Some women hesitate to continue breastfeeding because they worry about how expressing milk at work might affect their professional image. It might seem shallow, but in reality, their fears have a basis. We’re expected to be efficient and professional at work and pumping milk at the workplace may give the wrong impression to some of our officemates because it seems so personal and time consuming.
It’s possible to be both an efficient professional and a committed breastfeeding mother. Here are some tips I can share based on my experience at work:
Prepare To Breastfeed In Advance
Way before you go on maternity leave, establish the fact that you’ll be breastfeeding and plan to continue to do so when you get back to work. This will prepare your officemates for the changes that will happen in your work routine or schedule.
If you don’t have your own room, talk to your HR about what rooms you can use to express milk. Send an email to your admin department to document the arrangements you’ve agreed upon. This way, you’ll be confident that you have the support of your company and are following policies when you get back to work and start pumping.
It is important that you talk to your superior about your plans to express milk at work. Assure him or her that even though you’ll be spending time away from your work station to do your milk expression, your performance and deliverables at work will not be affected. If other officemates go on coffee breaks and cigarette breaks, you’re entitled to your breast pumping break.
Be Open Minded And Confident About Your Breastfeeding
Most importantly, be open-minded when your officemates ask you, or even joke about your pumping duties. Don’t take offense when they crack green jokes. Be confident that there’s nothing naughty about expressing breast milk. Answer leading questions in a factual and scientific manner and come up with replies that will make them understand that breastfeeding is one of the most natural and beneficial things a mother would do.
At first, it was really hard for me to just ignore the sexual innuendos in the conversations I would have with my officemates about breastfeeding. Eventually, they realized how serious I was with what I was doing and later on, they were genuinely interested in how breastfeeding and breast pumps work. Just keep in mind that as long as your new pumping duties do not affect your productivity at work, then you can hold your head up high and be proud that you’re giving your baby the best nutrition he can ever have.
Photography by Jun Pinzon
What's your personal tip when it comes to expressing milk at work? We'd love to know. Fill up the comment form below.