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Working remotely or from home has its perks—but how does breastfeeding fit in?
If you’re a working mom who breastfeeds, you have to juggle all the demands of your job and your regular pumping breaks. What if you don’t work in a typical office setting? As more moms fight for a flexible schedule—whether that’s working remotely as an employee or working from home as a freelancer or business owner—those lines between work and mom-life become more flexible too. While that flexibility can boost your chances for breastfeeding success, it can also leave you feeling unsure about how to navigate the sometimes-blurry boundaries. That’s why we rounded up our top tips for WFH breastfeeding moms. Read on!
Be your own advocate.
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 likely have to provide a reasonable amount of break time to pump by law. Even though you aren’t physically in an office, you need time to pump (or nurse, if your childcare is also at home). Many people are uneducated or misinformed about breastfeeding, so don’t be afraid to speak up and let them know what you need. If you work for a company that’s wary about how you’re using your time, reassure them that moms are some of the most efficient and productive workers out there—because with so much on our plates, we have to be! Flexibility is really a win-win for both sides.
Plan pumping breaks.
While working from home, you might be hopping on conference calls, joining video meetings or answering the phone. Block out pumping sessions on your daily calendar and do what you can to plan meetings around them. Use your pumping time to multitask (or take a well-deserved break!). For audio calls, you may feel comfortable pumping while on the line, perhaps on mute if you don’t have to lead the call. A quiet pump with a blanket thrown over it may make the motor’s sounds hardly noticeable!
Enjoy the comforts and cleanliness of home.
The 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 fridge. But whatever you do, don’t use pumping breaks to do all the household things. It might feel good to throw in a load of laundry if you have a few minutes, but pumping should take priority—for your health and your baby’s needs. (But hey, if you’re not on the clock, a midday nap is a refreshing WFH perk!)
If you’re working remotely but not necessarily from home—say, you’re visiting a client in person or knocking out a project at a co-working space—you will need to plan for a place to pump. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. 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. You’re doing an important job, not only as a working mom but also in feeding your baby. There’s nothing wrong with politely and professionally speaking up for your needs.
Make it 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 at home. This can sound like an ideal situation because you can take breaks to nurse, rather than hook up to a 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.
Lean on your support network.
You don’t have to do it all, and you don’t have to do it alone. Working from home can be a bit isolating, so be sure to stay connected to others, especially those who support your commitment to breastfeeding. Find childcare that fits with your WFH lifestyle. Touch base with mom friends within your company or fellow freelancers. Turn to resources like our team at Ashland Breast Pumps or the breastfeeding experts at the Lactation Network. We can help you find a pump that’s ideal for your work-from-home lifestyle and figure out the ideal pumping routine for your busy workdays.
The important thing is to make working from home work for you, whatever that looks like. These days, working doesn’t have to be restricted to a 9-to-5 job in an office. We have a lot of options, and that’s fantastic for moms who want to work and breastfeed. So rock that WFH mom life! We’re here to support you in all you do.