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Planning for Pumping At Work
Work-Life Well-Being

Planning for Pumping At Work

Pumping and work. Not always the easiest, most comfortable merger, but not only is it completely natural, it happens every day. But when it’s your turn to navigate, it becomes personal. Thank you, Mommy's Bliss 360 expert and Career Coach, Becca Carnahan, for providing must-needed logistical answers. Read on to find out how this mingling can work. It’s doable, solvable, and, above all, it’s your right as a new mom. You CAN do it all.

As you plan to return to the office after parental leave, you are carrying a heavy mental load. There’s a lot to think about, including childcare needs and costs, work schedules, and getting enough sleep to make it all happen.

Let’s break down one major return-to-work stressor, planning for pumping at work, to help you navigate this transition into working motherhood like a pro. From knowing your rights as a breastfeeding employee to managing the home-to-office logistics, we have you covered.

Research Your Rights

First, empower yourself by knowing your rights! Did you know that under the PUMP Act, signed into federal law in December 2022, your rights to pump breast milk while at work are protected? The law also requires that you have a reasonable amount of time and a private place, other than a bathroom, for pumping. Check out the full details of the law on the U.S. Department of Labor website.

Research your state laws as well. In addition to protections from the PUMP Act, there may be broader protections offered by your state, including pumping rights beyond one year or compensated breaks.

Knowing your rights as a breastfeeding employee will help you have informed conversations with your employer and boost your confidence, knowing that you are protected by law.

Get to Know Your Company’s Facilities

Now that you know that for most breastfeeding employees, businesses are required to provide both break time and a private place to pump, get to know the facilities available to you.

Some companies will have a separate lactation room on site with a refrigerator, sink, chair, and pump (you’ll bring your own pump parts to hook up.) This is the ideal scenario! Advocating for this type of space is beneficial to you and to future breastfeeding employees, so don’t hesitate to speak up and make the request.

If a dedicated lactation room is not available, ask your manager or fellow breastfeeding colleagues what facilities are available for use and if there is a process for reserving that space. Having a plan about where you’ll pump and store breast milk will help ease your concerns for day one.

Buy Your Ideal Breast Pump

For many nursing employees, planning for pumping at work is also planning for pumping in general. If you’ve been exclusively breastfeeding your baby up to this point, you’ll be in the market for a great breast pump that meets your needs.

Many brands of breast pumps are available through your health insurance, and you can research options on your health plan's website. You can also find a list of the best breast pumps for comfort, commuting, quick cleaning, and quiet conference calling here.

In addition to your breast pump, also stock up on nursing/pumping bras, a great water bottle to keep you hydrated, breastmilk storage bags for easy storage and travel, and an insulated bag to easily transport supplies to and from the office.

Make a Plan for Pumping Breaks

As any breastfeeding parent knows, pumping breast milk is not a “whenever there is time” activity. You need to set aside regular time for yourself to pump in order to continue producing the breast milk your baby needs and to keep yourself comfortable.

If you’re working in an office setting, establish blocks on your calendar so that meetings are not scheduled over your pumping times. A hands-free pump can allow you to respond to emails or do other solo work during your pumping breaks so you can stay on track without the stress.

If you have less control over your calendar, speak with your manager about when you’ll be taking breaks and for what duration so that expectations are clear. Remember, you are coming into this conversation knowing your rights, so if your manager pushes back, be prepared to educate him or her. It may be that your manager simply hasn’t worked with a breastfeeding employee before or is not familiar with the new laws.

Pack Extra Clothes

It’s not worth crying over spilled milk, except for when that spilled milk is 4 ounces of breast milk or a leak on your shirt before a big meeting. In those situations, tears are definitely understandable!

In addition to packing your pump supplies and extra water and snacks, prepare yourself for pumping at work by bringing an extra outfit to store in your bag or at the office. Spills and leaks happen, so keeping an extra bra, shirt, and pants on hand will save the day when things go array.

Bonus - this practice of packing extra clothes will be helpful when your baby starts eating solid food and growing into a sticky toddler! (Ask me and my pants covered in chocolate-covered raisins how I know.) You won’t need extra clothes forever, but for this age and stage, it’s better to be safe than wet and sorry.

This site is intended for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Please consult your physician or other health-care professional.

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