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How to Pump Breastmilk at Work

Get the Most Milk From Your Limited Break Time


The previous page covers the basics of learning pumping breastmilk. Now, here's how to pump breastmilk at work.

Nurse at Lunchtime

Once you return to work, nursing is the best way to keep stimulating your breasts to produce milk.

If you can negotiate flexible hours or work from home with a babysitter -- even one or two days a week -- you're in luck. Make the work-from-home day a Wednesday, if possible, to give your milk production a mid-week boost. Just don't tell your colleagues you were nursing when you wrote them an email.

If your child care is close to your office, stop by on your lunch break to nurse your baby. Make sure your child's caregivers understand not to feed her in the late morning so she'll be hungry when you arrive. Even better, ask them to call you when she seems ready to feed, and you can rush over for a nursing session.

Figure Out Where and When to Pump

When and where you pump depends largely on your work setup. Check your state laws regarding expressing breast milk. Many states require employers to provide break time and a private location for pumping. Talk to your human resources representative or manager about logistics.

If your employer has a lactation room, feel free to decorate it with pictures of your child. The imagery may stimulate your breasts to let down more quickly. I pumped in the computer server room -- perhaps my girls will be drawn to a career in information technology.

If you have a private office, you can simply close the door to pump. This is the easiest scenario for fitting in three or four sessions in a day. But I also know of a mom who works in a cubicle farm and pumps under a large shawl without anyone noticing.

Adjust your attitude about pumping to fit your workplace culture and attitudes toward mothers. One mom put a picture of a cow on her door while pumping, so nobody interrupted her. Another simply pumped with her back to the door, in case anybody poked a head in to see if she was there.

Experiment to Find the Best Pumping Schedule

Lactation consultants recommend that you pump once for every feeding your baby has while you're apart. For most moms, that means three or four times during a workday.

Before you panic, remember, this is just a rule. It doesn't apply to everyone. All our bodies are different, and respond differently to the breast pump.

If you can take three or four breaks during the day, start with that. See how much milk you get. If you can take only one or two breaks, that'll have to be good enough. I found that I got only 1 or 2 ounces more from three pumping sessions than from two, and the extra hassle wasn't worth it.

Believe it or not, some moms who commute by car actually pump behind the wheel. I'm not sure I could recommend this, but if you try it, be sure to have your seatbelt on and the pump hooked up before you put the car in drive. And be careful!

The next page describes specific techniques for boosting your milk production. Read on!
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