If you’re like most moms, you’re likely returning to work within 3 months post-birth.
Two-thirds of American moms do. Thanks to recent changes in federal laws, you can continue to provide your baby the important benefits of breast milk via pumping once you return to work.
Prepare now for pumping
Start planning for pumping before giving birth. Let your employer know that you plan to pump milk for your baby when you return.
Make your case with tips from the federal program Business Case for Breastfeeding, available at WomensHealth.gov.
Ask other working moms what worked for them regarding pumping and storing milk and set yourself up for success with these steps.
Build your supply
Build your breastmilk freezer stash: once breastfeeding is going well, usually within 4 weeks post-birth, pump after your baby’s first morning feed. This time of day is best because you have higher prolactin levels that help you make more milk.
Wash your hands and use clean pump parts and containers for milk expression. Pump both breasts simultaneously for 10 minutes, building up to 15 minutes, over the next few mornings.
Continue to pump and store to maintain your extra milk. Having a good freezer reserve helps you return to work with less anxiety. You may not produce a lot of milk via pumping at first; some moms struggle with let down initially. Look at your baby, or pictures of your baby, and try to relax to help your body.
Freeze your milk in small portions (such as 2 ounces) in the coldest part of your freezer with the date clearly marked. Use the oldest milk first.
Introduce your baby to breastmilk via the bottle before returning to work. You may find it easier if your partner tries this first with baby.
Pump At Work
- Find a private space—with a door that locks. Put up a pumping sign so others know you’re busy. If you don’t have a designated lactation room, ask to use an empty office, large closet or storage area.
- Use a high quality, double-sided electric pump that has a long-life rechargeable battery. You will pump more milk faster. Consider buying two sets of pumping parts to avoid having to use work time to wash your pump parts.
- Schedule your pumping breaks. You’ll need up to 20 minutes per pumping session; plan to pump every 3-4 hours.
- Buy a small cooler with ice packs for milk storage or place your well-marked storage bags in a refrigerator at your workplace. Store your breastmilk in the refrigerator or freezer once you get home.