Breastfeeding :: Making it Work as a Working Mom

Breastfeeding Series{Click image above for more stories of inspiration, encouragement, and support.}

Disclaimer :: I know everyone is technically a “working mom” – but the title ‘Making It Work as a Mom Who Works Outside the Home’ just didn’t have the same ring.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!  I never knew what an advocate for breastfeeding I would become until I was able to experience it.  My goal when I was pregnant was to just give it my best shot and hopefully make it 6 months – my 6 month “success” marker was just pulled out of the air because my other friends who worked outside of the home made it about that long.  Although we struggled in the beginning, my little man and I ended up lasting a little over one year…and I’m even beating myself up already for not going longer! {He’s currently 15 months.}

So how did I make it work as a working mom?  There is unfortunately not one simple answer, but I came up with a few tips to help along the way!

Breastfeeding Working Mom

Preparation is Key

For me, being a nursing and working mom required a lot of preparation.  Each night I prepared all of my pumping supplies I would need at work and Jack’s bottles for the next day while I was away.  Waiting to pull everything together the next morning always resulted in me forgetting something.

I toted my Medela Breast Pump with me every day to work.  {I’ve read that some people recommend buying two pumps: one for the office and one for home, but I could not swing that one financially.}  In my tote bag I always kept a cooler bag, ice packs, breast pads, hands-free bra, lanolin, bottles, milk storage bags, extra Ziplock bags for clean/dirty parts, 2-3 sets of parts, quick-clean wipes, burp clothes, sharpie for labeling the milk, and a nursing cover.  I had a car adapter that stayed in my car, and I purchased an extra plug – one for home and one that stayed in my office. {Yes, one day I forgot the plug which resulted in my extra purchase!}  At my office I kept a plastic dish drying rack, dish soap, and a bottle brush.

In the beginning it helped for me to look at pictures of Jack to relax or read a book to take my mind off of things, but after a few months I was typing emails and taking phone calls while I pumped!

Another comfort thing to think about is what you wear to work.  For me, it helped if I opted for pants and a top rather than a dress.  Depending on how the dress is structured, you might find yourself sitting in your {usually cold} office in just undies hooked up to a pump.  I kept a cozy fleece jacket in my office too so I could throw it on if I was cold.

Have a Sense of Humor

Between being connected to a pump like a milking cow several times a day and trying to act serious at a work meeting, you must find some humor in the whole situation.  I was so stressed in the beginning – the idea of leaving my baby at home for 8 hours, all of the pumping logistics you have to think about, and the pure exhaustion of being a new mom, I was frazzled.  I was able to find ways to find the humor in this whole thing mostly by finding a network of other women who had been there before.  The other contributors on Houston Moms Blog and the Facebook page actually provided me with lots of great stories.  I would often post a picture of my pump on Instagram and instantly {pun intended} get tons of encouraging comments.

Grab Some Self Confidence

If you plan to breastfeed and go back to work {at least outside of the home} chances are you will be pumping while you are away.  Whether you are pumping in an office, car, bathroom stall, or conference room, you will need some self-confidence in order to ask for the proper accommodations and schedule.  If you work in a male-dominated environment like me, now is not the time to be shy.  My best advice is to not act like you are embarrassed or doing anything wrong – because you aren’t!  Know the law and what YOU need in order to feel comfortable, and ask for it.  Go to HR if you need to or seek advice from a coworker who has been there before.  Pumping in my office was uncomfortable the first week back.  It never failed that even with a sign on my door, someone would unknowingly knock and ask to come in.  At first I was embarrassed, but after a while I either ignored it or said I’m pumping! It helps if you, have a co-worker buddy near you who can be your support.

Arm Yourself

As I mentioned above in the Preparation section, there are lots of tools available that will make your life easier.  Most of the stuff I didn’t even know existed {hands-free bra} and just stumbled upon through friends or Google.  One of the best things I stumbled upon was A Woman’s Work.  I would have never found it or taken the time to check it out if it hadn’t been for a friend who told me they had one of the best selection of nursing bras in Houston. I was wearing a terrible bra that I found at a maternity store and just assumed it was as good as it was gonna get.  WRONG!  It sounds weird {because no one sees my bra obvi}, but it made me feel more normal going back to work in a “normal” looking, properly-fitted nursing bra.

I felt better about being a busy working and nursing mom just by being there.  I felt like they understood me, and I took comfort in the fact that I wasn’t the only person who was tackling this.  I just wish I would have visited them sooner!

Look at the {Milk} Glass Half Full

While I could talk all day about all of the unpleasant and inconvenient things that come with breastfeeding and working, I chose to focus on the positives.  Otherwise, I would have never survived.  Sure I hated washing pump parts constantly, but I loved getting some “me” time throughout the day at work to shut the door and be alone.  I hated staying up late to pump that last time before falling asleep, but I rewarded myself with my favorite guilty pleasures on Bravo – The Real Housewives of Anywhere…it doesn’t matter.  I loved the bonding time with my baby, and it even provided a nice little escape when I was staying at my in-laws, ha!

Stick with It, But Also Know When to Call It

It seems awkward and scary at first, but I promise that you will become an on-the-go pro!  Read more funny stories and tips here about nursing and pumping around Houston.  After giving yourself some time to ease back into the workforce as a nursing mom, if it isn’t getting any easier and you aren’t happy, do yourself a favor and allow yourself to explore other options.  There is no shame in throwing in the towel on this one.  I am the biggest supporter of “Happy Mom, Happy Baby.”

Please Note :: We are so very thankful to have A Woman’s Work sponsoring our entire breastfeeding series! They believe that bearing and nurturing children is some of the most important work in the world, and we could not agree more.  If you are searching for products, services, and resources for birth, breastfeeding, and beyond – we urge you to check them out both online and in store!

A Woman’s Work

4101 Greenbriar Suite 210
Houston, TX 77098



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