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If you’re returning back to work but want to continue your breastfeeding journey it is possible, here’s how to prepare for pumping at work

 

Even if you have a supportive employer, it is rather scary to think about how to express your breastmilk at work. Will you be able to have privacy? The good news is, with good communication and planning, you can make expressing at work a success for you, your employer and your baby.

 

Here are Mrs Milks top tips for pumping at work.

 

1: Know your rights

In South Africa you are legally entitled to express breast milk for your baby at work and your employer should allow time for 2 x 30 minute breast pumping breaks over and above your lunch break.

This can be found in the following places:

  • Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, No 108 of 1996
  • Labour Relations Act, No 66 of 1995 as amended
  • Basic Conditions of Employment Act, No 75 of 1997
  • Employee Equity Act, No 55 of 1998
  • Code of Good Practice on the Protection of Employees during pregnancy and after the birth of a child as per the regulation Gazette No 6342 of 1998, issued in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1997

 

2: Be prepared

Make sure you have everything you need to pump, collect, store and transport your breast milk.

You will need the following:

  • A pump
  • collection bottles / milk storage bags  
  • a cooler bag for transporting your milk
  • microwave sanitising bags / cleaning up
  • nursing pads and a spare top in case of milk leakage
  • clothes that allow easy access to your breasts  

 

3: Remember to eat & drink

As busy working moms we sometimes find ourselves so wrapped up in our workday so that we are able to leave work on time and get home to our little bundles of joy. Remember, it is impossible to pour from an empty cup. Keep a bottle of water on your desk to keep you hydrated as well as a Mrs Milk Lactation Oat bar on hand. Our convenient bars are individually wrapped and allow easy snacking. 

 

4: Find a space

Your employer should offer a private room (not a toilet) for you to pump in. This might be a medical or interview room, or anywhere you can express comfortably without being disturbed. We have made a sign you can download here to stick on the door to help you feel more comfortable that people will not interrupt you.

 

 

5: Storage

Have somewhere safe and cool for storing breast milk. Remember, we live at the bottom of Africa and we have hotter days than Europe – so make sure milk is not left out too long. If it’s a shared work fridge, clearly label your milk in breast milk storage bags or bottles.

 

6: Keep things cool

Milk that you express one day can be given to your baby the next, so there’s normally no need to freeze it. When kept chilled in the fridge (and in a cooler bag when transported between work and home), breast milk remains safe for your baby to drink for three days – or up to five in very clean conditions. We will be sharing tips from our Lactation consultant Niyati for you to learn from.

 

7: Stick to a pumping schedule.

Try pump your milk whenever your baby would usually breastfeed. This will help you collect enough for his/her feeds and maintain your breast milk supply.

 

8: Practice makes perfect

Arrange a practice day to help put your mind at ease. Or try make your first day back towards the end of the week (Thursday or Friday), so you can get the hang of expressing and transporting your milk before tackling a whole working week.


Combining work with parenting and breastfeeding is tiring – especially while you’re getting used to it, or if your baby still wakes at night. Take it one day at a time, look after yourself, and rest assured things should become easier as your baby gets older and you both become accustomed to this big change.