Breastfeeding and Pumping at Work: Staying Safe & Keeping Peace of Mind During COVID-19
As our region is headed for the Governor’s yellow reopening phase at the beginning of June, many moms are heading back to work on location for the first time in a few months; others might already be onsite in essential positions. Either way, that probably means breastfeeding and pumping!
Maybe heading back to the office is a relief because you’ve missed your dedicated work time and space, not to mention seeing colleagues in person. Or maybe breastfeeding on demand and getting extra time with your little one while working from home or on a work hiatus has been enjoyable. Maybe a little of both?!? Whatever you’re feeling, you are definitely not alone!
The pandemic is stressful in many ways, and transitioning to breastfeeding and pumping at work during COVID-19 adds a new layer of anxiety to the situation. Perhaps you’re leaving baby for the first time and aren’t sure you’ll be able to pump enough; maybe you’ve had to find a new caregiver or send baby to a daycare setting where you’re concerned about a higher risk of exposure.
Help Keep Peace of Mind While Breastfeeding and Pumping
Here are a few easy things you can do to help you keep peace of mind while you breastfeed and pump at work:
- As usual, wash your hands carefully before and after pumping – also consider washing or wiping your breasts.
- Consider bringing a fresh change of clothes (or at least shirt) for each pumping session, particularly if you work in a health field or are regularly exposed to COVID-19 patients.
- Sterilize your bottles and pump parts more frequently (perhaps daily), and follow CDC guidelines on keeping your pump kit clean; you can also acquire extra sets of pump parts so that you always have a clean set ready.
- Bring sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and a bottle of water in your pumping bag. (Remember to hydrate – taking care of yourself is critical in times of stress).
Talk to Your Employer
Another great idea is to talk to your employer in advance. While employers are required to provide a clean space to pump in, there is now some concern that multiple employees will be using the same small room several times per day – perhaps without much time for a deep clean between users.
There is also a chance that viral particles will linger in the air of a small room. Is there a way for your employer to mitigate these risks? Perhaps they could try some of the following ideas to increase your comfort level with breastfeeding and pumping at work:
- Designate additional pumping rooms that could be shared among fewer staff people. This might be possible if there are still some staff working remotely.
- Require pumping moms to wear a mask while pumping.
- Ensure proper cleaning between users.
- Dedicate one refrigerator for milk only (so that it does not have to be stored in a shared fridge with lunches, etc.).
- Collectively create a new user protocol including how to use the space and how to keep it clean for others; building trust among the pumping moms might help everyone feel more comfortable.
Visit the BRC for Breastfeeding and Pumping Support
And of course the BRC is here to help you with any questions you may have about breastfeeding and pumping at work (don’t forget our handy guide). One of the biggest concerns when families return to
work is the caregiver over-feeding the baby. This brochure will help guide the process. Your dedication to breastfeeding and pumping at work is incredible and you’ve got this!
Many thanks to Colette Acker, Casey Ann Beck, & Jackie Maniscalco for their contributions to