Pumping and working- what's the reality? — The Bump
Breastfeeding

Pumping and working- what's the reality?

Hi ladies- I'm very newly pregnant and have also been offered a possible new position at my office.  I'm currently in a 6 week trial period to see how it all goes and see if everyone thinks we are a good fit for the other.

I have some concerns about how my pregnancy would go in this department and how long I'll be able to be out on maternity leave for because of how busy they are.

I also just thought about something this morning and that was after baby is here and me wanting to continue to breastfeed or use breast milk as much as possible.

I know you can freeze breastmilk but I also know that the environment has to be just right for you to continue to produce enough breastmilk when you get back to work.  I also know that when you are just feeding at home you maybe won't necessarily be able to just produces super excessive amounts of breast milk to freeze.

So I'm in a pickle.  One of my new mom friends says she barely gets anything now that she is pumping and working full time when she pumps at work and her little one is 4 months old now.  

I know she also said in an ideal world she'd like to have about 30 minutes for a pumping break at work and i know that getting 2 30 minute breaks in my day is going to be near impossible.

Any thoughts or suggestions or your real life stories are much appreciated!!!

Re: Pumping and working- what's the reality?

  • My supply has definitely dropped substantially. I pump 3x a day at work (there for 8.5 hours plus 2 hour total daily commute). Throughout it all, I've only needed 15-20 min to go over to the room, set up my stuff, pump, and get back to my office. Something to think about is that if you are in the US your job is legally required to allow you to pump (although they do not have to pay you if you are hourly) and also allow you 12 weeks of maternity leave, unless you work for the minority of businesses that are not required to do this. Just make sure you know your rights going into it.

    MNturnsVAdoodleoodlekrissyberbklhelder
  • I am in the US and have the ability to pump at my desk (I have an office so I can just shut the door). I just started back to work this week and my son is 4 months old and so far -- again only a week -- my supply hasn't dipped yet.. I do see a change throughout the day by the third pump I don't get as much as the first.  My one recommendation (again take them as you see fit or as they work for you) but I started pumping after each feeding in the hospital - they made me.  Once my milk came in I would pump in the early morning after his feeding (between 1-5am) I would always get a good amount its when you produce the most and I would freeze it in small quantities so you don't waste later.... I built up my stash throughout my whole maternity leave and just recently stopped pumpin in the wee morning hours since he is sleeping through the night now. everyone produces different but I highly recommend pumping in the early early morning your supply is the highest and start by freezing it for later when you get back to work for the JUST IN CASE you don't produce enough at work when you pump or you didn't have time to pump three times, etc.   

    I also found this book EXTREMELY helpful as a working/pumping mom -- Work Pump Repeat. it is amazing and goes through a lot of different working mom scenarios and pumping, etc. At least if anything it has some ideas and give you a little confidence.

    also helps to have some milk boosting foods throughout the day to up those later pumps...like oatmeal, lactation cookies, lactation smoothies, etc.

    MNturnsVAladythriceScoutPoutbublesmiled
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  • Thanks ladies!! i was pretty sure there were some rules that they had to follow but i wasn't sure how that all fell into place.  And just because they have to allow you the time to pump can they limit how much time you are away for?  For example can they say yes you can pump but you only have 20 min per session??

    and 12 weeks?? I guess i was thinking maybe the short term disability pays for 8 weeks?  I will be lucky if all goes well in this position if i can be out for 12.  This department has seen a lot of turn over and change in the last 9 months, so they will not be happy to hear i'm pregnant at all.
  • Well, I'd say take the position regardless. Be diligent about building your freezer stash while you're on leave. Pump on your commute, that knocks out at least 1 pumping session. There are plenty of mamas who have really crappy jobs pumping-wise, seems like the nurses and teachers on here get the shaft when it comes to pumping but they manage the best they can with limited pumping breaks.

    And, there's always the small possibility that something goes awry and you end up doing formula before you go back to work anyway. My sister had an allergy and ended up on formula after 2 months. I think you should make the best move for you career-wise and then fit breastfeeding/pumping into that.

    For me personally, I built up a stash pumping for the MOTN feed while my husband gave LO a bottle. In those early months LO would take a 3oz bottle but I could pump 6-7oz MOTN so I replaced the bottle and had extra. Now at work I'm one of the luckier ones in that my boss doesn't care that I take 30 min pumping breaks (at 11:30 and 2:30). I also pump on the drive in at 8am.

    We've been exclusively on BM now for 6 months. I think at a certain point supply drops pretty much regardless of your pumping situation, simply because you're not physically near the baby all day. And workplace stress doesn't help. That freezer stash is key. My boss worked FT and was able to EBF twins for 14 months though, so it's not like work and BFing are incompatible. Just some extra planning and perseverance and you got it!
    MNturnsVAwintersongklheldersplotch716
  • I went back to work when baby was 12 weeks and now she is 20! I've been pumping 2x a day at work for 30-15 min sessions including set up/take apart. I'm paid hourly and get two ten min breaks. I just clock out when i go over that time. As for supply I've not have any changes, if anything I've been making more! Baby girl eats about 14-18 Ozs at daycare and in pumping 16-24 so I'm able to add some to my stash which is great! When I'm home I try to breastfeed as much as possible and keep her close. If she sleeps though the night (which is not often) I pump and I always pump from the side she doesn't eat from in the middle of the night. I pump in the am before work to. It's a lot of work for sure but it's worth it! Now I've gotten use to it and it's no big deal.
    MNturnsVA
  • I agree with all the PPs. I would add that it is critical to keep your water in take up at work. Keep a water bottle with you at your desk, meetings, etc. my LO is almost 6 months and I've been working since he was 12 weeks.
    MNturnsVAwintersong
  • @krissyberb- that's part of the problem too currently.  I drank a pretty decent amount of water before getting positive pregnancy test but I could hold it longer. Not that that is healthy but.....I have to be very aware of what's going on around me & available for patients to talk too because the new position is the office manager for an orthodontic office & a large part of my job involves collecting $$ over phone & in person.  As of right now, I'm the only one taking payments for the orthodontics office. And there are some very delinquent accounts.  It's more often than not that between meeting with new patients to sign paperwork & collect $$, there are current patients coming in who I need to meet with as well & if you make them wait too long they'll leave. So it's kind of an issue.
  • You definitely will have to assert your need for those breaks if you want to have enough time to pump. I would say you need a break mid morning, lunchtime, and mid afternoon. You also need to have access to a room with a lock, a sink, and an outlet.

    When you move to a new position will you be treated as new hire? That could impact the leave you are able to take.
    BabyFruit Ticker
    tarheelgirl8
  • My working schedule couldn't be better with being able to pump. I have an office door and don't have to leave to go to another room to set up and my boss breastfed both of her babies and understands I need to pump often.
    I pump about 4x during my 10 hour day and nurse my baby over lunch at daycare.

    I didn't say all that for people to hate me I wrote that to say, even with all of that my supply dipped when I went back to work. I have been back for a month now. I still haven't had to supplement, but if I continue on the same path I will end up supplementing. I literally could not have a better scenario with working and pumping yet still I have struggled. I think it's normal for you to see a supply dip when you go back to work no matter how accommodating your job would be for it.

    With that being said also supplementing is not so bad if you are able to keep somewhat of a supply up. Even if you did 50/50 it would still save your wallet and be better nutrition for your baby than weaning too early
    MNturnsVA
  • Pumping and working is certainly challenging but definitely do-able!

    Some advice:
    • Start pumping early and often. While you are on maternity leave, pump after nursing sessions and collect every extra drop of milk you can. It may seem small at first, only 0.5-1.0 ounces each time, but it WILL add up and most importantly, it tells your body to make more milk. Save this milk in your freezer for days when you are short.
    • Join a working moms breastfeeding support group or a local breastfeeding support group. There is an AMAZING facebook group called "Working Moms Making Breastfeeding Work." This group is one of the MAJOR reasons I was able to be successful at breastfeeding while working. A PP mentioned the book, "Work, Pump, Repeat," the author of that book is actually a member of the group and got a lot of her information from the group.
    • Educate yourself on how much milk your baby needs during the day and be prepared to be your child's advocate. Don't let your childcare providers tell you you aren't making enough milk, you need to increase your bottle sizes, or get faster flow nipples. You do these things if YOU want, but do not let you childcare dictate these things. Often times, childcare providers are unfamiliar with the small differences between breastfed and formula-fed babies and assume all things are equal. This is categorically not true when it comes to the amount of milk they drink (An average breastfed baby will drink 1-1.5 ounces of BM/hour while away from mom from about 6 weeks to 1 year old regardless of their weight. Formula fed babies' intake changes based on weight).
    • Acknowledge that your supply may drop. Sometimes its returning to work, sometimes its your period, sometimes its just your body leveling off milk production to producing only what LO needs. IT'S OKAY, and NOT the end of the world. It's also okay for LO's daily bottle intake to (marginally) shift based on your output (+/- 1-2 ounces).
    • Get in the routine of a pumping schedule. I highly recommend this:
    1. Pump @ 5am everyday while home on maternity leave. Your supply is highest in the morning and it will tell your body that this feeding is a regularly scheduled feeding. (If LO wakes to nurse at 4:30, pump afterwards. If LO is still sleeping at 5, get up and pump.).
    2. Pump during your commute to and from work. Get yourself an adapter for your car so that you can pump while you are driving. It's a great way to squeeze in a pumping session.
    3. If possible, start by pumping every 2-3 hours at work. Your situation sounds like that will be difficult so I highly recommend AT LEAST pumping on your lunch break. (If you pump during your commute and on your lunch break, that's three pumping sessions! That's pretty good. I once had a LC consultant tell me that three pumping sessions was the minimum needed to be successful pumping to the one year mark. It ended up being true for me! Three was the magic number.)
    Congrats on your coming baby!!! Come back to this board with questions!

    DS: EDD, December 19th, 2014. Born, December 19th, 2014!
    DD: EDD, July 18th, 2016. Born, July 19th, 2016!
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    MNturnsVAkrissyberbmissiep86TerraMae80
  • You definitely will have to assert your need for those breaks if you want to have enough time to pump. I would say you need a break mid morning, lunchtime, and mid afternoon.

    I agree with this whole heartedly. If you're committed to breastfeeding you really have to be committed to pumping on schedule everyday. Also skipping sessions is really not an option, at least for me. I only allow myself to change my schedule by 30 minutes either way if I have meetings or something. If I skipped a session, I would absolutely leak through my shirt. They are required by law to give you time and a place to pump (assuming your in the US and work for a company with at least 50 employees).

    As far as losing your supply from pumping, every woman responds to pumping differently but I've been back at work at pumping for three months now and haven't had a problem with my supply. Most days I actually get at least 5 oz more than DD drinks at daycare.

    I pump three times a day (9, 12, 3) which lines up with the times that DD is eating at daycare. This makes for a seamless transition when I'm home with her on the weekends. From the time I close my door for setup to the time I open it again, it usually takes me 25-30 minutes. Again everyone is different. As far as using the freezer stash, BF is a supply and demand thing. If you are using your stash regularly your body won't know to produce more. Your freezer stash should be there for emergencies only. Actually the one day I didn't pump enough (let myself get dehydrated), I pumped at home after her bedtime feeding to make up the difference.

    My recommendation is that you state nicely but confidently what you need. Don't ask, tell. Good luck! Pumping at work isn't easy especially in the beginning but you can do it if you're dedicated!
    krissyberbMNturnsVA
  • There are laws protecting breastfeeding moms however those laws do not work for nurses busy keeping people alive. An office job should be easier I would think but then again I never had an office job. I breastfed during my 12 weeks at home, I knew I could not keep it up exclusively so I began supplementing 1 bottle a day to make sure the formula agreed with him and to let my supply drop some because I would never be able to pump more than twice in a 12hr shift. I kept up pumping at work for 6 weeks and my LO basically self weaned, prefered bottles from the beginning and finally rejected the boobs unless he was tired so we went down to bedtime and early am nursing and that lasted another week and we are done now. It's a lot of extra effort and I'm glad I did it but it wasn't really doable for me in the long run. If I could go back I would have made more effort to build up freezer supply and I would have taken an extra 4 weeks general LOA.
  • The 12 weeks is federal job protected leave, not paid leave. What you get depends on the state and company but generally speaking, is 6 weeks for vaginal and 8 weeks for c section.
  • My son is now 8 months old.  I came back to work when he was 10 weeks old, and pump 2-3 times, depending on the day.  I know it is difficult to get a break like that, however, PP are correct that legally, they have to give you that time.  Sometimes you have to be a bit adamant about it, people are not going to always remember that you have to pump, and you have to let them know.  However, I found that most people understand. 

    I typically keep up with baby when it comes to how much milk I get.  He is my second, so I feel that it came a little easier.  But some good tips are: Get comfortable with pumping before you go back to work.  Yes, it is hard to get a stash up when you are feeding he/she every day, but you should be able to get enough for at least the first couple days when you go back to work.  Be very adamant with those you work with that you have to pump at a certain time of the day.  Get a good pump!!!!!  I believe most insurance companies will buy you a good one.  Use this resource!  Lastly, don't give up.  There are so many times that I have been discouraged from not pumping enough, mastitis, or just being sore in general.  There are so many resources that can help you through, use them!  Good luck!

    marijaa333
  • sdheft619sdheft619
    Fourth Anniversary 250 Love Its 100 Comments Name Dropper
    member
    edited January 2016
    This is real life for me:

    i work as as a hairstylist. This is my first baby and I am the first in my family to breast feed. I took classes and read as much as I could. I never had problems with breastfeeding. I pump either every two or three hours. Sometimes four. My daughter is 4 1/2 months old and is drinking about 5 oz. I pump anywhere between 11-15 oz while at work. I have never pumped more than 15 min. I usually do  10 or 12 min. Depending how much is still coming out. Before I went back to work in November, I started to pump every morning starting October 1st. That was enough to get us started. When I am home with my daughter I nurse and don't pump. 

    My my supply has not dwindled at all. In fact it's better than before but I think that's because she eats more now. I try to eat healthier snacks and usually only drink water. But honestly, I'm not a healthy eater but I try!!

    I did want to say when I first went back to work I think my supply went down a little bit , but as soon as I thought it did I choked down oatmeal (I hate oatmeal) and drank more water. 

    Best of luck to you on this fantastic journey!

    ETA: if you have a fridge available I suggest putting your pump parts in that and that cuts down on washing in between pumping. I bought a swim suit bag( it's small and lined on the inside so I can easily wipe it down) and putting your parts in there. I found it at meijer for $5. I use wipes (medela) In between pumping sessions. 
    mthoomom
  • jessieR358jessieR358
    Fifth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    member
    edited February 2016
    I pump 3 times a day for 15 minutes each session (over my 8 and 11 hour shifts ). I built up a small stash before I went back when LO was 14.5 weeks old that helped
    me when I couldn't produce enough for the next day.  LO is now 7 months old and for the past several months I have pumped more than what he needs. I keep a small cooler in my office with ice packs so I don't have to go back and forth to the fridge to get out my pump parts or put away milk. 
    You have to be committed and assertive at work with your breastfeeding/pumping rights! I just remind my coworkers that my child's nutrition is non negotiable. 
  • I am a registered nurse with a 10 week old. I am very thankful that I haven't had a supply issue and was able to build a pretty good freezer stash (300oz) before I headed back to work last week. I work 8 hours shifts at an acute rehab hospital and used to be lucky to get a lunch break. I now demand a break halfway through the shift and pump then. I also pump before I head in and sometimes when I come home depending on when baby last ate. So far this is working as I have been able to pump an excess of 30-35oz a week to add to my stash. I was really worried about a schedule and drop and supply, and it turned out to be no problem so far. Who knows what the future will bring. I say make a plan but be flexible and you never know what will work and what won't until you try it.
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