How do I use a breast pump at work?
Before you return to work, you should inform your employer that you intend to keep breastfeeding. This should be done regardless of whether your workplace is openly supportive of breastfeeding mothers being back at work or not. So long as you assure your employer that this would not interfere with your work, all should be well. At the same time, you should instruct the person caring for your baby to bottle-feed your stored breastmilk to your baby.
There are supplies you should prepare for expressing your breast milk at work. You will need to wear a nursing bra, and clothes that make it easy to express milk. You will of course have to bring your breast pump. To minimise pumping time at work, an electric breastpump would definitely be more efficient compared to a manual pump. Extra parts like tubes and membranes for your electric pump may also help. A cooler bag, along with bottles and storage bags are all needed for storing and transporting your breastmilk home. Breast pads may also be useful to have in your nursing bras in the event of leakage.
Using a breast pump efficiently
Before you return to work, try to start using the breastpump at home about a month earlier, so that you can get familiar with it, and will not feel lost the first day you are back at work and want to have your breastmilk expressed. If you still want to breastfeed at home for as long as possible before you return to work, you can practise using the breastpump between feedings, which will sometimes also help to relieve pressure in your breasts from the accumulation of milk, and will at the same time stimulate the production of more milk.
With your breastpump, you may also like to use the hands free pumping bra, which helps make pumping a little easier. This is particularly useful when you have to pump your breastmilk in the course of a busy typical workday. With the hands-free pumping bra, you can type at your computer, hold a document to read, or answer a text message on your cellphone all while you are pumping your breastmilk for feeding later.
The Simple Wishes hands-free pumping bra is a particularly useful accessory. It is closed over your chest with Velcro, which means that you can use the same bra as your breast size varies post-pregnancy.
Time and place to use a breast pump
If your workplace does not have a nursing room built specially for breastfeeding mothers to express their milk, you may like to ask for the privacy of a room at certain times of the day to express your milk. This could be an empty office or conference room, or even a storeroom that is clean. It is of course best that you do not pump your breasts in the toilet, where it is not very hygienic to express and store your breast milk for your baby’s consumption.
How often you pump your breasts depends on how often you can take breaks to do so. Pumping once or twice in a workday is probably the most feasible. The frequency you pump your breasts at will also depend on how full your breasts feel. If you breasts are too full and start to feel uncomfortable, you should certainly try to excuse yourself to have the breastmilk expressed to relieve the pressure.
How often should I pump?
You should express your milk at least once every 4 hrs. It is important to not skip any sessions as your milk supply will decrease over time if your breasts are not regularly stimulated by breastfeeding or pumping. At each pumping session, you should pump about 15 minutes on each side or 15 minutes total if you are pumping both sides at the same time. When your breasts feel somewhat emptied, you can turn off the pump and carefully store the milk in the cooler bags to keep it fresh before transporting it back to your freezer at home.