Sanity Savers

Returning to Work as a Nursing Mom

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of 1 Natural Way, a TRICARE breast pump provider. All opinions are entirely my own.

Going back to work has its own challenges after having a baby. But going back to work AND continuing to nurse my infant- was an entirely different beast. I want to be clear in saying that I fully understand and empathize why moms quit nursing if they are working full time. It is not for the faint of heart, and the guilt and anxiety that is usually found around it is unreal. I want to share some of my experiences and also- like i do- some tips for easing the transition for working moms who are continuing to nurse so you have an advocate in your corner should you decide to go that route. But if your mental health is suffering because of nursing, please choose your happiness over nursing. Please choose to be okay over continuing to pump and nurse if it is causing anxiety or depression or high emotional states. Your baby deserves a happy, healthy YOU.

 

When I gave birth- our insurance wasn’t covering breast pumps so we got the “highly recommended” Medela Pump in Style– on our own and forked over a ton of money on the pump, extra supplies (tubing, membranes, different size flanges, breast milk bags, containers, etc)- just to get started. Shortly after I gave birth- Tricare allowed a free breast pump, but no supplies (I’ll take what I can get on enlisted salary!). So I asked around and it was highly recommended that Spectra was the go-to for working mamas. So I’m going to share some differences between the Medela PISA and the Spectra 2.

Before your baby is born:

#1 Make sure you check your insurance, most insurances cover the cost of a NEW pump with EACH pregnancy. Even if you gave birth within a year, some will back date it. What I LOVE about 1 Natural Way is that they will contact your insurance company and then tell you what you’re approved for. So ask questions and get the best bang for your buck and your needs. And for you military spouses- they take really good care of us and working with Tricare!

#2 Pick Your Pump:
The Medela PISA came in this cute little tote bag, and all my supplies fit in nicely. It was easily concealed that it was a “pump” and I liked that everything was stored in itself- even my extra pump supplies (membranes, tubing, etc). I liked that convenience, however- the thing you need to know about pumps are that the Medela increases the speed AND suction strength with the same dial. You can’t separate that- and so half the time when I pumped my nipples were red and raw and kind of “rug burned” because if you turned up the speed, the suction got rougher. I didn’t like that at all. I also didn’t like that the pump wasn’t a “closed” system- meaning there was no block between the pump and your milk- so about 8 months into pumping, it malfunctioned and milk got into my motor and I had to throw the whole thing out. There was no saving it because now it had been “compromised”.

The Spectra 2 is considered “hospital grade” which if you read carefully the Spectra 1 is hospital grade by the 2 is ranked on the same quality as the PISA, so I was able to get this instead of just another PISA- but in my opinion the Spectra 2 is way better. And here’s why. It’s smaller, which made it easy to fit in any bag, or my filing cabinet drawer at work. It has a night light if you need to pump during the night and you don’t want to wake the baby. It is a closed system- which if you read what happened with my PISA- there was no risk of contamination or mold growth, also means I could give it to another mom without the risk of transferring any nastiness on. I also loved that the speed AND strength of the pump were separate dials meaning I could increase the speed separately and I didn’t have any of the rubbing raw issue that the PISA gave me.

#3 Find out about extra Supplies

I recommend having an extra “set” of replacement supplies which can include:

Tubing

Attachments to the valve, bottles, or flanges

Valves

Extra Bottles & Flanges

Why? Because you never know when something will break or snap or get a hole and you need to be prepared when you’re away from your baby and pumping.

 

The other really incredible thing about 1 Natural Way is that they have a free stocking program and they ship you extra supplies or replacement parts. They call this their Resupply program, which honestly as a working mom- this is a GOD SEND! They understand not just that they need to give you a quality pump, but that pumps require upkeep and they’ve met that need flawlessly.

Before going back to work:

#1 Research the breastfeeding laws in your State

The National Conference of State Legislatures spells out the law associated with pumping mothers in the workplace. It is your legal right to be giving a space that is NOT a bathroom to pump in private. Legally- your workplace doesn’t have to pay you, so you need to plan accordingly financially for that. But legally they cannot deny you pumping time. Stand up for your right and don’t be afraid to take it to HR. Nothing will improve for other women if you let yourself get bullied into stopping pumping because your “boss doesn’t allow it”.

#2 Decide on a pumping schedule

Contrary to popular belief breastfed babies do NOT need mountains of breastmilk like formula fed babies do. You should allot for 1-1.25 OUNCES of milk per HOUR you are away from your baby. So 12 hours away = 12-15 ounces of milk. Don’t believe me- check out Kelly Mom the breastfeeding guru for how much milk is needed. I was gone for 12-13 hours so my schedule was:

5:00AM- shower get dressed
5:30AM- wake baby, nurse, get dressed
6:00AM- daycare drop off
7:00AM- Arrive at work Work
8:00AM- pump (15-20 minutes)
11:00AM- pump (15-20 minutes)
2:00PM- pump (15-20 minutes)
4:30PM- leave work
5:30PM- Nurse at arrival to daycare
6:00PM- Home

 

I made sure to nurse in the early AM, and as soon as I got to daycare and pumping 3 times a day generally got me 12-15 ounces. Some weeks more, some weeks less. But it all evened out over time.

#3 Have a conversation with your boss and your work team

Make it professional, but make sure everyone knows that your pumping times have to stay consistent for your supply to stay up. I missed some work meetings or lunches off campus, but people were more than happy to fill me in and send me the meeting notes. It’s not always fun being that “person”, but as long as my work was done- they couldn’t really complain.

This is all just to get you started, but with 1 Natural Way, the hard part- negotiating with the insurance and your OBGYN, you can leave that to them- and handle the parts that really need your attention: your baby and your job. So take a deep breath mama, pumping while working is totally doable- it just takes some planning and clear communication. You’ve got me in your corner.

Did insurance cover a pump for you? I’d love to hear your experiences below!

3 thoughts on “Returning to Work as a Nursing Mom”

  1. I am so happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the accidental misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc.

  2. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is wonderful blog. A great read. I’ll definitely be back.

    1. Appreciate it- I actually did write a book, but since I pumped while working, I do know a lot about it- but it’s been a few years <3

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