The Pump Plan

Mona Hickey

Posted By: Mona Hickey

I went back to work at eight weeks. The biggest fear I have is that my milk is going to dry up. I can't stress out because it zaps milk supply! How do I keep zen about something I have become obsessed with?

I had planned on a short maternity leave, one of only eight weeks. My work does not provide paid leave, so I had rolled together all the vacation days and sick days together and was left with a paltry amount. There was nothing I could do about it without harming my family financially, so an eight-week maternity leave is what I requested. What I had not expected or included in my great postpartum plan was how I was going to keep integrate pumping into my routine once my leave ended and I headed back to the office. It was easy to breastfeed on demand because I was at home, but at work, it proved to be more challenging.

I knew I had the basic necessities to pump at work: a breast pump, bottles, relaxing music and a photo slideshow of my son on my iPhone. I had packed my laptop, my lunch, my pump on that first day, ready to tackle the life of Mona Hickey: Nursing Mother, Working Mother, Woman Warrior.

The first morning I carried my large black bag to the ladies restroom, ready and armed. The restroom on my floor is odd. You enter a door and walk down a short hallway to another room with only one toilet in it. There's a lock on the door, but I am always afraid that the mechanism will fail and someone will walk in and see what cannot be unseen.

Aside from that paranoia, my first challenge was assembling the pump, tubes and bottles all while keeping them from touching the floor or anything else in the room. The pump seemed like a breeze to assemble at home, but that first time in the ladies room, it felt like I was trying to disassemble an atomic bomb. I was a sweaty mess, hunched over shoving my breasts into the plastic shields while eyeing the milk level, all while trying to relax! When I heard the metal rattling of a woman entering bathroom hall, I used my free hand to pound on the metal toilet paper dispenser so they would know that the room was occupied.

And somehow I managed to pump three more times that day, a schedule I have been able to keep despite meetings, mailings, etc. I just experiment with what I do during each session. Some days I sniff the onesie my son's slept in or watch a video of us together or catch funny cat videos on YouTube. But every time I walk into that stall, pump in tow, I am more prepared than the time before.

10:58am on Tuesday August 3


11:46am on Thursday October 11

wow! you are Woman Warrior! It sucks pumping. But thankfully I am blessed with a spare office and supportive coworkers. I actually like the "break" time too as work is so stressful and now I can take time to get online and a bit of "me" time during my day. However I hate having to constantly ask or schedule for someone to be at hte desk while I am on the run and so on. But it's still so WORTH IT! Good luck all nursing and working momma' are all so AWESOME!!

11:59pm on Tuesday October 19

Wow! I can relate to everything you are going through. I breastfed and pumped for my 4 year old daughter during my first year of residency. Now I'm doing the same for my 9month old son. Its definitely easier the second time around because I had friends who have given me lots of helpful advise. I want to thank you for sharing your experiences because it helps to know that other people are going through the same thing. I love breastfeeding and hope more people are inspired by these blogs.

11:48pm on Monday September 27

Thanks for this motivation! I am in graduate school, and I share an office with 3 other people, so it has been difficult finding places to pump. Sometimes I do it in our office if no one else is there, other days I use other professors' offices if they are not there for the day, but it is always nerveracking because even though I have their permission, I am afraid they will walk in during the middle of pumping. I have also been afraid that I will knock the milk over when packing up and ruin all their paperwork!

3:41am on Tuesday September 21

Hi Sarah--Just to clarify, I don't *have* to pump in a stall. Sometimes that's the only space I have available. It's become much easier to get a private space, but you're very right about what employers are obligated to provide.

7:59pm on Friday September 3

Oh my goodness GO MAMA!!! I'm returning to work in 3 weeks and I'm TERRIFIED about pumping there. There 2 other nursing moms who will need to share the room plus people who need to use it for getting ready (it's a makeup room, I'm a reporter). I worry about time too... Before leave I didn't have time to eat lunch much less time for 3 pumping breaks. I guess I'll just have to make it a priority.

6:19pm on Friday September 3

I can so relate to your sweaty assembly of the pump! It does seem much more difficult when you're crunched for time or not at home.

Maine Mom of 3
9:19pm on Thursday September 2

Keep up the GREAT work! I cannot imagine trying to do all of that, but really, mothers are amazing creatures. REading that you sniffed the onesie he slept in the night nefore nearly brought tears to my eyes. I love my little boy so much, even if he is the worst 10 month old sleeper in the world!

9:00pm on Thursday September 2

Mona - I am so surprised and can't believe that you have to pump in a bathroom stall. There was new legislation that came out around April/May this year:
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are now required to furnish “reasonable” breaks to nursing mothers to express milk for their infants. This was provided in a provision adding the following as a new subsection (r):

An employer shall provide:

(A) a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth; and

(B) a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.

There are two exceptions to these requirements under the health care law:

•Employers are not required to pay employees who take a breastfeeding break—unless a state law says otherwise.

•An employer with less than 50 employees is exempt if the requirements would “impose an undue hardship” by causing it “significant difficulty or expense” as compared to the employer’s size, resources and business structure. I hope this helps. I work in HR and at a hospital - I think this is a huge step for the working, nursing mother.

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