Type-A Tips for Pumping at Work

Reader Tina wanted advice on how to manage pumping at work. You know how I love to dole out advice. So, here are a few tips for the business lady lactator:

1. Invest in button down shirts.  If you are a lady wearing an untucked button down shirt and carrying a black boxy shoulder bag, you’re a certified Type-A pumper.  Not only can you get to the girls quickly, you don’t have to worry about messing up your hair or getting lipstick on your collar.

I know, I know. You love dresses. But if you are wearing a dress, each time you pump you get to sit in a cold room naked as coworkers and strangers loiter just beyond the door that you pray to all things holy you actually remembered to lock. When you wear a collared shirt, your boobs may be exposed and hooked to a machine, but at least you’ve got sleeves on.

The downside is that about 80% of the time, you’ll leave at least one button on the shirt unbuttoned. You’ll usually discover this right after you make some really smart and savvy comment in a meeting. You’ll cross your arms and sit back in your chair, basking in the  business lady rockstar moment, when a colleague will turn to you and not-at-all whisper, “missed one!”

2. Pump in a room with a lock on the door. If you don’t feel relaxed and comfortable, your production could suffer. Or the anxiety of being walked in on may make you stop pumping all together.  I don’t care if it is a closet, find a locked door. There’s really nothing worse than hearing approaching co-worker voices/footsteps when you are wearing this:

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Although, it is a great pumping bra

Just promise me you’ll never do this unless your are 100% positive there is no way some random guy from finance can accidentally walk in. The party cardi does you no favors here:

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3. Block out time to pump on your office calendar. Create a re-occuring calendar appointment for how ever many times a day you need to pump. And don’t be discrete because no one respects a calendar block labeled “Hold.” Nothing says “unavailable for your pointless meeting about a meeting” like a one hour, color-coded block of time labeled “PUMPING.” Ain’t no body messin’ with that.

Confession: even after I stopped pumping at work, I kept the holds on my calendar. Those two hours a day were my most productive hours–milk or no milk.

4. Buy two pumps or borrow one from a friend. My friend Beth suggested this so I would not have to lug my pump through the DC Metro system twice a day. My friend Erin let me borrow her pump so that I could keep hers at work and leave mine at home. It was fabulous.

5. Do not skip lunch. Everyone respects a pregnant lady’s appetite–because if they don’t, she might punch them in the face–but no one seems to care that a breastfeeding momma needs to consume a ton of calories each day to produce milk.

When you’re already giving up two to three hours of your workday to pump, you may be tempted/pressured to skip lunch to make up for that time. DO NOT DO THAT. Your production will go down, and you’ll start stressing. And stress may slow your flow. Geez, lady. Just block off “FEEDING MYSELF SO I MAY FEED MY INFANT” on your schedule and track down the grilled cheese food truck already. I don’t care if you eat at your desk, just eat.

6. Beware the company fridge. I have traumatic memories of trotting up to the company fridge to proudly store the four ounces of liquid gold I managed to eek out, only to be greeted a colleague’s breastmilk keg. (sigh). I’d end up Sad Charlie Brown walking back to my desk twice a day.

The most I ever managed to pump in one session at work.

The most I ever managed to pump in one session at work. I was giddy!

Don’t be like I was.  Be proud of the fact that you are creating food for your baby WHILE YOU ARE AT WORK. I know you’re an over achiever and what not, but every ounce of breastmilk is a gift! I’m proud of you. Be proud of yourself.

If you have other Type-A Pumping Tips to share, please add them in the comments! 

7 thoughts on “Type-A Tips for Pumping at Work

  1. Reading this as I pump at work. Sweet! I go for the cooler-type lunch box and put my milk (sorry, I’m one of those jugs-o-milk kinds) in it (along with my lunch) to hide it from my office full of men. One other things I believe is a must – the medela microwave sanitizing bags. I may have to lug my pump and bag home with me every night but I keep pump parts and bottles stashed at the office to lessen the load.

  2. Great post as always, Margie — and it’s as though you knew today was a milestone for me: officially the last day I’m pumping at work. Hooray for weaning! Pretty excited to take down the movie theater-style curtain that’s been blocking my office window since I came back from leave. No more questions about re-decorating from new co-works and random guests. 🙂

    I will throw out a couple other things that helped me:
    – In addition to the increased calories, drink TONS of water. I could tell a huge difference in my supply when I was well hydrated.
    – On the relax & yield more front, in the early weeks it helped if I would pause from working and think about or look at a picture of the baby when I was starting a pumping session.
    – Even if you don’t have multiple pumps, invest in multiple sets of the plastic pump parts. Totally worth it to only have to clean once a day rather than after every session. I stashed everything in a plastic bag and then make one trip to the kitchen to clean (or take it home).
    – And I would agree with Chantel about the cooler bag. I took it one step further and avoided the refrigerator completely by bringing a cooler bag with an ice pack every day (the one that came with my pump). I loved being able to have everything contained in my office, and it also helped me remember to always take my milk home.

    • Lisa! These are excellent tips; thank you for taking the time to share them. Congrats on your Last Day of Office Pumping!

  3. Great post, as always! So glad you are back.

    I’m not a button down girl..I refuse to iron. Also, not in corporate America! I like to wear tank tops (personal faves are the ribbed ones at Old Navy) with a shirt over that. This way I can leave the tank down and pull my shirt up. The tank’s neckline will come down enough for pumping access and keeps me covered.

    Oh, and 4oz is about all I get in a session. For a while I could squeeze out 5…now if I get 4 I’m excited!!

  4. Thanks for the post Margie! I plan on putting outlook PUMPING holds on my work calendar tomorrow- good tip! Also comment from Lisa made me laugh- my pumping curtain has drawn a curious eye and questions about redecorating haha!

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