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Pregnancy, birth, and maternity leave are a whirlwind. These experiences are fun, and absorbing. Eventually for many moms though maternity leave will come to an end and returning to work can become a source of stress. However, there are things that you can do to prepare for returning to work and make pumping more comfortable.
In this post we’ve collected actionable tips from moms who have been in the lactation rooms to help inspire and support mothers like you!
When you speak to your employer about maternity leave, this is a great time to talk with them about their lactation spaces and policies. Having this conversation now gives you time to prepare, ask your questions ahead of time, and takes a great deal of pressure off of you when the time comes to hook up your pump.
Know that pumping in the workplace is your legal right. Employers are required to provide you with a space to pump, and to establish policies that protect lactating mothers and this labor of love that we undertake.
When speaking to your employer, ask them to show you the lactation space.This could be as simple as asking HR or a co-worker to send you a photo. Being able to envision this space when you’re on maternity leave is helpful. When you’re packing your pump bag you’ll know how much space you have, how comfortable it is, and how private it is. These pieces of information will help to inform how you pack your bag and what you might want to bring. Healthy Horizons can help your employer upgrade the lactation room so you have the best possible pumping at work experience!
Having a support group can make a world of difference when you are doing something that takes as much time and energy as pumping. There might have been other women in your office that have pumped before you, or who are also pumping at the same time. Moms are the world’s best cheerleaders. If they know someone is pumping, they’ll cheer you on and ask what they can do to support you. If you have trouble finding people who have pumped in your office, we are happy to help.
Pumping in the office means lugging your pump and other accessories back and forth. Figuring out the right set up for you ahead of time can help cut down on what you need to bring and make each pump session more efficient.
The saying “time is money” hits home for pumping moms. Current legislation requires employers to allow moms to pump, depending on your location your time can be compensated or uncompensated. This time away from the desk can also make life a bit more hectic. Efficiency helps tremendously. Certain accessories can help save time and cut down on the amount of work involved in pumping.
Your pump will likely come with a few extra parts, and different sized flanges. But you are not limited to these. There is a world of pump parts and accessories out there. The trick is being able to try these various bits and baubles to see what works best for you. Practicing before returning to work might show you that the flanges included with your pump are not the optimal size, or maybe cause friction which might restrict your milk flow. Adding BeauGen Cushions can make a world of difference in this case. They help many moms find the perfect fit with their pump and for other moms they act as a protective barrier against the hard plastic flanges. Once you find what works for you, it's time to stock up and save...meaning save time.
Thinking about pumping before you go on maternity leave helps you prepare to wrap up each pump session as well. Take a look at your storage options before leaving the office. Do you have access to a refrigerator? Do you feel comfortable leaving your breast milk in a company refrigerator?
If you can’t or don’t feel comfortable storing your milk in the company kitchen space, there are other storage options available. You can use a lunch box with freezer packs at your desk, or use a cold storage bottle for prolonged storage. Knowing what these options are ahead of time also helps you watch for and take advantage of sales!
Not all pumping bras are the same. In fact there are pretty big differences. Some nursing bras double as pumping bras. Other bras are more band-like and require you to take down a nursing bra or undress a bit. Gaining access to your office’s lactation space before going on maternity leave will help you choose the right nursing bra. If you don’t feel comfortable switching bras, there are some options that are designed for all day wear.
Let downs typically are triggered by your baby suckling, or by physical proximity to your baby. When you’re at work, Baby is not with you. This means we have to find other ways to stimulate our let down reflex. For some moms, having photos and videos of their baby helps. Other moms find inspirational quotes or reminders of their why helpful.
There are other tools you can leverage to help stimulate your let down. Massagers like hand rollers, heat, or even a massaging pumping bra can help encourage your milk ejection reflex and make your pumping session more comfortable. Click here to learn more or book a Lactation Consultation here to learn about let downs, encouraging a second let down, and more!
Doing anything for the first few times can be challenging. It takes some time and grade to figure out what settings work best for your body. Like what flange size(s) you need and feeling comfortable with this experience. Even if you plan to exclusively chest/breastfeed until returning to work, it is a great idea to spend some time with your pump.
Pumping between feedings can give you a bit extra stashed away in the freezer. This can alleviate stress about having enough of a supply to give to your childcare provider, see you through dips in your supply which can happen for a variety of reasons, and give you some extra for milk baths, bug bites, and more!
Guest Post By BeauGen & Healthy Horizons