Pumping at Work

Pumping at Work While Breastfeeding

Work with your supervisor to find a private place to express your milk. The Affordable Care Act (health care reform) supports work-based efforts to assist nursing mothers. The Department of Labor is proposing a new regulation to allow nursing women reasonable break time in a private place (other than a bathroom) to express milk while at work. (Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to comply if it would cause the company financial strain.)

If your company does not provide a private lactation room, find another private area you can use. You may be able to use:

  • An office with a door

  • A conference room

  • A little-used closet or storage area
The room should be private and secure from intruders when in use. The room should also have an electrical outlet if you are using an electric breast pump. Explain to your supervisor that it is best not to express milk in a restroom. Restrooms are unsanitary; and there are usually no electrical outlets. It can also be difficult to manage a pump in a toilet stall.

Pumping Tips

It may take time to adjust to pumping breast milk in a work environment. For easier pumping, try these tips for getting your milk to let-down from the milk ducts:

  • Relax as much as you can

  • Massage your breasts

  • Gently rub your nipples

  • Visualize the milk flowing down

  • Think about your baby -bring a photo of your baby, or a blanket or item of clothing that smells like your baby

When to Express Milk

At work, you will need to express and store milk during the times you would normally feed your baby. (In the first few months of life, babies need to breastfeed 8 to 12 times in 24 hours.) This turns out to be about 2 to 3 times during a typical 8-hour work period. Expressing milk can take about 10 to 15 minutes. Sometimes it may take longer. This will help you make enough milk for your childcare provider to feed your baby while you are at work. The number of times you need to express milk at work should be equal to the number of feedings your baby will need while you are away.

As the baby gets older, the number of feeding times may go down. Many women take their regular breaks and lunch breaks to pump. Some women come to work early or stay late to make up the time needed to express milk.

Storing your milk

Breast milk is food, so it is safe to keep it in an employee refrigerator or a cooler with ice packs. Talk to your supervisor about the best place to store your milk. If you work in a medical department, do not store milk in the same refrigerators where medical specimens are kept. Be sure to label the milk container with your name and the date you expressed the milk.

Updated June 6, 2016

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