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A Guide to Work Wear for Moms Who Pump

Let’s get real about pumping. IT’S THE WORST! The marketing pictures make you think it’s going to be like this:

working mom pumping

I’m not sure who that women is smiling at, or why she dressed to match her pumping bra. Sorry to break it to you, but I have never laughingly tossed back a refreshing glass of bubbly water while pumping. This is more like my reality:

working mom pumping

 

That may be a little bit of an exaggeration…but pumping certainly isn’t the highlight of my day. There’s getting undressed, hooking up the robot machine, sitting there for 10 uncomfortable minutes, getting redressed, cleaning everything throughly, and then doing it all over again in 3-4 hours. Also, until I got blinds installed in my window office, I was pumping in what was basically a closet. Hooray!

A month after returning to work, I fell into a rhythm that helped alleviate some of my stress around pumping. While several different things made it easier, one of the biggest differences was changing my workwear to help me go with the flow (get it?). Here are some tips from me to you: 
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  1. Invest in a few high quality and supportive nursing and/or pumping tank tops. In 9th grade, I was scarred by a whale-tail incident and ever since have preferred to wear a tank top under most of my sweaters and tops. I feel more secure and it helps make sure the puppies are reined in. I found myself getting annoyed at having to remove not only a cardigan or top, but a second layer as well, before I could access my nursing bra, which I THEN had to top with a hands free pumping bra. Ugh. Wearing a supportive nursing tank top has simplified the process. They also have pumping tank tops which would eliminate yet another step. 
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  2. It’s all about the buttons: dress shirts, cardigans, and shirt-dresses. After going back to work, I quickly found that most of my wardrobe was annoying to take on and off. Yes, I’ve already complained about this, but once is just not enough. I wore a dress once before realizing that I’d have to take the whole thing off in order to pump. It doesn’t get much weirder than sitting naked in a closet at work. I have since converted my work wardrobe to almost exclusively button-up tops. They provide easy access and prevent you ruining your hair by pulling a shirt over your head. 
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  3. Keep it non-iron and machine washable. Hardly a day goes by when I’m not doing a load of poopy laundry – my son’s and mine. My son is going through an awesome blowout phase. Additionally, I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve come home from work with milk stains on my pants or shirt. Given the realities of life as a working and pumping mom, the idea of owning anything that requires ironing or a trip to the dry cleaners is just laughable. You want clothes you can toss into the washer when you get home and throw on the next day as you dash out the door to daycare. 
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  4. Have a uniform. Ain’t nobody got time to shower in the morning, much less pick out an outfit. I streamlined my wardrobe, focusing on multiples of the same item in solid colors. I also tried to stick within a general color palette. I already have a lot of black, grays, and muted purples and blues in my wardrobe, so I built off that. Doing this has made my mornings a breeze. There’s almost no decision making. Everything goes well together, so I just grab a top, pants, and am good to go. 
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A non-wardrobe related tip: block your pumping time off on your work calendar to prevent others from scheduling over it. If you don’t protect your pumping time, before you know it you’ll be leaking in the middle of a meeting with your supervisor. Been there, done that.

Best of luck and do yourself a favor: don’t do work while pumping! You’re already working so go ahead and spend those 10 minutes watching panda videos on Facebook. You deserve it.
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