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Thread: how to balance pumping and employment...? is it worth it

  1. #1

    Default how to balance pumping and employment...? is it worth it

    Hi all,

    I'm new to LLL and apologize if this is a repeat question, but I really need all of your advice! I am nearing the end of my pregnancy and still trying to decide how long I will breastfeed. I will return to full time work shortly after birth with a male boss. I get lunch break for 30 minutes and two 15 min breaks throughout the day.

    Does anyone have any advice or strategies for balancing work and pumping, esp. talking to a male boss about these things... thanks! I really want to breastfeed and know how great it is for my baby but don't know if it's possible with all the hassle... please help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Default Re: how to balance pumping and employment...? is it worth it

    First, I want to say YES YES YES it is worth the hassle. Breastfeeding is the way we are meant to feed our babies. It's good for your baby and it's good for you. Once you get the hang of it, there are few things as pleasurable as nursing a baby. I could go on at length, but I want to focus on your question about balancing pumping and employment - something I am now doing for the third time and do not regret for a second.

    So the thing about pumping and employment is first, you have to make the commitment to doing it, just as you have to make the commitment to breastfeeding in the first place. Second, you have to be organized about it. Every day I have a plan for when I'm going to pump and how I'm going to fit my pumping sessions into my schedule.

    How long is your work day? Three pumping sessions in the day is doable, for some people maybe not quite enough - in which case you can add pumping sessions while driving, for others three is fine. 15 minutes is a little short, though. Depending on how responsive your body is to the pump, 20 minutes is closer to the minimum time, and for many women 30 minutes is more realistic (sometimes more). So the first thing is to find out whether you can get some flexibility to your break times. Like if you need to have a 35 minute lunch break or if your other breaks need to be 20 or 25 minutes, is that workable? Also, you'd like to be able to space your break times so that they're spread evenly through the day. You'll also want to get a camisole or bra that allows you to pump hands free at your lunch break, so you can eat while you're pumping. A nursing mom can't go all day without eating!

    Talking to your male boss - well, no easy answers there, depending on your relationship with him it can be an uncomfortable conversation. But you just have to say to yourself that you are doing this for YOUR BABY and you need to do it even if it's uncomfortable, and even if you feel uncomfortable try not to show it! The other strategy that I've used is rather than talk to male bosses, I've enlisted help from the female administrative staff, and we've worked things out without even talking to the male boss. Of course that depends on how your workplace is structured and so on, so if you just need to talk to the male boss, you need to talk to him.

    If all else fails, you may be protected by the law, depending on the details of your job and workplace. But it's nice not to have to go that route if you don't have to.

    Good luck and keep bringing your questions here!

  3. #3
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    Jan 2012
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    Default Re: how to balance pumping and employment...? is it worth it

    Ha-ha, I have found with male bosses that they're so uncomfortable talking about it that it's a "Whatever you want -- just go!" situation. I happily bring it up..."Gotta go pump now!" But I have heard of women whose bosses really don't understand and don't like to see them away from their desk so much. I"m a very productive worker and had a hard time with the fact that I had to be interrupted so much to pump. I felt like I wasn't accomplishing anything. But after a few months it got easier and I felt like I got into a rhythm. It's hard to plan around meetings and things sometimes, but as long as you're fairly consistent the occasional missed pumping session or shortened one won't make a huge difference.

    I found it was worth it -- you feel very connected to your baby knowing your still providing milk for him/her. Also, my baby has not had any real illnesses -- no ear infection, no major colds. Granted, we have a nanny so she's not in day care so limited time with other kids, but her dad has been sick a few times and neither she nor I caught it. I feel like the very few times I've taken off work to take care of my little one make up for the fact that I'm pumping a few times a day. Also, I never bothered with the hands-free pumping bras, but I'm sure that would help if you could manage to have a computer in your pumping space. I wasn't able to have one so I just read some books or listened to podcasts, which is rather relaxing!
    Mom to my sweet little "Pooper," born 10/12/11, and "Baby Brother," born 6/23/2014, and married to heavy metal husband. Working more than full-time, making healthy vegetarian meals for family, and trying to keep up with exercise routine.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: how to balance pumping and employment...? is it worth it

    This resource may help: http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfe...breastfeeding/

    I think that when talking to your boss, you present pumping as a given, while acknowledging the potential inconvenience. "I am (obviously, at this point!) having a baby, and that means I am going to need to pump milk during the workday. So I am going to need the following: a place to pump that has an electrical outlet, privacy (in other words, a door), and regular pump times. At times, pumping may mean that I need to take a break right in the middle of something, but I am going to do my utmost to keep being a productive employee. Hopefully keeping my baby breastfed will help me achieve that, because breastfed babies are supposed to have fewer ear infections and other illnesses, and that should mean fewer days when I have to be home caring for him/her."
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  5. #5
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    Default Re: how to balance pumping and employment...? is it worth it

    YES YES YES IT'S WORTH IT!!!

    What kind of job do you work?

    I did retail; on my daily 6 hour shifts I got one 15 min break, and on my weekend 8 hr shifts two 15s and one 30.

    Before I came off of ML, I approached my HR by stating, "I'll be needing a place to pump on my breaks, what can you provide?"
    At first, I felt incredibly guilty for leaving the floor to go pump, especially because it look longer than 15 minutes! But I figured out how to save some time, and I became really efficient at letting down for the pump so I didn't have to "waste" so much time.

    As for the male bosses...haha well, the store manager's wife had BF for a while, and both my bosses' wives had BF and pumped at their jobs, so I had some "sympathy." If things were getting in the way of me taking my break, all I'd have to do so say I'm in pain and I'd be free to go I had one walk-in...things were awkward for the rest of the day, but I was actually able to make light of the situation and it ended up being something of a lighthearted joke for the rest of my time there. After that though, I got this and it saved all of us : http://www.milkitkit.com/ But like PPs said, most males don't really want to talk about your pumping, so they just let you do your thing. One of my coworkers reassured me, when I was worried about them getting mad at me for being so persistent about my breaks, that, "Oh honey, you're pumping. They won't touch that. They're too afraid of a lawsuit." Worked for me! Now that being said, I didn't take advantage of it. I streamlined my routine, like I said, so I took what time I needed but never more; I'd eat my snack/drink while pumping so that as soon as I cleaned up, I was back to work...20 min, tops.

    Personally, I feel pumping made me work harder/better. It was a true time to relax (if I didn't relax, no milk!).
    It helped me feel connected to my baby even though I was gone.
    It was reassuring, probably to both of us, knowing he was getting "me" while I wasn't there.
    Daniel Keith + Rachel Joy = Leonel Dante [4/13/2012]

  6. #6
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    Default Re: how to balance pumping and employment...? is it worth it

    Yes, it is worth it :-) Pumping is work, but like PPs said, if you are organized about it, you can integrate it into your work day without losing much productivity. I think a lot of it is about mindset: by accepting pumping as the "new normal," you just figure out the logistics to make it work (rather than approaching it as a chore). I feel so good knowing that baby is 100% fed by my milk! There is lots lots lots of good technical advice on working and pumping on these forums, the LLL resources pages, and kellymom.

    You said you are "trying to decide how long to breastfeed" ... I am always hesitant to give "advice" since I am far from an expert, but my one caution from personal experience here would be to try not to decide But rather, just go with the flow and take your nursing relationship one day at a time. Each phase of nursing brings new rewards and sometimes new challenges that are hard to plan for, but any challenge can be worked through step by step. You might surprise yourself by becoming a breastfeeding and pumping pro! :-)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: how to balance pumping and employment...? is it worth it

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal View Post
    I think that when talking to your boss, you present pumping as a given, while acknowledging the potential inconvenience.
    This. It's all in how you present it.
    Little SW, Aug '09
    Miss MW, Jan '11
    Sir RW, Oct '12
    3 kids in 38 mos

  8. #8
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    Default Re: how to balance pumping and employment...? is it worth it

    As PP said, talk to your boss like it is a fact and it is going to happen. Then open up the conversation with him about how "we" are going to make it easiest for everyone. Make it clear that you want to have an action plan and you want him on board.

    Having a comfortable space to pump and an easy place to store everything is a huge part in making pumping quick and easy. There is a previous thread on here about what to have in your pumping bag to make things go smoothly, too.

    Good Luck!
    My little man was born 12/17/2010.

    Baby girl was born 4/30/2014.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: how to balance pumping and employment...? is it worth it

    This has been helpful to me as well! I am not expecting my first child until feb. and will have 8 weeks off. then back to work part time for 1 month, then full time again. I am already so anxious about this, and having dreams about it! Brest feeding is just so important to me. I want it to work so much! I want to be successful with pumping and I am anxious already! My work is mostly women. But NO ONE has pumped at work! all the mothers were back to work and babies on formula. So they think I am crazy for wanting to exclusively BF for the 1st 6 months. and continure with BF and solids until after 1 year. They are NOT supportive of many of my decisions as a mother really. I am just scared already. I loved this post. it was actually very comforting, and I have a game plan now!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: how to balance pumping and employment...? is it worth it

    Welcome to the forum, randiocoy! And congrats on your baby. I hope you become a trendsetter in your workplace...

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