Monday, December 17, 2012

Breast Feeding: Pumping at Work

If you're breast feeding and returning to work soon, you are probably considering pumping at work. I wanted to write a post about my experience with this.

Some women will stop breast feeding before returning to work due to concerns about being able to pump at work. Many people may not know this, but your employer (if they employ 50 or more individuals) is required to allow lactation breaks. If you are looking for details on the federal law, please check the links here and here to learn more. You should be given a morning and afternoon break (your employer is not required to pay you for this break) in a private place. A bathroom is not acceptable, according to the law, so be aware of that.

It is recommended to pump every two or three hours to keep your supply up. I share a lactation room at work with four other women. We each have our own time slot, and we have to work around each other.

Here are the times that I typically pump:
    7:30am    (while driving to work)
    10:30am  (in the lactation room)
    1:30pm    (in the lactation room)
    4:30pm    (while driving home)

Typically people would pump before leaving home in the morning, at 9:00am, 12:00pm, 3:00pm and again at home. Because I am sharing the room with women that had their schedules set already, I moved mine around and it is working out very well.

a glance inside the fridge in our lactation room

Now I've wondered myself, what would happen if I missed a session? A few things. You would be uncomfortable (read: OUCH!). You may leak and have an embarrassing moment at work. Your next pumping session would result in more milk than normal, but probably not the same amount as two typical pumping sessions combined. If you do this two days in a row, you may start to see your supply drop. It's all about supply and demand. You need to keep up the "demand" by pumping, or your body will adjust and the "supply" will decrease to match the demand. Keep this in mind when you think you're too busy to take a break to pump.

What should you do at work to improve your supply? You can do your research, and find a whole list of recommendations. Try things out, find out what works best for you. There is mother's milk tea, fenugreek, lactation cookies, the list goes on and on. Here's what works for me: drink plenty of water, get enough sleep at night, eat every couple of hours. If I let any of those three things slip, I can always see it show up in my supply. I try to drink 32 ounces of water by lunch time. If I don't drink any water (maybe coffee only), I will see about 50% less milk that morning. This is not an exaggeration, this actually happened to me this morning. Just be careful. Pay attention to your output, and notice what helps your supply.

this may or may not be your new logo

In a separate post (found here), you can read about pumping while driving. Pumping while driving may be a huge help to you. 

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