Pumping at your office can be a challenge to get used to. You spend your entire career trying to make sure you look professional and somewhat conservative (depending on your workplace) but all of a sudden you have Pam Anderson boobies that can hardly be contained AND you’re expected to whip ‘em out with your co-workers mere steps away. I mean, you can HEAR THEM talking outside your door.
When I first returned to work, I had one co-worker (male, in his 50s) who seemed to try making a point that I was being “rude” by closing my door for two hours out of the day. He CONSTANTLY came knocking while I was pumping. I would say things like, “Can’t talk right now” or “I’ll find you in a bit,” but I honestly think he had NO IDEA what was going on behind those closed doors. If he did, he’d probably be embarrassed.
Someone suggested I put up a sign. A sign? Really? Not for me. What’s it going to say? “Milking in process!” Of course I could go with a simple “Do Not Disturb” but isn’t that what is meant by a CLOSED DOOR in the first place? Maybe I should put a sock on the handle, like it’s a college dorm room.
Anyway, most co-workers now “get it” and leave me be…except for the time the window washer popped his head up outside my window and probably got a good $50 peep show. To help make your pumping life a little bit easier here are some pointers that work for me.
My tips for pumping in the office are simple.
1) It is a LAW that your workplace provide you a reasonable break time and a private, non-bathroom place to express breast milk during the workday, for one year after the child’s birth. If you don’t have your own office, this may be a “Mother’s Room” or an empty office, regardless it’s someplace PRIVATE. If you do have an office – LUCKY YOU!
2) Purchase a second set of your pump attachments. I didn’t do this until I’d been back at work for almost a month. I lived in constant fear that I’d forget a flange, valve, adapter or some other necessary piece. To alleviate my fears, I just bought a second set for about $30. (Side Note: Most kits come in size “Medium” which didn’t work for me. A “Large” is MUCH more comfortable. A Lactation Consultant can help you find your size. Add the extra parts to your baby shower gift registry! If you have the wrong size, you can always trade them in.)
3) Get a drying tray. After my morning pumping session I rinse everything and put it on the tray to dry.
4) Steam bags are your friend! I discovered these accidentally as I strolled through the aisles of Target. One Medela Steam Bag can clean your parts up to 20 times and it only takes three minutes in the microwave. SO MUCH EASIER than trying to clean everything on your own. Now I never worry about my parts being sanitary. At the end of my workday I steam clean and put all my parts to dry on my drying tray.
5) Keep spare storage bags around. I have two extra boxes in my office cupboard and a couple “emergency” bags in my pump case. You do NOT want to be caught pumping with nowhere to stash it!
6) Tell your work BFF what you’re doing. If she’s a female, and knew you were pregnant (duh!), she probably already knows what’s going on. She can help divert people away while you spend quality time with your pump.
7) Get some ice packs for your storage bag. You can store breast milk at room temperature for up to 8 hours (a standard work day, minus commuting) or in an insulated bag with ice packs for up to 24 hours. I use ice packs every day. This way I don’t have to store my milk in the shared office fridge.
8) Bring baby along! OK, not really. But have lots of photos. Apparently it helps with your “let down reflex” but I just like to see my cutie pa-tootie all day. I got one of those digital frames for Mother’s Day. Awesome!
9) Get an acronym. The first few times I tried leaving the house with baby, pump, work stuff, work out clothes, etc. – I ALWAYS forgot something. I came up with B.I.M.P. to help me remember the vitals = Bags (for storage), Ice (packs), Milk (to leave at daycare) and Pump.
10) DON’T FORGET the bustier. Hands-free pumping at its finest. You may feel like more of a machine than a mommy, but that feeling will pass!
What about you, mamas? Do you pump at work? Got any tips OR GOOD STORIES? Maybe tell us what the sign on your door says!