An Ultimate Guide to Pumping at Work Etiquette


Are you returning to work after maternity leave? Are you sweating thinking about the idea of pumping at work? If so, you are not alone. Pumping at work is awkward. Some people even find it nauseating. No wonder, many women feel so nervous at the very idea of breast pumping at work.

For new moms, back-to-work can be quite hectic after a baby arrives. This is especially true if you’re deciding to milk for the baby at work. I’ve pulled together several helpful tips to ensure an easy transition back to work as you add pumping to your calendar.

Pumping at Work Etiquette

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers must provide a functional space for use of expressing milk at work. Many employers are not unaware of what a new mom needs, so before you go back to work, suggest for what you might need for an easy transition. If you are unsure of your rights as a breastfeeding employee, you may want to get that information here.

  1. Talk to your boss or HR manager to figure out what room you’ll be pumping in after you return to work.
  2. Pump on time. Ideally, you’ll want to pump as often as your baby is fed, or every three hours. Otherwise, you could risk dealing with the embarrassment of leaking at work.
  3. Schedule your pump breaks. This way your coworkers won’t schedule meetings around those times.
  4. Keep all the equipment as clean as possible. Wash your hands before and after you’re done pumping at work.
  5. Store your milk in a nondescript lunch bag in the fridge. This way no one will know what’s in the bag.
  6. Remember, it’s your right to pump at work. But this doesn’t mean your coworkers are required to cover your tasks, such as taking client calls or meetings, while you pump at work. (See pt. 3 and schedule your pump breaks.)
  7. If you find a coworker making inappropriate comments, don’t engage him/her – tell your HR that he/she is making your feel uncomfortable.
  8. Consider taking your coworker out for coffee or lunch if they went above and beyond to support you after you went back-to-work. It’s a good way of thanking your super-supportive coworker/s.

It’s quite stressful to go back to work after childbirth. As we’ve seen here, just the ins and outs of pumping at work are headache-inducing. If you are still trying to figure out the whole back-to-work thing, you might want to write to my colleague, Jane Harper. Pumping at work must not only be acceptable but also promoted. Good luck!

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Diana Coker
Diana Coker is a staff writer at The HR Digest, based in New York. She also reports for brands like Technowize. Diana covers HR news, corporate culture, employee benefits, compensation, and leadership. She loves writing HR success stories of individuals who inspire the world. She’s keen on political science and entertains her readers by covering usual workplace tactics.

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