Tips for Pumping Breast Milk At Work

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Tips for Pumping Breast Milk At Work

Returning to work after maternity leave? Moms who’ve been there offer tips, tricks and support in this excerpt from the Working Mom Survival Guide, from our sister publication Working Mother.

Working moms with babies often have a new companion—the pump. In our survey, we asked veteran moms for their top tips. From “drink lots of water” to “stick with it,” here’s some in-the-trenches advice:

What you need:

  • “Don’t cheap out on a breast pump. Buy the best you can afford.”
  • “Keep a pump at home and another one at work. This will eliminate schlepping and stop panic when you forget it due to mommy brain.”
  • “At work, double up on the pump parts that need to be washed. That way, when you’re in a rush, you’ll have backups for your next session.
  • “Buy a hands-free pumping bustier. It may seem silly until you realize you can pump and balance your checkbook at the same time. Genius.”
  • “Keep an extra bra, blouse, and breast pads in your office for leaks.”
  • “Be patient and committed. You’ll be fine.”


Helpful hints:

  • “Ask ahead of time for an arrangement if your comapny doesn’t have a lactation room and you don’t have an office.”
  • “Be committed. Aggressively protect pumping time by blocking it off on your schedule.”
  • “A discreet note helps keep people from barging into your office.”
  • “Accidents will happen. Laugh them off.”
  • “Pump as soon as you get to work. In the morning you’ll have more milk and you’ll be less likely to put it off once you’re involved in a project.”
  • “No matter how busy your day gets, don’t let yourself become engorged. This puts you at high risk for mastitis.”
  • “Keep photos of your baby in your pumping bag to help stimulate milk production. Or watch a video of your baby on your phone.”
  • “Relax. Stressing out makes it all the more difficult.”
  • “Consider learning how to hand express milk. In a dire emergency, you can do this in a restroom to relieve pressure until you can pump.”

Timeline for Preparing to Pump

Get to know your pump while you’re still on maternity leave. Adjust the dates if you have a longer leave. Note: If you’re breastfeeding a child under the age of 1 and work for a company with more than 50 employees, U.S. law requires your employer to provide a private lactation room, and it can’t be the ladies room.

Before baby’s born: Buy a pump or two and extra parts. Consider a hands-free model. Open the box, and examine and wash the parts. Read all of the instructions.

2 weeks after baby’s born: Pump once a day in the morning when you’re likely to produce more milk, and include your partner in a feeding. Try different bottls and nipples if necessary.

Baby is 1 month: Optional: Pump a few times a day and freeze the milk to build up your supply for when you go back to work. Date and double bag milk before freezing. Use the oldest first.

Before you go back to work: Go over the procedures for breast milk storage, thawing, and feeding with your baby’s caregiver. Set up a system for your caregiver to record the ounces your baby eats.

You’re back at work: Track the number of ounces you pump daily. Keep up with how much your baby eats, but don’t stress if you need to supplement with formula. Any amount of breast milk is good.

Any time: Your body can adjust to a new feeding or pumping schedule. Gradually reduce pumping sessions, but still maintain a basic schedule such as nursing before and after work.