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Here is our best advice for work-from-home moms breastfeeding their babies
As the pandemic continues into the new year and we move further into the era of remote work, the line dividing work and home continues to blur for all at-home workers—but especially moms. For those of us balancing work and motherhood, whether temporarily or permanently, the challenges are real. That’s why we’ve compiled our best advice for navigating those sometimes-blurry boundaries for work-from-home moms to help you feel successful both at work and caring for your little one.
Set up a designated work area
Especially if you’re working from home with a new baby, having a specific spot in your house where you are “at work” gets you into the right mental headspace and helps improve your productivity. It also helps signal to everyone else that you’re at work and shouldn’t be disturbed. Your workspace can range from a home office with a locking door to a simple table set up in your living area or bedroom. Our pro tip: If possible, position yourself so that dirty dishes and laundry are out of sight to rid yourself of physical and mental clutter.
Be your own advocate
If you’re breastfeeding, you will likely need to advocate for yourself when it comes to regular pumping or nursing breaks. Depending on the company or clients you work for, they may or may not be aware of a breastfeeding mom’s need for regular pumping breaks. If you were working in an office, your employer would have to provide a reasonable amount of break time to pump by law. And, even though you aren’t physically in the office, you still need time to pump (or nurse). Because many people are uneducated or misinformed about breastfeeding, you may need to speak up and let them know what you need.
Set a pumping schedule
Sticking to a pumping schedule while working from home not only helps you plan out your workday, it also lets you be intentional with time when it comes to feeding your baby. While the number of pumping breaks you take may depend on your baby’s age and your breastfeeding goals, aim for sessions that completely empty your breasts. A lactation consultant can help you navigate both breastfeeding and pumping while working from home with a baby—and troubleshoot any issues that come up. If you aren’t sure what breast pump best fits your needs and lifestyle, take our quiz to find out.
Make the most of pumping breaks
While working from home, you might be hopping on conference calls, joining video meetings or answering the phone while pumping. If you feel comfortable doing so, pumping during a call can help you better manage your time. Be sure to choose a quiet breast pump or throw a blanket over your pump to make the motor’s sounds hardly noticeable. For video calls, angle your camera slightly upward and be sure to check your preview before joining. Even if pumping on a video call isn’t for you, you may feel comfortable expressing breast milk while on a phone call or when only sharing audio. If you don’t have to lead the call, consider turning on mute when you aren’t speaking. Otherwise, block out pumping sessions on your daily calendar and do what you can to plan meetings around them. You can also use your pumping time to multitask by responding to emails (or taking a well-deserved break!). The other great part about working (and pumping) from home? You know you can wash your pump parts at a clean sink and store your milk in your own fridge.
Make WFH work for your unique circumstances
Your job responsibilities, schedule, childcare and other factors will all play into how you make working from home work. Some moms who work from home hire a sitter or nanny to watch their child while they’re on the clock. Childcare allows these moms to take breaks to nurse, rather than hook up to a breast pump. If you go this route, consider your working style and schedule. A nursing baby might not fall into a set schedule, so you may not be able to anticipate timing for nursing breaks, and an older baby could have a difficult time separating from you again after nursing. Be realistic and know it might take some trial and error to find the best work-life flow.
You may have questions for your employer or HR department regarding pumping breaks. Be sure to jot down and ask any questions you might have so that when your maternity leave ends, you’ll have the answers you need to get back into the swing of things. Also, if you’re working remotely but have to occasionally go into the office or visit clients in person, don’t be afraid to ask questions and plan for a place to pump. Ask the front desk or your main contact if there is a private, preferably locked space where you can pump (with an outlet, if you need one), and be specific about the times you’d like to use it.
Especially after having a new baby, working remotely can sometimes feel busy and isolating. It’s important for moms to prioritize their physical and mental health by practicing regular self-care. Whether you get together with a friend to chat virtually or take some time to yourself to unwind or exercise, you-time is important. You’ve taken on the new and fulfilling role of being a mother, but you’re still you, so take a few moments to cultivate your interests and relationships.
Lean on your support network
As a new work-from-home mom, remember: You don’t have to do it all, and you don’t have to do it alone. If working from home feels isolating, be sure to stay connected to others, especially those who support your commitment to breastfeeding. Other mom friends will have even more advice and tips for achieving work-life balance with a baby. Finally, if you feel comfortable doing so, consider childcare that fits with your WFH lifestyle, such as daycare or in-home help for a few hours a day or more. If your partner is also at home, pumping can help you share parenting duties—if you build up a stash of breast milk, your partner can take over some of the feeding sessions.
The important thing is to make working from home work for you, whatever that looks like. At Ashland Breast Pumps, we can help you get an insurance-covered breast pump that fits with your needs as a work-from-home mom.