Tips for Pumping at Work

 It’s the 21st Century! More and more mothers are returning back to work shortly after they deliver. In my opinion, the U.S. average maternity leave length of 12 weeks or less (if you do not qualify for FMLA) is just way too short, compared to other developed countries such as, Austria, who have maternity leave that can last up to 2 years! 

As mentioned from my previous posts, I started pumping soon after my son was born due to latch-on issues. I was on maternity leave for 10 weeks, and when it was time to return to work, I still wanted to continue pumping. I was unsure about how my manager and the doctors I worked with felt about me taking time to pump while on clock, so before I came back from maternity leave I spoke with my manager. By law, I was allowed to pump when I needed to, but my manager who was very understanding, also consented it.

One of the problems I faced while pumping at work was having a private lactation room. I worked at a medical clinic, and you’d think there would be a lactation room, but there was not. The whole building is a medical facility, but there was not one single lactation room! So I had to make do with what I have. At first it was very hard pumping at work because, I was on a set pumping schedule at home, but at work it depends if a room is available to pump in. At first I was pumping 3 times at work, but since it was hard to find available rooms, I had to cut down to 2. Also by law, pumping in the restroom CANNOT be an option, and by my own sanitary concerns, I did not want to pump in the restroom. 

For those moms who are planning to pump when you go back to work, or already back at work but struggling to find time/place/ways etc, I would recommend: 

1) Researching and understanding your rights. We become such protective individuals when we have our children, and I became the type of person where my son comes first no matter what. So does his health, too. I looked up my rights, so I can always defend myself if anyone feels it is wrong for me to pump at work. Research on Section 4207 of the Affordable Care Act about your rights at the workplace for pumping. 

Some of the rights covered by Section 4207 are:

  • “An employer shall provide a reasonable amount of break time and a space to express milk as frequently as needed by the nursing mother, for up to one year following the birth of the employee’s child”
  • The space provided by the employer cannot be a bathroom, and it must be shielded from view and free from intrusion by coworkers or the public.  
  • Employers are not required under the FLSA to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk. However, where employers already provide compensated breaks, an employee who uses that break time to express milk must be compensated in the same way that other employees are compensated for break time.

 As part of my job, I had to go to a few training events, and travel to other offices and locations. First thing I did when I arrived, was ask the immediate supervisor where they had a private room with a plug to pump in. At first, I was too shy to ask, but to my surprise these places already had a lactation room set up! 


2) Talking to HR & your supervisor/manager. That way you can both set up a plan that will work for all. 

After a couple months of working again, and getting used to pumping at work, I was able to finally set a routine. One that worked well with the schedules of the doctors and my coworkers. I had set up my private lactation room in one of the doctor’s offices right after she left for lunch around 11:00, and then after she ended her clinic around 3:40 pm. This way, I was still able to set up a schedule at work and home too.
3) Seeking advice from other BTDT moms at your office. It can be beneficial to hear other moms’ who have successfully pumped at the office, or the troubles they may have encountered.
If it wasn’t for the understanding doctors and my coworkers I worked with, I would not have been able to keep pumping until my son’s 1st birthday. I was very apprehensive and felt a little nervous pumping at work at first. I felt like I would be judged because I was taking time off of what I’m supposed to be doing at work, or intruding in someone else’s way. Luckily, I worked with mostly females who have children, so they understood the value. They applauded me for being able to pump until my son was 1 year old, and that really helped encourage me to keep going. 
4) Developing a pumping routine before going back to work. Whether you’re exclusively breastfeeding or just pumping, or if you’re half and half, developing a routine beforehand will help regulate your supply. Start pumping before returning to work to know how much you will be leaving for your baby. Also, this way you can build a supply in the freezer, so you wouldn’t have to panic if the “freshly pumped” milk runs out.
5) No fridge? No problem! If your office does not have a refrigerator, bring a small cooler and an ice pack to leave your milk in. Bring 2 ice packs to be safe, and to ensure your milk does not spoil. 
6) As mentioned from my previous pumping tips post, BUY 2 of EVERYTHING! Don’t  buy two pumps, that is unnecessary. When certain retailers have sales, take advantage of it. Buy another set of pump parts, flanges, valves and membranes, just in case you forget a set at home. I am guilty of doing this NUMEROUS of times. There has even been times I would go on my lunch break to pick them up because I want to avoid mastitis.

7) Making a door sign! Avoid those embarrassing moments I had experienced! Make sure you have a sign on your door when you pump, especially if there is no lock!!
I cannot tell you how many times, people have walked in on me while pumping! Even when I have a “Please Knock” sign! It was very horrifying and embarrassing! Our medical office did not have locks in any of the doctor or patient rooms, so I had to put a chair behind the door and sit there so that no one will walk in!

I hope these tips are helpful for you or maybe for a friend or family member you may know. For more information on pumping at work and your rights check out these links:
Checking out Medela‘s blog really helps too!  

For those who are really struggling to find a private place to pump in, do not be discouraged. Please seek help and advice from Human Resources or your manager. It is not wrong at all to be pro-active about your values and what you believe is the best for you and your child.
Ladies, what did you do to successfully pump at work??
You tell them, Ryan!

24 thoughts on “Tips for Pumping at Work

  1. iloveanaddict says:

    Really fun to read this, LoL! I went back to work for a bit after my son was born. I pumped in an empty office that had a lock on it. I always felt super panicky though anytime I heard someone outside the door. Very uncomfortable! I also read at the time that anxiety could cause a decrease in your supply but I don't think it affected me. My only issue was not feeling like I got to do it as often as needed. I'm a nurse and I was fortunate to even get one break to pump. Ugh–those were the days…. LoL!


  2. sharissepieces says:

    Hi Danica! I returned to work earlier this month (Feb 2014). I am grateful that my work provides a pumping mom's heaven: a private, locked room with three pumping “stations,” and a sink. Each station has a seat, small table, curtain that covers the entire area, and even a light with a dimmer! My twins are 6 months and I would love to continue at least until they turn 1. I would love to aim for longer than that, but I also wouldn't mind gaining back the time and effort it takes to pump. One tip I have that works very well is storing pump parts in the fridge after each use and washing them once a day. I store the parts in a gallon ziplock back and put in a gift bag in my work's fridge.


  3. Jane H says:

    Very informative Danica. I wish they had more of this type of information when I was a new Mom. Breastfeeding/Pumping is something I strongly advocate! Thank you for sharing your knowledge with others.


  4. Sarah Vanderkooy says:

    You share such good resources for moms, thank you. When I was pumping at work my office mate was too. We shared a cubicle and were able to put up a cute little curtain to close when we needed to pump. It was so nice not to have to trek down to another room. The mostly men that we worked with knew if the curtain was closed that they shouldn't come knocking. I was lucky to work in such a supportive environment.


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