This is a partnered post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are those of the writer.
National Cheesecake Day, National Sisters Day — these are two days that I’m happy to celebrate. But when something gets an entire week, you know it must be important.
August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and it falls at the same time I’m preparing to go back to work after having a baby earlier in the year. Balancing work and family is a unique challenge when you’re a nursing mother.
With this being my third baby, I’ve got a pretty good routine down for pumping at work. It’s a commitment, but one that I am willing and physically able to make.
How to Be Successful Pumping at Work
Know Your Rights: Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, mothers should be given reasonable time to express milk for up to one year in a private place, that is not a restroom. It’s important for you to be familiar with your rights, in case you need to politely remind your employer that you have them. I like to stick with the “you attract more bees with honey” mentality, but I take feeding my infant pretty seriously. Those mama bear instincts, I guess!
Most days I locked my doors, closed the blinds, and positioned myself in a place where if someone magically entered the room, I’d have three seconds to move. Other days, I had to sneak into the server room in the computer lab.
Find Your Support Team: As a teacher, I needed to recruit help on the occasions when the schedule changed and didn’t include time for me to pump. I found a few people who would cover for me when I needed them. I made sure I paid them back with lattes and avocados from my tree. Although none of my coworkers are currently nursing, many can relate. It also helped that my friends and sister have new babies also. So when I get pictures like this one of my sister pumping at work, it reminds me that I can do it too.
Make Pumping a Priority: With my 2nd child, this is a mistake I made. I would allow pumping to be postponed, and ultimately found myself not being able to produce enough milk. So then I started subsiding with formula. That started a downward spiral that ultimately resulted in switching to formula exclusively before I was ready.
It’s challenging to turn off work while you’re there. I get that. But if my baby were at work with me, would I not stop to feed her if she were hungry? Of course, I would. So when it’s time to pump, work stops. And, guess what, I’m a better employee when I’m not riddled with mom guilt.
Keep it Cold: If you have space for a mini-fridge, rejoice because that is incredible. But for most of us, we are stuck using a community kitchen. I’m not thrilled about the idea of people shoving around my milk as they grab for their leftovers. And, to be honest, I don’t think my coworkers would be thrilled either. So I store milk in a cooler bag inside the fridge. It’s more discreet and keeps milk cold on the drive home. That way no one is accidentally using breast milk to flavor their morning cup of coffee.
Keep the Girls Happy: As glorious as it is to be hooked up to a milking machine in a corner, breast pumps aren’t always so gentle. To soothe sore breasts from pumping, try a nipple cream. As an Earth Mama ambassador, I received their Natural Nipple Butter. Because it’s certified gmo-free and organic, I don’t have to worry about it putting toxic anything in my baby. It’s perfect for soothing as you adjust to nursing, for pumping, or when your little vampire thinks you’re her teething toy. It’s safe for everybody, so there’s no need to wash it off before nursing. Plus, it feels pretty fantastic anywhere your skin might need a little loving, like dry lips or elbows.
I know how fortunate I am that nursing has been successful for me and my children. I attribute a lot of that to being able to find the right support when I needed it, whether that be from mamas in my life or lactation consultants. For all you nursing mamas out there, I invite you to share how were you successful at breastfeeding while working!