Knowing that he is getting exactly what he needs from me nutritionally helps every time I'm in my pumping room (it's a glorified walk-in closet with a folding table and chair) at work. Here are a few tips that helped me when I started back at work and continue to help me today.
- Alert your employer about your intentions before you go on maternity leave. It's an awkward conversation worth having. I let my superiors and HR know that I planned to pump upon my return. I came back to having a private room to pump in and was able to use it the day I returned. I even have my own key so I can come and go as needed.
- Know the law. Despite your views on Obama's health care reform, it has been a benefit for nursing mamas returning to work. There is now a law saying that most employers must provide you with a private place to pump that cannot be a bathroom. For more information, click here. As I understand it, this law doesn't apply to teachers. I don't get that part at all. But I could be wrong. Feel free to correct me in the comments.
- Practice, practice, practice! Make sure you're familiar with your pump before it's show time. You may even want to do a trial run and pump when you would pump at work. This really helped a friend of mine who is a teacher. Her body got used to pumping at a similar time each day. It also helps build up a supply of milk to fall back on if needed. I think that this will help you avoid any potential issues on your first days back. That being said...
- Prepare for the unexpected. I always make sure I have extra membranes and breastmilk storage bags (for when the bottle runneth over). I carry fenugreek supplements in my purse and keep Mothers Milk herbal tea in my desk for days that my supply feels low.
- Have the proper equipment. I use a hands free pumping bra and love hands free pumping. This also allows me to look at photos and videos of E on my phone. It helps me relax and I swear that I let down more frequently because of it. Make sure to have a photo of your nursling. It's something cute to look at while you pump.
- People are nosy. Make sure you have a sign on the door that alerts people to the fact that you're pumping and not to enter. It may seem like a no brainer, but I got walked in on twice during my first few weeks back. Luckily, I was setting up or cleaning up both times so I wasn't exposed. I now put a hot pink sticky note on the door that says "Room In Use" and haven't had any incidents since.
- Know that you're not alone. I'm the only one at my office that uses the pumping room. I'm also the first one in a few years to do it. There are lots of blogs and online support groups if you don't know anyone else who is a pumping mom. If you need more motivation or inspiration, check out this article on a military mom's pumping story. She is one bad ass mother! I found this article on balancing work and baby helpful too.
[Edit] I got clarification tonight on the pumping law for employers. It applies to non-exempt employees only. Typically non-exempt employees are paid hourly and exempt employees are salaried. Talk to your HR department for more info.
It's also handy to know of a local place that carries pump parts in an absolute pinch. I once forgot my power cord at home (yes, really!) but luckily a friend with the same pump lived close by and I was able to borrow hers for the day. I thanked her profusely in behalf of my child and full breasts.
Be prepared for questions. If someone sees me going into or out of my pumping room, I often get asked, "What do you do in there?" Frankly, it's none of their business and I don't want to have to explain myself. I usually respond with, "You don't want to know." I tell them what I do only if pressed. Usually the asker is male and embarrassed after I explain that I am still nursing my son and need to pump while at work.
If you are a full time pumping mom, you are a ROCK STAR in my eyes! Do you have any tips that have helped you pump?