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For many working moms, the first week back is the hardest: you’ve never had to leave your baby before! Speak with your employer about ways to make the transition smoother. Maybe day one can be on a Thursday, or see if you can work a few half days in the beginning.
For a typical eight-hour workday, experts suggest that you nurse right before you leave for work and again when you get home, in addition to any other times your baby might want. At work, try to pump at the times your baby would normally nurse; plan on two sessions every day, three if you can swing it.
Be sure to bring these items with you when you head back to the office:
Your trusty pump Look for one that comes with a carrying bag to make transport easy.
Breast milk storage bottles or bags Try the ones from Simplisse (amazon.com).
Nursing pads These are essential in case you spring a leak.
An extra shirt You’ll want something to change into in case you make a mess when pumping.
A “hands-free” helper Many companies make bustiers that attach over your bra, enabling you to pump without holding the pump flanges. We like the ones from Simple Wishes and Medela.
A small cooler with ice packs Breast milk remains fresh at room temperature for only five hours, so you’ll need to store pumped milk in a refrigerator or cooler.
Breast pump wipes Hirkani’s Daughters: Women Who Scale Modern Mountains to Combine Breastfeeding and Working (La Leche League International). “It’s going to feel tedious sometimes, but it really doesn’t take that much time out of your life, and the benefits to your baby will last her a lifetime.”
If you’ll be working full time and thus pumping several times a day, a double electric pump is the way to go so you can express both breasts at once. (Can you say “milk maid?”) Women who work part time often opt for single-electric or manual pumps, as these are typically less expensive yet still quite effective.
If you buy a manual or single electric, prices start at around $95 for manuals and up to about $170 for single electrics. If you want a double electric, you can either buy your own (prices range from about $220 to $370) or rent one. If you rent, the rate can range from $50 to $95 per month; renting also requires an initial expenditure of about $50 to $60 for certain parts you’ll need to purchase.
For information on finding a pump that fits your needs, contact La Leche League International (llli.org); they can put you in touch with a breast pump specialist in your area.
Did you know? In addition to federal regulation, 24 states have laws pertaining to breastfeeding and work. Visit ncsl.org/programs/health/breast50.htm.