8 Important Things to Know When You Start Pumping at Work

Are you pumping at work? Learn the proper way to pump at work.

Breastfeeding mothers that work outside the home full time don’t have it easy! It always makes me giggle when someone makes a comment about breastfeeding being “easy,” or a “cheap” alternative to formula.

It is neither!

Women don’t breastfeed because it is the cheap or easy thing to do, they do it because it is the best nutrition for their baby.

Yes, breastfeeding can be very inexpensive, but it can also be expensive. There are pumps, pumping bottles, nursing bras, nursing tops, special scarves, and wraps for nursing mothers, specific bottles for breastfed babies, additional pump parts, milk storage bags, and so on.

So, no…breastfeeding and pumping is not a cheap alternative.

However, having said that, if you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby on demand and don’t have to worry about pumping, then yes, breastfeeding is going to be much more economical than formula.

However, many mothers do not have that luxury. I was fortunate enough that I didn’t have to return to a “real job” after my little ones were born and could pump at home. However, I was still working from home.  

Being a full time working mother and having to pump at work isn’t easy or especially fun. We do what we can to provide the best for our babies.

New mom pumping!

In this post I am going to share with you how to clean your pump parts, properly store your breastmilk at work, the best things to wear, pumping schedules, the right to breastfeed, and much more while pumping at work!

Oh, and to help you with expressing milk, getting your child used to the bottle and so much more, check out Millology’s  Ultimate Back to Work Pumping Class! It’s amazing mamas!

Cleaning Pump Parts at Work

Pumping at work and cleaning your pump parts can be a pain in the butt!

Nobody wants your nipple shield sitting next to their coffee mug (unless they are also a breastfeeding mama, then they probably won’t care). If you find it difficult to do a thorough cleaning of your pump parts at work, you have options.

The CDC recommends that each pump part be cleaned quickly after every use in a dedicated pump parts basin or dishwasher (not just any old sink), then air dried and sanitized.

While some working mamas might have that luxury, let’s get real here, when you have to squeeze in a pumping session between client calls and another long meeting, you simply don’t have time to thoroughly clean and sanitize all of your pump parts.  

If you have literally zero time to give your pump parts a good washing, toss them in a large Ziploc bag and store the bag in a refrigerator.

You can worry about properly washing and sanitizing every night when you get home (after baby snuggles of course!) This method helps to keep any residual breast milk from going bad while still on the pump parts.

If you do have the time and available space, wash your pump parts in hot soapy water.

It might be best to bring your own basin as you never know what has touched the community work sink. If you have a desk area, you can keep your pump parts there to dry so you don’t have to worry about anyone contaminating them if they are left out in a commons kitchen area.

If you don’t have your own dedicated area at work where you can leave your pump parts, ask your boss or supervisor for some advice as to the best place to store your pumping parts.

Most workplaces should have a dedicated room for pumping mothers to use, therefore you should be able to keep your pump parts in there without having to worry about nosey people touching and contaminating your pumping parts.  

How to Store Pumped Milk at Work

Every ounce of breastmilk is precious! You want to be sure you are storing it properly both at work and at home so you don’t have to worry about it going bad.

Every work site is different and every mom has access to different things within their workplace. The options from best to least optimal are freezer then fridge then a cooler with ice packs, then lastly at room temperature.

Now, many mothers will freeze their breast milk right away in order to save the milk to give to the baby’s caregiver while they are at work. Therefore, if you have access to a freezer, try and freeze your milk right away.

Your next best option is a fridge. You can either store in a refrigerator and freeze when you get home or save for the next day for your caregiver to use. Fresh pumped milk can remain stored in a fridge for three to eight days.  

Another option that many working mothers use is a cooler with some ice packs.

Now this is not ideal as it probably doesn’t stay very cold, but when your options are limited you have to make do. Lastly, you can keep fresh pumped milk stored at room temperature for four to six hours.

Here is a little breakdown of how long you can store freshly expressed breastmilk at different temperatures.

  • Room temperature = 4 to 6 hours
  • Cooler with 3 frozen ice packs = 24 hours
  • Refrigerator = 3 to 8 days
  • Self-contained refrigerator freezer = 3 to 4 months
  • Deep freeze (chest freezer) = 6 to 12 months

Breastmilk that has been previously frozen and thawed should only be stored in a fridge for up to 24 hours and used as soon as possible. Do not try and refreeze thawed breastmilk, it turns bad…very bad…

What’s the Best Pumping Schedule When You Work?

It is difficult to recommend one set schedule for pumping at work that works for every working mother as work schedules can drastically fluctuate.

However, it is recommended you pump every three hours or so in order to keep your milk production up.

For example, take a regular 8am to 5pm type of schedule.

Most women would either feed or pump right before going to work at around 7 am. They could then pump on their breaks at 10am, 12:30pm, and 3pm, then feed their baby or pump again right after work. This should mimic the natural feeding cycle of your child. 

Make sure to have a conversation with your supervisor as soon as possible about your break times to pump.

Legally speaking, they HAVE to provide you with adequate time and space to pump.

What Do You Wear to Pump at Work?

If you have to wear a uniform at work, you might not have many options as to what you can wear. It might be easier to wear a nursing or pumping tank top under your uniform to cut down on the amount of time you are spending away from work to pump.

There are a wide variety of pumping tank tops which you can wear under your work clothes or uniform to make the transition from working professional to pumping mama a bit easier.

If you do have the luxury of choosing what you can wear to work, try and wear things that are loose fitting and not restrictive.

This will help with your milk production in the long run. Wearing loose fitting tops with a pumping bra and tank top underneath will also make your transition from working to pumping and back much quicker.

It can be a pain in the butt to try and take off a tight fitting shirt when you feel like your boobs are about to burst!

The Best Breast Pump to Increase Milk Supply When You’re at Work?

Often mothers can experience a sudden drop in milk production when they return to work as their feeding and pumping schedules change.

However, there are many things you can do to help increase your milk flow while pumping at work.

First of all, make sure you are taking care of yourself!

Drink enough water, snack on lactation cookies while at work, make sure you are pumping enough, and using the right breast pump!

You want to make sure you are using a high-quality, medical grade breast pump. Many insurances  will cover the cost of a breast pump.

Particularly a dual pump with a hands free bra makes pumping so much easier!

You can simply hook yourself up and lovingly look at pictures of your little one while you pump.

Medela, which has been around for more than 50 years and is the world’s #1 recommended breast pump brand offers a wide variety of pumps to suit your needs.

When it comes to a truly amazing pump, the Medela Sonata really is a cut above the rest!

It has bluetooth technology to track your pumping sessions and two-phase expression technology to get the most milk from each pumping session. The bluetooth technology connects to an app where you can keep track of everything for your baby, from feeding sessions, pumping sessions, sleeping schedules, and diaper changes.  

The Right to Breastfeed

Let’s get technical here for a second.

“The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to provide most “non-exempt” employees with a “reasonable break time” and a private space, other than a bathroom, for the expression of breastmilk, through the child’s first birthday.”

What this means for you is that your employer must provide a private and clean space for you to pump during your work hours.

You also can not be penalized for taking longer breaks to pump, because we all know that five minutes is not a reasonable amount of time!

It is best to have an open conversation with your employer about your right to breastfeed and to make sure they are giving you the flexibility that you need to provide for your baby.

If you feel at anytime that your employer is not complying with these standards then you should

not hesitate to file a complaint with the Fair Labor Standards Act at 1-866-487-9243.

Is it Okay to Skip Pumping Sessions at Work?

This is one of those yes and no type of questions. Yes, it is ok to skip a pumping session while you are at work…once in awhile, NOT all the time.

I get it, things can get busy, meetings can run over, deadlines can be moved up. It happens. Just know that skipping a pumping session at work can lead to a reduction in your milk supply, especially if you do it on a consistent basis.

Do your best to keep on a regular pumping schedule. When you start to cut back on pumping, your body will think that your baby is weaning and will start to produce less milk. So do what you can to keep on the most consistent schedule possible.

Breastfeeding Cubicle

Breastfeeding cubicles are becoming more and more common in today’s workplaces as well as in public areas like airports and concerts.

There are many options for employers to help provide privacy to their breastfeeding employees if they are unable to provide a dedicated room. Everything from inflatable and portable popup type tents to portable entire rooms with electricity.

It is important to be aware of your rights as a breastfeeding mother and employee.

Don’t hesitate to talk with your employer about your rights and what you need, within reason, to be able to pump at work.

If you are not comfortable speaking with your direct supervisor, connect with the human resources personnel to make sure you are being provided with the proper resources.  

There Ya Go!

Breastfeeding and pumping for many moms is an important choice they choose. When you work out of the home figuring out how to pump while at work doesn’t have to be hard, challenging or discouraged.

There is a way and I hope this post gives you tips and help to pump at work!

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Hi there Elna! Thanks a lot for sharing all these things because this will really come in handy. I will share this to my friends who are working moms so they can learn from this too.Reply to Khayrie
Hi! That’s awesome! Thank you so much for sharing the post!Reply to Elna