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how common is it to express milk for your baby at work?

(69 Posts)
yourclavicle Sun 25-Nov-12 10:18:35

I've been thinking about this as I'm currently expressing for the second time at work. I seem to be regarded with quite a few confused shock hmm faces and a lot of people have never even heard of expressing.

when i asked about expressing facilities when returning to work after DC1 was born, it was the first time anyone had ever asked in a workplace with hundreds of employees. It's quite nice that 2 others have since been able to use the facilities though. smile

is it really an odd/unusual thing to do?

it's a bit of a pita on a daily basis, but it allows me to carry on bf and I'm happy to do it.

if it wasn't for the fact that my wage is highest, I'd rather have me and my boobs at home instead of DH though, it'd be easier! grin

WantAnOrange Sun 25-Nov-12 16:31:53

DD is 8 weeks old tomorrow and I returned to college 2 weeks ago, for 2 days a week.

The college have been supportive. I never felt any need to explain why BF is important, I just e-mailed my tutor before I returned and asked if there is a private place I could express while I'm there. I use a small room that's usually used for tutorials and has a lock. There's no fridge so I take an insulated bag with an ice pack in it and that keeps the milk cold enough.

I can't ask for specific breaks in lectures obviously but fortunately we have a break mid-morning, mid-afternoon and lunch time.

It's a brand new part of the college, now offering HE so I think I'm the first to ask. There is a nursery at the college which most parents use so they would be able to pop over and BF anyway.

theDudesmummy Sun 25-Nov-12 17:23:04

I went back to work fulltime when DS was not yet 3 months, and continued to breast fed him until he was 15 months, so expressed lots at work (and also lots in the car, as my work involves quite a lot of travelling). I have my own office at work (with a lockable door) so it was not difficult (althogh I had to put an unauthorised blower heater in there in the winter to prevent my boobs freezing!). I realise I was quite fortunate in this.

Leafmould Sun 25-Nov-12 18:44:11

I am not surprised to see a couple of people expressing in the toilet.

When I asked for a place to express at work, I was allowed a spare office with no windows. I was not prepared to express in the toilets, as I really felt it is not appropriate, after I had a day at head office soon after I returned from leave, and didn't know who to ask for a private place and did it in the toilets.

This was back in the day where you were only paid for 6 months.

College were better: they had a fridge in their baby feeding/ changing room, however there was no security.

I wasn't sure how important security was to me at the time. Anyone else got any ideas about this?

sleepneeded Sun 25-Nov-12 18:54:17

I never ever expressed (could not really be bothered and never found I expressed enough) but had a baby that wouldn't take formula.

Went back to work ft around a year - kept bfing until ds was nearly 3 yo.

It was quite hard going - feeding right before I left for work say 5am and then as soon as I managed to get home at say 6ish or 6.30 pm.

I used to really worry about it.

In my experience I was contracting so didn't feel I could really even ask for facilities and as I went back when bfing was so well established it all seemed to work out.

My DS just had lots of yoghurt and cheese when I was not around.

My now workplace has no private offices at all - all glass - it really is pathetic and until recently the HR was woeful - and don't have a clue about working mums.

Loislane78 Sun 25-Nov-12 19:27:46

theEnglish that is shocking and the kind of attitude you expect of a one man band start up or something (apologies to all the nice small companies) not a school!!

I'll be going back at 9-10 months so will probably do a bit of expressing. Several nice ladies have paved the way already so first aid room and beer fridge available. Loads of people with young kiddies (male and female) so none one bats and eyelid.

ScaredySquirrel Sun 25-Nov-12 19:32:56

i do. I use the quiet room and there is a fridge which has a lock on it where I can put the milk (it has champagne in too).

i"m a very confident breastfeeder - have done it for all of my children, and have no problems doing it anywhere and everywhere, yet I feel dreadfully inhibited at work. I can barely express any sometimes as I'm petrified of someone seeing me, walking in on me, or hearing me. 'there are a fair few mothers at work, but not many seem to express. (well none, although there was someone a while back who was very open about washing her equipment out).

I don't really like to use the electric pump I have at work because I worry about people hearing me. I know it's more my problem than theirs!

Can I just ask, what do people do about sterilising if they do it more than once? do you just wash the stuff and then re-use it? do you all take the milk home, or is it just for relief so you discard it?

I have gone back earlier with my dd and really don't want my supply to reduce, but I do need to get over my inhibitions I think.

MoaningMingeWhimpersAgain Sun 25-Nov-12 19:38:14

I wasn't BF after the first Mat Leave but after DS I went back at 13m and was expressing to start with. After a few weeks I didn't need to because my supply just adjusted and we fed when at home or on days off.

I did my own H&S assessment for returning to work and was able to borrow a lockable office to use, it already had a fridge so I just blu-tacked a piece of paper to the window for privacy. They allowed me paid breaks to express but they don't have to be paid legally.

MoaningMingeWhimpersAgain Sun 25-Nov-12 19:39:56

Kellymom has some good info on expressing, SecretSquirrel I think you only need to sterilise once a day and just wash it the other times. As fresh human milk has antibacterial properties I think it's less of a problem.

Tinuviel Sun 25-Nov-12 19:42:21

theEnglish, that's really bad that your school felt they couldn't help. I was really lucky - the female deputy head let me use her office at break - I used to turn up, she would close the curtains and leave, I would lock the door and quickly express. She used to go and have a coffee in someone else's office. I didn't need to do it for long (a few weeks) but I really appreciated that she was willing to inconvenience herself for me.

Climbingpenguin Sun 25-Nov-12 19:51:21

I was working in a US uni at the time.

Before 4 months I was finishing my PhD in the UK. I asked for expressing facilities and after some looks of confusion, I was given the key to a dusty store room.

I started the US job at 4 months full time. On campus they had about 6 rooms fitted with comfortable chairs, magazine, fridge and a hospital grade double pump that each mom brought her own adapter and bottles for. I was the only one using the room nearest to my lab. The only other time I encountered another user was when I forgot my key and had to use the one in the library. I could only use them inside normal office hours though.

mmmmsleep Sun 25-Nov-12 19:57:21

I'm a gp so no break times. Used to finish my morning surgery at 12 with bursting boobs and express while eating sandwich and reviewing results then do visits and paperwork and try to express before afternoon surgery often while calling patients back about their questions/results. A few people walked in on me despite sign on door...they soon learnt. My patients told me tbat over the phone my double pump sounded like a photocopier in the background...i didn't correct them!
I took travel steriliser and left bottles in fridge...people would be very odd to ever confuse milk in a baby's bottle with tea milk. Was very open about it as feel if i'm supposed to promote breastfeeding to my patients then least i can do is not be ashamed myself.
Was stressful though trying to fit it all in and work long days . Ds stopped taking bottle at 9m and so i stopped expressing few weeks later and he made up by feeding during night but fed during day when i was off.
Pg at moment..hoping to take longer this time to avoid the pressure of fitting expressing in but finances are looking like may have to go back early againsad

EcoLady Sun 25-Nov-12 19:57:50

I did for both of mine. Back at work at 28 weeks (longest Mat Leave then). I used the First Aid room with the 'occupied' sign up. I was interrupted only once -poor guy didn't know where to look when he realised what I was doing! I had an Avent hand pump and a cool bag for storage. I used microwave sterlising bags in the office kitchen for the pump. My bosses at each time were both older men who simply agreed to my request rather than have a longer discussion that they clearly found embarassing.

Rhienne Sun 25-Nov-12 19:59:11

I BF to 13 months with DS1. I went back to work at 3 months, which is very unusual for where I am, but worked for DH and I due to our relative work commitments. DH was home with DS until he was 9 months, then we swapped again and I was home.

I expressed at work. Think I'm the only one who's done it in my work place as most women are home until after they've stopped feeding in the day here. I used the rest room. Had to keep moving a little chair and table in though, as someone else obviously thought there should only be a bed in the rest room, and that was hell on my back. I put the bags in the open freezer, not sure what colleagues thought about that. Got a few odd looks while washing up my pump, but that's education for you! smile

NorthernChinchilla Sun 25-Nov-12 20:08:33

I expressed once a day for DS from returning to work (when he was about 4.5 months) to when he was about 7 months. I've just finished feeding him at 11.5 months.

Work were great- although I work in what's traditionally a blokey/macho public service, my boss had just become a dad again, and his wife was bf'ing, so he was madly supportive. Whether I'd successfully established bf'ing was the first question he asked me on my return smile!

I just used the meeting room, which could be locked, stuck up a notice which covered the glass and told people it was engaged, and got on with it. Popped it in a container (non-see through) and it went in the communal fridge. Took the extra half hour I needed which was fine as you're allowed 1 hour.

When out of the office and on different sites I ended up expressing in some - albeit entirely suitable and comfortable- mad, mad places you wouldn't believe!

catgirl1976 Sun 25-Nov-12 20:10:42

I did

It was ok. The eldery, male cleaner walked in on me once which nearly killed him grin

girliefriend Sun 25-Nov-12 20:48:32

I didn't, I am a community nurse and when I went back to work it was with a new team and I didn't want to appear to be awkward or be having to worry about the practicalities!! Dd was about 7mos when I went back p/t and I continued to bf her just morning and evening until she was about 11mo. She had formula during the day with the cm. Dd was always quite easy to mix feed though.

If I had another baby though I would like to think I would be more assertive about expressing at work as would like to bf for longer if possible.

WhatLarks Sun 25-Nov-12 20:55:01

My work were very accommodating - gave me my own fridge, fitted locks to the door of the sick room, allowed me as much time as I wanted to express.

However when I provided said milk to DS' nursery they were astounded - no one had ever provided EBM to them before!

beginnings Sun 25-Nov-12 21:02:52

Did any of you freeze your milk or did you just give the previous day's EBM to your child-carer the following day? I'm going back to work three days a week in January when my LO will be eight months.

At the moment, I express one bottle's worth in the morning which she then has in the evening with her dinner. My problem is that my EBM doesn't freeze well. It tastes REALLY foul. I've done a bit of reading and think that there might be an excess of lipase in my milk which is causing it to go sour more quickly than normal. However, I won't be able to express on a Monday enough for Tuesday as she'll need it on the day!

I've started to introduce formula (she's 6.5 months) but I'm not very happy about it. Although it was very nice to go out from 12 to 5 today without her. It's the first time I've done it although I did actually sprint home from the station to see her.

Xiaoxiong Sun 25-Nov-12 21:13:19

I went back full-time when DS was 6 months and expressed every 3-4 hours. I managed about 6 weeks, at which point DS had two bottles of formula during the day and a big BF morning and evening (which has lasted, now just coming up to a year and we're still going strong).

My work knew they should be accommodating but for an all female department it was surprising that the HR team weren't sure what to do - at first they told me to use the disabled toilet which I rejected out of hand, let alone the fact that it didn't have a plug. I had to spell out what I needed and they ended up letting me use the first aid room. They wouldn't give me a key though which was really annoying - I had to ring facilities to let me in if it was locked.

It was certainly worth it to tide over the period between EBF and mixed feeding and enabled us to continue breastfeeding this long, but I agree with whoever said they found it stressful. I was constantly worrying about someone walking in on me (even with the engaged sign on the door), worrying about the noise, thinking I should be back at my desk when expressing and when I was at my desk I was worrying about leaking, my boobs ached etc but I couldn't spare the time to express more frequently. Also I only got a let down if I relaxed and thought about DS, looked at pictures of him etc - so much for getting any work done while expressing!

PeppermintCreams Sun 25-Nov-12 21:13:43

I didn't because I returned to work at around a year and only for 2 days a week, so it was easy for me to build up milk the rest of the week. I rushed home, expressed, drunk loads then went to MIL to pick baby up and feed him.

However, I don't think it would have been a problem, other than finding someone to cover my reception desk. I work for local government and there were plenty of rooms I could have used and fridges.

Around the same time I returned to work I was called for jury service. I asked if I could express milk during the breaks, and they said that's absolutely fine, and they had a fridge and private room for me to do that in. Didn't need to in the end though as it was short ish days.

Xiaoxiong Sun 25-Nov-12 21:18:26

beginnings I did freeze some milk, but generally it was Monday's pumped milk on Tuesday, Tuesday's on Wednesday etc.

I'm now 3 days a week at work and I have found that my supply regulates so that the four days I'm at home I can feed DS entirely from the breast - then the three days at work he gets formula during the day and I feed him morning and evening.

I wasn't happy about formula initially because I worried it would hurt my supply but it didn't at all by that point (8 months or so). Also he was eating carpet fluff and partially chewed food off the floor by that point - so it seemed a bit pointless to worry about giving him a bit of formula during the day! smile

nellyjelly Sun 25-Nov-12 21:21:15

I did. Work sorted a lockable office for me. I don't think everyone liked the idea of it, especially as I stored my milk in the shared fridge. Some people are odd about that kind of thing.

Once I stopped needing to express, I kept going with the expressing break and used the time to have a little nap! Cheeky I know but DD was a terrible sleeper and I could hardly cope.

beginnings I froze industrial quantities in the month before I went back, but she wouldn't drink frozen the defrosted EBM, to my shock and dismay! I read around a bit at the time and discovered that apparently it does change the taste and apparently some people's milk freezes better than others confused (if I remember rightly). Most babies don't care though I don't think! I threw several litres of frozen EBM away sad

Lois and Tin it is shocking isn't it - its one of the reasons I always mentally shake my head when I hear people pondering career changing to teach because it will be family friendly (though I agree it might be more so for a teacher whose own children were at school, due to holidays). The head was a man nearing retirement whose own wife had stopped work to have their family - he told me a stupid story about giving up pipe tobacco so they could do without her wage confused My dept head was also male - he had a small child himself but his wife hadn't worked even before their child was born, and he used to make comments about being glad to have the excuse of marking to avoid having to entertain a toddler in the evenings... They made a lovely pair to work for, as the mother of a baby...

sorry that's a bit incoherent, toddler with a temperature restlessly asleep on me.

This thread is simultaneously making me worry and calming me down! I'm going back to work 4 days a week after Christmas when DD will be 10 months. At the moment she has a feed first thing, one before and one after her main nap, sometimes one in the late afternoon if dinner's going to be a bit late, and then bedtime and night feeds. I've been dithering about expressing. I don't know where I'd go at work (new building since I went on mat leave), and I'm not good at expressing without spilling milk down myself. confused But I'm also worried that my boobs will start leaking frantically if I don't express, plus I want to give nursery EBM to feed to DD. I suppose I've answered my own question - I will have to express, so I'll have to bite the bullet and ask somebody at work to find out about expressing rooms. I'll probably also have to buy a decent pump - my Tommee Tippee one's a bit shit.

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