You and your baby are in the breastfeeding groove, and you love the bonding each feeding brings. But your life is about to get a lot more hectic with a job in the mix. Whether you plan to express milk to feed your little one while you're at work or to maintain your supply while the two of you are apart, you'll soon be using a breast pump. When I was a new mom, I found it tricky to find the ideal spot and time to use mine. What I craved were solutions -- like these! -- to the perplexing situations pumping can present.
There's no pumping room where I work.
The Fix: Talk to HR about carving out an area. Under the Affordable Care Act (part of the Fair Labor Standards Act), many employers must give nursing moms a place to express milk and "reasonable" unpaid pumping breaks for one year after the birth of a child. This area can't be the bathroom, it should be available when you need it, and you should be shielded from view. If your office has a lactation room, scope it out pre-baby. "I assumed that I could go in and use our 'mothers' room' whenever," says Annie Grant, a mom of two in Newburyport, Massachusetts. "But I had to be added to a special calendar, have my security badge recoded to gain access, and schedule times with another woman. It worked out, but for a few hours, when I was bursting at the seams, I couldn't do what I needed to do."
A pump is an expensive purchase.
The Fix: Priced at $200 to $400, a high-quality electric pump is an investment, but it's still much less than the formula you'd buy if you weren't nursing, says Maeve Howett, Ph.D., R.N., a board-certified lactation consultant at Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing in Atlanta. Just one month of formula can run well over $200, more if you purchase the ready-to-feed kind. And a double electric pump allows you to efficiently pump both breasts at the same time, so you can express enough milk for a full feeding in ten minutes. To save money, register for yours so family or friends can give it to you. If you're making the purchase, check with your health-insurance company; your plan may cover all or part of the cost. If you have a flexible spending account through your employer, save the receipts. Breast-feeding pumps and accessories are eligible for pre-tax dollars from these plans.