The Best Products for mamas heading back to work

Dreading going back to work after your maternity leave? Believe me, I’ve been there! Not to say that I don’t love my job…because I do! But who wants to go to work when you have a tiny human at home who you just want to soak up every minute with?

It was a bittersweet time for me. I didn’t want to leave my little one, yet I was anxious to be back in the “real world”, have adult conversations, and think of something other than diapers and naps.

Of course guilt started to creep in plus the overwhelm of everything I had to do to prepare to head back to work. (To read my step by step guide for returning to work after leave, click here).

breastfeeding at work
back to work breastfeeding
pumping at work

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Breastfeeding and working full time

Trust me, this is not an easy thing. If you are breastfeeding and pumping and heading back to work full time, I applaud you. Pumping at work can be extremely time consuming, frustrating, and draining at times.

I almost quit a couple of times. But I had to keep reminding myself of why I was doing it in the first place. I wanted to provide my own nutrition to my baby boy despite how much I HATED pumping. That was motivation enough for me.

When I got back to work, I had such a difficult time with pumping. At home, I could pump 5 oz from one side in about 20 minutes. I did not have a milk supply problem. Then, I started working. It took me 40 minutes to get 5 oz from both sides.

The ease of milkflow when you are relaxed and near your baby is no joke. That was when I started to eat foods that were known to improve milk supply. And they actually worked!

Through the frustration and tears, I knew I had to get organized. So I thought of all of the things that had helped me to be successful with the back-to-work transition. And…here they are!

Back to work must haves

1. your breast pump (at no cost to you!)

Mama must haves: spectra breast pump

If you haven’t heard of Aeroflow Breastpumps, you are SERIOUSLY missing out. They are an incredible company that have taken all of the guesswork and hard work out of getting your breast pump through insurance. All you have to do is fill out a questionnaire and they contact your insurance and your doctor for you. I was dreading dealing with my insurance to get my free pump, but they turned it into a dream.

Aeroflow has an amazing selection of breast pumps to choose from. After doing a ton of research, I chose the Spectra S2 (I would have loved an S1 for the convenience of not being tied down to an electrical outlet, but my insurance wouldn’t cover the S1). As much as I hate pumping, I love my pump. I highly recommend the Spectra!

2. pumping bag

Sarah Wells pumping bag with spectra breastpump inside

Another great thing about Aeroflow is that you can bundle your pump with a pumping bag (no, unfortunately insurance doesn’t pay for your pumping bag). I love the Sarah Wells bags that they offer. They are perfect for the working mama. you have plenty of room for all of your pumping supplies AND your laptop and other personal items. This made lugging my pump back and forth much easier because everything was in one bag as opposed to 3 or 4.

3. the pumparoo

Sarah Wells pumping accessory bag with pump bottles drying

The pumparoo is another ingenious product by Sarah Wells. It is a wet/dry bag with a “staging mat” attached so that you can place your pump parts on a clean surface while you assemble or disassemble your pumping parts. I loved this since I work in a school setting and you never know what germs can be lurking around. I easily stored my pumping parts in the wet/dry bag and used the “staging mat” as a place to get ready to pump. In addition, I also used it as a drying mat after I was done cleaning my parts in between pumping sessions.

4. disinfecting products

Disinfecting your pump in between sessions is not fun, but it is necessary. The two things I found that made it a breeze were the Medela Steam Clean bags and the Medela Disinfecting Wipes. I only had to pump twice at work. After my first session, I rinsed my parts and then used the Steam bags to steam clean them before my second session. After my second session, I wiped down my pump and my pumping parts with the disinfecting wipes, placed them in my pumparoo, and then brought them home to wash them thoroughly. I also used the wipes to disinfect my pumparoo staging mat as well.

5. Breastmilk storage bags

This is more of an item you would use to prep going back to work as you want to build a freezer supply in case of emergency. I don’t keep a lot of milk in the freezer and I update my freezer stash constantly since I know my milk changes as my baby’s needs change. These storage bags are great because they are compact and they don’t leak if you follow the directions.

6. nursing pads

Kindred Bravely reusable nursing pads

Just like you don’t want your storage bags leaking in the freezer, you also don’t want leaky ladies while you are having a convo with your boss. I used two types of nursing pads. First, I used reusable pads. These were super absorbent and discrete. I also used these disposable ones. I liked how they had adhesive on the back so that they stayed in place and they had the stay dry feature, which was great when I was having some irritation.

7. The ultimate nursing/pumping bra

Kindred bravely nursing and pumping bra

Oh. My. Word! If there is one thing you have to invest in, it is this bra. When I tell you that it is the most comfortable nursing and pumping bra, I mean it. It’s like being on a cloud (not really, but you get the idea). Having a nursing and pumping combination bra made all the difference to me. I loved being able to pump and nurse without having to change bras. If there is something a mama craves, it is convenience! I tried a few combination bras, but there is absolutely no comparison with this one. It surpasses them all. If you don’t take my word for it, know that this bra is so amazing that they can’t keep it in stock! Needless to say, with the great price, I own a couple=)

8. Milk supply goodies

When I realized how difficult it would be to maintain my milk supply while at work, I knew I needed some outside help. In addition to eating some known milk producing foods every day like oatmeal, I drank this tea. Not only was it delicious, but I did find an increase in my supply. After adding the tea, I decided I wanted another milk boost. Therefore, I did some more research and found this drink mix. This combo was a definite winner for me. Hopefully, it will work for you too!

9. Haakaa

I was a skeptic of the Haakaa at first. I didn’t think there was any way that a little tube could collect any amount of milk. Boy, was I wrong! I use my Haakaa CONSTANTLY. One of the most common uses is while you are breastfeeding on one side to collect the milk from the other side. This helped me gather so much more milk.

I also found that as I was working, I started leaking profusely at night. Especially, when my little one started sleeping longer stretches. Instead of letting all of that liquid gold go to waste, I suctioned it on to the leaky lady while I was sleeping (no more than 1.5 hours). I literally would wake up with an entire feeding in the Haakaa. I’m telling you, this thing is incredible!

You got this, mama!

breastfeeding at work
back to work breastfeeding
pumping at work

As hard as returning to work can be after your leave, just know that you are doing an amazing job. It’s not easy balancing work and family and wearing the oh so many hats that we do as mamas, but you can do it, and it will get easier.

Make sure you keep your pumping time sacred. You don’t want anything messing with that milk supply! And remember to #momlongmomstrong.

Do you use any products that make your life at work easier? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Don’t forget to share=)