Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Working Mum's Breastfeeding Checklist

It wasn’t something I expected when I went on maternity leave, but on my return to work I was still breastfeeding. My one year old daughter would have short feeds throughout the day. I must admit that I was looking forward to swapping my changing bag for a handbag, comfortable shoes and easy access tops for heels and a shift dress.  As I arrived at work on my first day back with a huge rucksack I was reminded that my life was no longer the same, and for now the handbag would have to stay in the cupboard.

So what were my essentials?
  • One pair of heels (I wear trainers for the trek to nursery, then the station, then the office: a couple of miles each way).
  • A double electric breast pump to maximise the pumping time I had(I used the Ameda Lactaline)
  • A cool bag,with icepack and milk storage containers (I didn’t feel comfortable leaving expressed milk in the work fridge and after one burst milk storage bag I bought proper kit: the Medela cooler bag)
  • My trusty breastfeeding cover (sitting topless in the office, even in a locked room made me uncomfortable)
  • Spare breast pads (I’ve long had nightmares about looking down at my top in a meeting and seeing leakage)
  • A spare top (just in case)
  • A muslin (to cover up my trousers/ skirt in case of spillage)
  • A large plastic food bag (with sterilised pump parts on the way to work, and used parts on the way home)
  • Baby wipes (the many uses of baby wipes deserves its own blog post)
  • Packed lunch (pumping and nursery fees leave no time or money to go out for lunch)

Other useful tips

I found I struggled with the downtime of just sitting and pumping as I’m so used to rushing about, but obviously relaxing and thinking of your child is the best way to encourage milk production.  At first I tried to use this time to meditate, but it didn’t work for me so I found a way to pump handsfree so I could tweet etc. Several of my nursing bras would hold the pump in place without my hands.

Companies don’t have to allow you time to pump, but most will if asked. Speak to your manager and HR (ideally before you go back) to find out if they have any policies, precedents or views. I just told my manager what I was going to be doing, but not everyone will have this option. I was later advised by HR that I could take time out to pump outside of my lunch break, but most days I just don’t have time.

Think about where is suitable to pump. Don’t let anyone suggest you can pump in the toilet, unless you would feel comfortable making and eating your lunch in there. If your company isn't used to pumping ladies it might make it easier if you suggest the place and time that works for you.  I used our first aid room as it is clean, has a power supply, running water and mostly importantly: a lock.

When it's time to stop

After a month I struggled to find the time in the day to pump so I stopped. I am happy that I provided my daughter milk at nursery during the difficult transition.  If she was younger then I would have continued for longer, but after I forgot milk one day it didn’t make any difference to how much she nursed when I was with her and my supply is ok.

And to be honest I’m really enjoying having some me time again.

Ameda Lactaline electric double breast pump and high heels on a wooden floor

If you are want to pump at work you'll know when the time is right for you to stop. It will depend on many things including: the age of your child, the hours you work and how accommodating your work is.

This is my second post for the Keep Britain Breast Feeding Scavenger Hunt as part of National Breastfeeding Week.  If you haven't already please check out some of the other inspirational blog posts and companies supporting the scavenger hunt.  You could win £1000 of breastfeeding goodies, but most important is getting the message out the breastfeeding is normal, that it is better than formula and that it is a realistic option for most mums. No one should make an important decision such as whether to breastfeed or not without being properly informed, and if someone wants to breastfeeding, but is facing challenges they should have access to the information and support they need.

Some of the great blogs involved in the scavenger hunt:
My Thoughts on Things
Let's Walk Together For a While
Life with the Pink Princesses
Twinkle Mummy
Mama Geek

One of the many prizes donated to the grand prize is a nursing bra from my favourite range: Hotmilk. You can see their underwear here. Nursing bras can be sexy!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I tried to express and bottle feed my daughter after she refused to nurse due to tongue tie. I'm not sure why but I only managed for a month as I was getting less and less milk. I would speak to someone if I needed to again as I now know that it is possible to do this for much longer!

  2. I didn't know this, i thought it would all dry up without a baby's time on the boob too.

    1. Babies are more efficient than a pump or hand expressing, but as long as you express regularly (as often as a baby would feed) the milk will still be made

  3. What a great post, thank you for sharing! I'm hoping not to need to do this when I return to work but you just dont know do you. xx

  4. I am in awe of mums who exclusively pump- amazing commitment!

  5. I did know but I cannot imagine how they do it!It must take a huge amount of time and effort!

  6. I have great admiration for a mum who exclusively pumps (no matter the reason)..... I found that expressing is hard work, and time consuming a good pump does help but only so much, and to be dedicated enough to express enough to support a baby completely is definitely an achievement. I expressed quite a bit when my daughter was born as we were put on a feeding plan by the hospital. When my son was born I was generally on my own as my OH worked away in the week, and expressing was just too much with a toddler and a new baby.

  7. well done to them, personally i would miss the closeness i get from nursing.

  8. My cousin pumped exclusively for 8 months (baby couldn't latch) and had mastitis 3 times! She kept going as she wanted to give her baby the best

  9. I did know, lots of reasons for it too. I'm due back at work soon and will be expressing, I have kinda told them the when and where cause no one else has done it before me. I'm just hoping one lunchtime pumping on the 3 days I work will be ok for us and my supply.

  10. I have not known anyone who has pumped exclusively myself but i can see why they do if baby couldn't latch :)

  11. Lots of respect for these women

  12. I wouldn't pump for convenience, only medical reasons as breastmilkfeeding is not the same thing as breastfeeding.

  13. No easy task so full respect x

  14. I wasn't able to pump, so just feed my baby. It was so hard at times, but rewarding.

  15. I'd miss the bond created if I solely used the pump.


  16. I'm in awe of mums who exclusively pump. I pumped for top ups for 6 months and often found it stressful and a bit of a faff.


Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog, I really appreciate it