Pumping at work: A few tips from the experts

If you're returning to work as a pumping mom, be prepared for some challenges. Luckily, there are experts who can provide some guidance ahead of time.

By Pamela Diamond



Breastfeeding and returning to work means the process of pumping milk needs to be effective and efficient.

There is more to effective pumping than just the pump, however. Clarifying one’s specific needs, having a proper flange fit, knowing when and how long to pump, and utilizing practical pumping tips will make pumping more pleasurable, easier, and more effective. 

Jeanette Mesite Frem, International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and owner of the website Babies In Common, stays up to date on the latest equipment on the market. Recommendations on best pumping practices have changed over the years. An expert like Jeanette can help a pumping parent evaluate which products are helpful and which ones might not be. She passes on her knowledge in a course specifically about pumping and bottle-feeding called Let It Flow – a live, interactive online workshop for parents and parents-to-be.

“There are so many pumps on the market today, and it seems like more come out every week,” Jeanette said. “Some pumps are more appropriate for those who have low milk supply and/or need to pump full-time, and other pumps are more appropriate for those who pump occasionally or have a lot of milk.” 

There’s new information around flange fitting that I wish I had known years ago. Instructions that may come with pumps or that are likely found on the internet may be old news, Jeanette said. 

“What may end up being even more important than the pump is the flange one uses, as pumps typically come with flanges that are too large for most parents,” she explained. “More recently IBCLCs, other lactation helpers and parents are finding that smaller flanges are working the best.” 

Working with an IBCLC can help you customize your decision by identifying specific needs to consider when choosing a pump. Connecting with an IBCLC while pregnant has the added advantage of having a professional resource on hand should you need one after baby arrives. Many do telehealth consultations now, too, and most insurance companies are covering or reimbursing IBCLC visits.

Finally, keep in mind that insurance may cover the cost or reimburse you a certain amount toward the purchase of a breast pump. Contact your insurance agent to learn more. 

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