Pumping in the Real World

Having a plan in place will help you ease through your workday as a working mom.


What if you have an all-day meeting? What if you can't find time to pump? Having a plan in place to deal with some common roadblocks will help you ease through your workday as a breastfeeding mom.

What if ... You have an off-site meeting? Do some preliminary investigation. Does the meeting locale have spare conference rooms? Are there hotels or department stores in the area that may have a comfortable ladies lounge? If not, find an empty bathroom stall.

What if ... You just can't carve out time to pump every day? "Put pumping on your daily calendar like it's a meeting, because it deserves that level of importance," says Marjorie Mayerson, managing director of national benefits at PricewaterhouseCoopers Corp., which instituted its corporate lactation program in the early 1990s. "When you schedule it, you'll have time for it."

What if ... You feel your milk letting down in the middle of a meeting? "You'd be surprised how quickly people will excuse you when you say the word 'breast' out loud," says Cate Colburn-Smith, a co-author of The Milk Memos: How Real Moms Learned to Mix Business and Babies--and How You Can Too (Tarcher/Penguin). "Depending on the situation, you can say something like, 'I need to step away. It's awkward to say, but I'm breastfeeding my daughter and need to go pump.'" If worst comes to worst, Colburn-Smith adds, and you don't feel comfortable speaking up, press your forearms firmly against your breasts to minimize leaking. "From our experience and research, most women have infrequent 'leaky incidents,'" adds co-author Andrea Serrette. "When they do occur, it's usually because women have gone more than five hours between feedings or pumping sessions."

What if ... You want to keep nursing but don't want to pump? "If a woman returns to work and doesn't want to pump, she can continue to nurse in the mornings and evenings but will have to supplement with formula," says Kirsten Berggren, a certified lactation counselor and the author of Working Without Weaning: A Working Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding (Hale Publishing). "Still, any amount of breast milk is better than none. Any feeding at the breast has physiological and psychological benefits for both mom and baby. Breastfeeding doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition."