SDBFC's Newest Pumping/Working Mom Guru!

Written by Anna Choi, IBCLC

When I accepted my current position as an IBCLC at the San Diego Breastfeeding Center, I knew what it meant…. time to dust off ye old breast pump and make it my new breast friend again. Clearly, I have one of the best work environments to pump breast milk in: I hang out with cute babies all day long {helps keep my prolactin levels and mama hormones happy}, my coworkers and boss are all fellow IBCLCs {help for any pumping concern is only a step away – literally}, and should I forget a pump part at home, odds are we have an extra in the office. But ladies, I didn’t always work in the land of boobies and after giving birth to my first daughter, I returned to my job as a retail manager and navigated the ups and downs of being a breastfeeding and working mother just like many of you have, or will soon, and I learned quite a bit about pumping and how to make this whole working breastfeeding mom thing work for me.

Here are three most important things I learned during my pumping journey:

1. Hands-on pumping, hands-on pumping, hands-on pumping. If you aren’t massaging your breasts during your pumping session, you are missing out on valuable ounces of liquid gold! I don’t remember what the circumstances were that led me to this valuable piece of information. Maybe I read an article, maybe a friend mentioned it to me, or maybe it happened by accident; but as soon as I realized that massaging and stroking the girls during pumping would yield more ounces [and drain my breasts quicker], you better believe I never pumped again without using this technique.

2. Speak up for yourself. No one else is going to advocate for you and ensure your pumping needs are being met. Yes, it’s fine to be a little flexible [as in bumping your 10am pumping session to 10:30am to accommodate a staff meeting], but do not be intimidated, scared, nervous, whatever to speak up for yourself and politely say that you cannot skip the pumping session altogether and will be pumping immediately following the meeting. Communication is key in these situations. When I worked in retail, we would get slammed on the weekends sometimes; and seeing as I was the Manager, I was working extra hard to keep the chaos organized. Even so, I would clearly tell every employee, “In 15 minutes, I have to pump, I’m doing X,Y, and Z before I take my pump break and then I’ll be back on the floor helping you guys.” It was never an issue because I made sure everyone was getting their breaks and they knew I was pulling my weight and working my butt off just like they were.

3. Relax. When it’s time to pump, leave your work outside and use your pumping time to decompress. I know this is easier said than done, especially when you have a deadline to meet or customers waiting for you. But stressing out about everything on your to-do list while you are on your pump break isn’t helping the situation. So when you sit down to pump, take a deep breath, scan a few pictures of your little one, take a sip of water and relax. Your milk will letdown easier and you will produce more if you aren’t worrying about the pile of work you’ve left behind.

 

SDBFC is so excited to welcome Anna as the leader of our new Working Moms Breastfeeding Support Group.  Every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month, from 10-11:30am, you can hang out with Anna and other working moms, sharing advice about keeping up your milk supply, pumping tips, and ways to keep your sanity as a breastfeeding and working mom.