Hi friends! Happy Tuesday.
Hope ya’ll had an incredible weekend, we certainly did over here. Along with Drew’s brother and our sister-in-law, we treated Drew’s parents to a Dell’s Family Vacation. ALL of our families had taken these trips when we were growing up, so it is SUPER fun to start the tradition with Max.
Max is a WATER baby. Which we knew from his bath times, but it was confirmed at the waterparks. He has no fear of putting his head in the water or getting completely soaked by spraying toys. I’ll never forget the joy and wonder he had at his first waterpark experience. We loved spending time with our family, and it went way too fast.
I asked, and you guys answered! Here is the FIRST post inspired by a suggestions from one of the readers! Thanks Maura! 😉 I have actually been wanting to do one like this for a while, so it was the perfect kick in the butt to do it!
Pumping at Work: Advocating for Yourself + Knowing Your Rights
Let’s be honest, lots of mamas already struggle with the adjustment of heading back to work after maternity leave and then add in having the task of finding time to pump. It breaks my heart when I hear a mama say she stopped pumping/breastfeeding because they are unsupported or worse made to feel guilty for taking the time to MAKE FOOD FOR HER BABY.
Here are my tips for making pumping at work, work:
1. Have a mantra.
If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I’m huge on positive self talk. When I returned to my nursing job after having Maxwell, this was no exception. I would often say to myself, “Amy, this is your baby’s food. He needs you to take the time to pump. You would never keep putting it off if he was hungry and right in front of you.” I worked at a very busy nursing job (have since switched to another busy nursing job), and I’m sure many of you also have demanding jobs. But, I was committed to making breastfeeding work and sometimes I needed to coach myself up in order to go take the break that I needed.
2. Know Your Rights.
I found this great article entitled, “Nursing mothers must be accommodated” written by attorney Kenneth Chang. Essentially, in Wisconsin (find information for your state!) there are LAWS that are on your side and you must be accommodated. It even specifically talks about one of my greatest concerns: “Second, flexibility is important. Employers must recognize that the number and timing of the breaks may vary based upon the baby’s nursing schedule and the mother’s health needs. The Department estimates that mothers typically need two or three breaks during an eight-hour shift, and that longer shifts would require additional breaks. Although the act of expressing breast milk typically takes about 15 to 20 minutes, employers should also consider other factors including the time it takes at their particular workplace to take care of setting up, pumping, cleaning up, and storing the milk.” SO MUCH YES TO THIS!!!!! Head over to the article to read more (you must have a place to pump that isn’t a bathroom, etc. etc).
3. Advocate for Yourself.
You are your own best advocate. It is your job to make sure that you get your rights honored. I wish for you that it wasn’t that way and that everyone could just report back that fellow employees and bosses just get it and support you. But, I know that’s not the case. My former manager literally didn’t have the right information about what the law was and there were PLENTY of nursing mamas on the floor before me. She told me I could use the allotted 30 minute lunch break (split it into two so I could pump twice), and also eat during the second one. Like no, there is no way you can do everything in that amount of time and that is NOT the law. So, you might have to provide a little education, a little literature, and hand it over with a smile.
4. What if Your Coworker is Being a Jerk?
Be prepared, be calm, be firm. Prepare a phrase that you can say when someone makes a rude comment. Maybe something like, “I’m sorry that you feel that way about me taking the time to make my baby food. The benefits of breastfeeding are very well established, if you are interested I could give you an article so you can understand why it is so important to me. I know it might be hard for you to understand, but your comments aren’t helping make this any easier.” I would TOTALLY say something like this, but I know other mamas might not feel quite as bold. Figure out something that works for you and sounds like you, but being prepared (especially if the coworkers keeps making those darn comments) to address it will make you confident when you need to speak up. If it continues to be a problem, figure out the best next steps (it is literally illegal to make breastfeeding jokes or bully a mama for pumping, so maybe you need to get HR or your manager involved if someone becomes a problem).
5. Understand You’ll Have to Roll with a few Punches.
For the most part, my unit was SO darn sweet, accommodating, and cheering me on when I got back from maternity leave. I needed to get someone to watch my patients/take my pager in order to leave the unit to pump, so it was really awesome that people stepped up and were almost always willing to do it. I specifically remember the 1 time (only ONCE, so that is AMAZING) I was denied by someone, who was doing nothing at the nurse’s station. Instead of getting frustrated with her, I just went onto the next. Don’t let a little negativity deter you from your goal. Don’t let someone’s “do you really have to pump again?!” or “believe me, you won’t make it that long…pumping gets SO old” stop you. You CAN DO THIS MAMA! I pumped at work until Max was 1! And only stopped because we are hoping to wean him so mama gets a little break between nursing babes! There are going to be bumps in the road (you’ll forget a part of your pump or have a day that it is extremely hard to fit in in), but just think of that little precious babe at home and find a way to persist on.
6. Enjoy the PUMP!
Lastly, I want to add that you should really try to ENJOY your pumping sessions. I know you might be thinking, “You are crazy Amy!” BUT, hear me out. I knew I wanted to take the time to pump, so why not make that time enjoyable?! I would listen to an audiobook, text my husband, scroll Instagram, look at pictures of my sweet babe, etc. I truly thought of it as time to myself and for the most part enjoyed taking it.
I’m going to reread this post MYSELF when our next little babe comes because I’m at a new job. Pumping in the beginning of returning to work is much more demanding than when they are older, and I’m definitely going to have to advocate for myself and be firm with myself about taking breaks to do it.
Here are my pumping supply suggestions:
Medela Freestyle Breast Pump: I love this one and some of my friends have got it and loved it too! It is nice to not have to be plugged in, you just can’t bend over because the milk will spill out.
Medela Freestyle Spare Parts Kit: I have a few sets, it makes the work weeks WAY easier to not have to clean parts every single day. AFTER way too long I realized I should keep a spare pair of parts and shields in a ziplock bag AT work in case I forgot any piece, I could still get a stress free pump in!
Simple Wishes Hands Free Breastpump Bra: Super convenient and easy. I would highly recommend this one, because you can easily adjust the size!
Washable Nursing Pads 10 Pack: I was using disposable ones for a long time, but I switched to the washable ones. Easy to wash and I feel better that I’m not making so much waste. I’ve only ever had slight leakage while using these, so I cannot vouch for how they work in the beginning (when I was soaking the whole disposable pad).
Breast Pump Bag “Kelly” by Sarah Wells : I love this pretty bag that can be worn two ways! It would be a lot more stylish than the one that comes with my pump 😉
You’ve got this mamas! No matter where you are in your journey, you have a cheerleader in me.