting process guide and you can download a free nipple ruler from Legendairy Milk.
- Make sure you have clothes that work for pumping & your workplace. Ideally at least 6 outfits/tops (if you are working a 5 day week). Consider keeping a wrap/tunic in your pump-space in case you need to bare your top half and get chilly.
- Keep snacks & water everywhere, in every bag, in "secret" drawers.
Continuing your breastfeeding journey while working away from your baby takes a lot of time. It's easy to fall behind (give yourself some grace when this happens), but missing multiple pump sessions or getting too off schedule can affect your supply.
- Block pump time on your calendar. This will change over time (for example, many go from 3 sessions down to 2 at some point), and you may adjust the actual amount of time you need (20 min v. 40 min). Having the reserved time blocked helps keep you on track with your breastfeeding goals & provides clarity to your colleagues (they can see you're not available).
- Consider how your childcare fits in - will you feed your baby before heading to work? Get to work early and pump right away? Try to pick up your baby in the afternoon before a feed to avoid one last pump session? This routine will change as you go as well; think through a starting point and build a good communication foundation with your childcare provider.
- If you are a few weeks in and feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and a deep breath. The first year with a baby is A LOT.
- If you are looking for some external assistance, my friend Jenna at First Light Productivity is offering a 3-hour virtual workshop sharing a framework to get control of your calendar, conquer your to-do list, and crush your goals without sacrificing your health or your most important relationships. If interested, use code POPINSFIFTY to save $50 when you sign up.
Private. Secure. Not a Bathroom.
- Know where you'll be pumping on a typical workday.
- Consider how long it will take you to get to the space, set up, pump, clean up, and get back to where you're working.
- Know where you'll store your milk - is there a fridge in the space? A common fridge? A travel cooler?
- Is the space easily & consistently accessible?
- Need to find a space while you're out and about? The Mamava app includes thousands of places to pump or nurse that are NOT bathrooms (including, but not limited to, Mamava pods).
- Road warriors: check out MilkStork’s checklist for when you need to travel with breastmilk. Milk Stork products & services are easy to select based on your traveling situation.
Interested in personalized support or an assessment of your workplace lactation space?
Reach out to Popins to learn how we can work with you & your employer.
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