July 5, 2024


Breastfeeding as a Working Mom

By: Hannah McCann

As a new mom I will pump or feed every 3 hours for about 20 to 25 minutes at a time. That is about 2 to 3 hours a day, not including the time spent cleaning pump parts or bagging up extra milk. When all is said and done, I will spend over 1,000 hours a year just expressing milk. That is at least a part time job, if not a full time job when you consider the additional time spent on maintenance and actually feeding your child. As a working mom, this is a lot to balance, but it isn’t impossible. Knowing your rights and some pumping tips can help!

Breastfeeding mothers have rights under the PUMP (Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers) Act that was signed into law on December 29, 2022. Some of these rights protected by the Department of Labor include paid break time for both salary and hourly employees to express milk and a private space, other than a bathroom, to do so. This is in effect for the entire first year of your child’s life. Individual states may also offer more protections, so do your research and know your rights!

Returning to work brought some challenges, but I have learned a few tips that have helped me be successful at continuing my breastfeeding journey:

1. Invest in a good pump- Find a pump that effectively expresses milk for you and meets your needs! Before returning to work, I decided to pick up the Willow Go pumps. A priority for me was to be able to multitask. Although I had my standard pump that was provided by insurance, a hands free pump allows me to maximize my time at work.  A big part of my work environment is being able to socialize with my coworkers. As a high school teacher I choose to pump during my lunch time since that is my longest stretch without any students needing me. These pumps are quiet and discreet enough that I can pump while in department meetings, or if you are on a call. 

2. Find a storage and cleaning method that works for you- Half the battle of pumping is cleaning your parts and storing the milk. I found that the pitcher method works best for me. This is where I purchased a jar pitcher and I combine all my milk together when it is the same temperature in the fridge. I will then divide up my milk at home into bottles for daycare and put any excess in storage bags to freeze. For cleaning, I use the Dapple Baby Breast Pump Wipes to quickly clean my pump parts and the Medela Quick Sanitizing spray to disinfect.

3. Set a routine- Having a schedule has helped me avoid becoming engorged or leaking throughout the day. It also has helped me with communicating with my co-workers because they know when I am available and when I am busy pumping. This may change based on what your work day looks like, but for me this means pumping before school and during some passing periods as needed. Your job should respect your time spent pumping.

Being a working mom and breastfeeding can be hard, but you’ve got this! Know your rights and find what works best for you to continue your journey of feeding your baby and being a successful employee.