It’s official, Mama: You’ve survived the first few weeks of motherhood. Sure, you’re still adjusting to life as Mom. To the fact that you probably haven’t slept more than 4 consecutive hours in who knows how long. To the amazing, yet terrifying realization that, yep, everyone was right — life will never, ever be the same. Because this sweet, snuggly, always-hungry little human is now the official owner of your heart. Your heart and, let’s be honest, your breasts. And yet, slowly but surely, that whirlwind what-day-is-it newborn phase is slowly becoming a distant and hazy memory. You’re kinda, sorta in a routine. You’ve got this “pump while holding baby thing” down to a science. You see the light. Or at least a tinnnnny little flicker.
And then, just when you think things might finally be getting easier, it hits you: you have to go back to work. Like, soon.
We know the feeling, Mama. We really, really (realllllly) do.
But believe us when we say, YOU’VE GOT THIS. Because you’re a mom and that’s just how we do. And because you’re a mom (a kickass mom, we might add), we know there’s a brand new stream of questions and worries running through your mind.
"How can I leave my little person with someone who isn’t me?"
"How can I possibly give 100% at work when I’m running on 4 hours of sleep a night?"
"How will I find time to pump between meetings/classes/patients/trials/site visits?"
"Will my supply drop?"
"Will I ever sleep again?"
"Is there enough food in the world to satisfy my ravenous hunger?"
(That last one may not be work-related, but it’s valid nonetheless.)
Whether you’ve been off for three weeks or three months, going back to work after having a baby is hard emotionally, physically and mentally. Take it from mamas who have been through it before: That first few weeks will be the toughest as you, your partner and your baby adjust to your new schedules and routines. If being a mom wasn’t a full-time job, then throw in the mix of being attached to a device and having a machine milk you like a cow every two to four hours. Then cleaning all the parts, storing the milk, and the extra added pressure and anxiety about whether you’re pumping enough milk. Then add in regular life — work, taking care of a baby, making time for your partner, keeping up with laundry, feeding your family dinner every night, making time to pee … are you exhausted just thinking about it? Us too.
Which is why, dear Mama, you need a plan. A Going-Back-to-Work Plan. A-Let’s-Rock-This-Mother Plan. A Keep-My-Supply-Rockin’ Plan.
The beauty of being a pumping, working mom is that we can learn from those who have pumped before us. Real-life goddesses like Liz, mom of an adorable boy, Colton. She lives in sunny San Diego and currently works full time.
“I started my first week back to work working from home,” says Liz. “What I didn’t plan for was pumping on the days I had to commute into the office. I knew we had a mother’s nursing room, but that was all I knew. On my first day back in the office, I found the nursing room as soon as I got in. I took out my pumping supplies and got my pump on. I repeated going into that room every two hours till it was time to go home. Then, during my last pump session, I was interrupted by a knock on the door and a woman saying, ‘Excuse me, but I have this room reserved.’ I quickly put myself back together and apologized. The lady was nice enough to explain to me how the mother’s room worked. So here was another challenge: to book this room when I needed it; something I hadn’t even thought about.”
So, first things first, let’s pre-plan so you know what to expect on your first day back.
5 Things to Discuss with Your Boss (and/or HR) Before Your First Day Back to Work
One to two weeks before your first scheduled day back, pick up the phone or send a quick email that includes the following questions and info:
- If you don’t have a private office you can pump in, is there a nursing/mother's room?
- If so, where is it? Request that someone show you your designated pumping space on your first day back. If there are other pumping mothers, will you need to reserve the room, and if so, how?
- If there’s no designated nursing room, how do they plan to accommodate your pumping needs? (Remember that by law, if your company employs more than 50 people, it has to provide you with a private space to pump that isn’t a bathroom).
- Is there a fridge to safely store your precious liquid gold?
- Tell your boss what you expect your pumping schedule to be. (Note: we know that depending on your boss, this could be awkward. Just remember that you’re not asking for permission—you’re informing him or her of your reasonable, well thought-out pumping schedule.)
Once you have these questions answered and you’ve let your boss know what’s up, we promise you’ll feel so much more confident about that first day back. We know there’s a lot more to consider as you get ready to make the transition from pumping at home in your yoga pants to pumping at work: your pumping schedule, how to make your pumping breaks as efficient and easy as possible, what to pack in your breast pump bag.
That’s why we’ve put together an essential guide for going back to work — and it’s designed JUST for you, pumping mama. Because we’ve got you — and you’ve got this.
And during those moments and days when you wonder: “How much longer can I do this?” Remember that no matter what, you are awesome. You’re crushing this whole Mom thing — even on days when you feel like you’re not.
Ready to pump like a boss your first week back at work? Yes, please! Sign me up to receive Pump Like a Boss, An essential going-back-to-work guide for pumping mamas
Your free downloadable guide is packed with:
- Sample Pumping Schedule
- Packing Checklist for your Breast Pump Bag
- Pumping Hacks for Working Moms
- Plus, tips from real mamas