Breastfeeding is widely recognized as the most ideal way to feed infants, providing them with optimal nutrition, immune system protection, and a host of other benefits. However, for many working moms, the challenges of breastfeeding can be overwhelming.
Balancing the demands of work with the needs of a newborn can be a daunting task, and the pressure to perform both roles well can be stressful. Remember to go easy on yourself!
Breastfeeding at Work – Common Challenges
Location and Time
One of the biggest challenges of breastfeeding for working moms is finding the time and space to pump breast milk during the work day. Many working mothers are only able to take short breaks, and finding a private, comfortable location to express breast milk can be difficult.
In addition, pumping breast milk can be a time-consuming process, and many women find that they need to pump more often than they anticipated to maintain their milk supply.
Despite laws protecting breastfeeding in the workplace, some women still report negative experiences, such as being denied breaks to pump or being forced to use unsanitary or uncomfortable locations to express breast milk.
Bottom line, no one should have to pump sitting on a toilet seat locked in the bathroom!
Another challenge is the logistics of transporting and storing breast milk. It is important that breast milk is stored at a specific temperature as it can spoil if not handled properly. For moms who commute to work, this can be a major logistical hurdle. Lots of gear is required: breast pumps, storage containers, a cooler, and ice packs to transport the milk home safely.
Breastfeeding can be one of the most difficult parts about becoming a mom. When it comes to working moms, the stress of returning to work after giving birth, coupled with the physical demands of breastfeeding and the challenges of pumping, can lead to feelings of guilt and anxiety.
Some women may feel like they are not able to provide enough breast milk for their babies or that they are not able to balance their work and parenting responsibilities effectively. Other times, working moms face judgement or discrimination in the workplace and don’t feel supported by their employers or colleagues.
In general, finding the right balance between work and motherhood can be overwhelming.
Tips for Breastfeeding as a Working Mom
With some planning and organization, it is possible to make the challenge of breastfeeding while working a rewarding endeavor. Here are some tips to help you navigate this beautiful journey:
- Plan ahead and communicate with your employer. Before returning to work, make sure to communicate with your employer about your intention to continue breastfeeding. Discuss your needs and requirements, such as breaks for pumping, a private space for pumping, and a refrigerator for storing breast milk. Familiarize yourself with your company’s policies on breastfeeding and pumping breaks, and know your legal rights as a breastfeeding mother in your country or state.
- Create a pumping schedule. Establishing a consistent pumping schedule can help you maintain your milk supply and ensure that you have enough milk for your baby while you are at work. Try to pump at the same times every day, ideally around the same times your baby would normally nurse. Depending on your work schedule, you may need to pump once or multiple times during your workday. Use a high-quality breast pump that is efficient and comfortable to help you express milk effectively.
- Set up a comfortable pumping station. Creating a comfortable and conducive pumping environment can make the experience more enjoyable and efficient. Find a private space where you can pump, such as a designated lactation room or a private office. Make sure the room has a comfortable chair, a table for your pump and supplies, and access to electricity for your breast pump. You may also want to decorate the space with photos or items that remind you of your baby to help you relax and stimulate letdown.
- Stock up on pumping supplies. Make sure you have all the necessary supplies for pumping at work. This may include extra pump parts, breast milk storage bags or bottles, a cooler bag, nursing pads, and cleaning supplies. Having these items readily available at work will help you pump efficiently and keep your milk supply well-managed.
- Practice time management. Balancing work and motherhood can be challenging, so practicing good time management skills is crucial. Plan your day and prioritize tasks to ensure that you have enough time for breastfeeding, pumping, and work-related duties. Use your breaks or lunchtime to pump, and try to avoid scheduling meetings or appointments during your pumping sessions. Remember to also take breaks for self-care and relaxation to avoid burnout.
- Use technology to your advantage. There are many technological tools that can assist you in managing your breastfeeding and work schedule. Use a breastfeeding tracking app to keep track of your baby’s feeding schedule, milk supply, and pumping sessions. Set up reminders on your phone or calendar to remind you of your pumping sessions or to take breaks. You can also use a breast pump that has a built-in timer or programmable settings to make pumping more efficient and convenient.
- Take care of yourself. Breastfeeding can be physically and emotionally demanding, so taking care of yourself is essential. Make sure to eat a healthy and balanced diet, stay hydrated, and get enough rest. Avoid stress triggers and practice stress management techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation. Consider seeking support from your partner, family, or friends, and don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed.
- Be flexible and kind to yourself. Remember that breastfeeding and working can be challenging, and it’s okay to have days that don’t go as planned. Be flexible with your pumping schedule and be kind to yourself if you face setbacks or difficulties. It’s important to remember that you are doing your best for your baby and your work.
See our Breast Pumping Tips article for more tips on how to make the most of pumping!
Read our series on breastfeeding
Breastfeeding for Working Moms