Negotiating your conditions

Setting a schedule

Like most things in parenthood, there’s organising to do, and a routine to settle on. You may want to breastfeed on your days off, and pump on your days at work. Ideally, you would be able to pump every few hours at work (morning, lunch and afternoon), bring the milk home, and provide it for your baby the next day. In terms of time to pump, most women can finish pumping between 15 to 30 minutes, plus 5 minutes either side to set up and clean up.

Sticking to your schedule

Everybody’s work situation is different, but here’s what we’ve seen work well:

  • block out your pumping times in your calendar
  • set expectations that you will not be available at those times
  • leave meetings or sessions on time, even if they’re running over
  • educate your colleagues and organisation about why you’re pumping and how it works. Of course, you don’t have to explain yourself, but sometimes a bit of education can make all the difference to helping others empathise with your situation.
  • Set a reminder or a routine to remember to bring your pump bag to work and collect it before you go home. You don’t want to forget it!

Your ideal pumping schedule can fly out the window as the working day gets away from you. Many women find  

Negotiating pumping room + time

It’s not just on you though. Australian law requires your workplace to accept your request for breaks to pump[4]. [what do they say about places to pump?].

If you’re in a position to negotiate, here are some other items to try to include:

  • Dignified place to pump, that is quiet, dedicated for pumping, and has a lockable door, fridge, sink, drying rack and storage.
  • More than one dedicated room, so you don’t have to awkwardly share with a workmate. You may find that you need space and mental calmness to get a letdown and having a workmate next to you can make this awkward and difficult.
  • Pump itself. Many workplaces in the United States provide the pump itself, so that mothers only need to bring in a flange set rather than lugging the pump back and forth.
  • Reduced or extra expenses for travel. Some jobs are more travel-heavy or travel-incentivised (a.k.a better jobs go to people who travel) than others. Try to negotiate other options for travel, or even for expenses for your partner or a carer to join you and your baby.
  • On-site childcare. Why not go for broke, and advocate for childcare in the office. That way you can duck in to see your baby and feed if that’s what you would prefer.

Mamava, is a US-based company that advocates for better conditions for women who pump at work, airports and public venues. They have scripts that you could use to help start the conversation with your employer. See here.