Home Sweet Home
While home is your ideal pumping zone, it is still important to establish a pumping area—especially if you have a busy household. To pump effectively you must be able to relax to allow let down to occur. Some women have a harder time with achieving a strong let down than others. If you are distracted by other children or lots of noise from neighbors—this may make pumping more challenging.
So, the best scenario for pumping at home would be to have an area just for you to pump. A private, quiet area with a door that locks. If you don’t have an extra room but have multiple bathrooms, you could use a bathroom—one where you will not be disturbed. You need to have access to an electrical outlet for your breast pump, a comfortable place to sit, and a place to set your bottles and other accessories.
Other things that you might want to have nearby include: cell and/or home phone, something to drink, a snack (e.g. granola bar), photographs of your baby or something to remind you of him (this encourages your body to let down your milk supply), magazines, Kindle, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, a clean hand towel, and breast pads.
When you are finished you will want to have access to a bathroom or if necessary the kitchen sink to wash up.
You might be feeling anxious and dreading returning to work due to having to pump at your place of work. This is normal, especially in the very beginning. After a few weeks when you have a routine set up and are feeling more confident the anxiousness you feel should lessen.
Having the ability to pump in a private room with a locking mechanism on the door is important to pumping efficiently. If you have to pump in a room that’s open to the public you will feel vulnerable and less secure. This will in turn cause you more difficulty in releasing milk.
You may or may not be the first woman at your workplace to need a private room for pumping. If you aren’t the first and there is already a specific room just for pumping---feel incredibly lucky! More and more employers are getting lactation rooms but change of any kind is a slow process. Within the next decade lactation rooms should be the norm rather than the exception.
At your place of work you need a space that meets a few different criteria, these include:
- Private room with a lock.
- Access to a restroom to wash your hands and clean up afterwards.
- Electrical outlet.
- Refrigerator or if you have your own insulated bag, like the Kaylaa breast pump bag found here.
If your employer is unable to provide you with a separate private room you can ask for your employer to provide you with a privacy screen or purchase one yourself. They’re relatively inexpensive and do an effective job at protecting your modesty. The main issue is if you have a noisy breast pump it could be distracting to your co-workers, however, the majority of the newer breast pump models are super quiet.
What Are My Rights?
You may be wondering if you have any rights as a nursing mother and the answer is, yes you do!
The Affordable Care Act has policies in place to encourage working mothers to continue providing their babies with nutritious breast milk. If your employer does not have over 50 employees and is not covered by the FLSA than they might be exempt from these policies.
If your employer does have over 50 employees and is covered by the FLSA than they must follow these guidelines:
- They must provide a place for you to pump that is not a bathroom. It must be a private area with a secure lock on the door.
- They must provide you with enough time to pump up until your baby is one year old. (They are not, however, required to compensate you for this time.)
Pumping is not an easy thing to do, especially when you aren’t in the comfort of your own home. You are going to have a love-hate relationship with pumping.
Some days are going to go better than others. You are going to want to throw in the towel at some point.
Here’s what you have to remember, this is only a very short period of your life. It will not last forever. What you are doing is extremely selfless and nothing short of amazing.
Your healthy, happy baby might not understand what you are doing now but the benefits far outweigh any discomfort or frustration you are going through.