13 Tips for Making Pumping Work…At Work

October 18, 2011

[Updated November 22, 2016]

Going back to work can be a challenging and stressful time for a breastfeeding mom. Not only are you juggling competing demands for your time, but your time spent at work cuts into those precious hours snuggling your little one.

But with a little planning, it’s possible to make the transition back to work easier. Try to incorporate these tips for a smooth and painless back-to-work transition.

While You’re Pregnant

  1. Know your rights. Employers are required to provide a reasonable break for nursing moms to pump at work. That means you should be offered a place other than a bathroom to pump as often as you need to during your baby’s first year.
  2. Talk to your employer in advance about pumping at work. Being open with your employer about your plans will help to make the transition easier.
  3. Reach out to other moms in your office for support and advice. Each workplace is different, so it can be helpful to hear how other moms have successfully pumped in that environment. Also, their encouragement can help make the transition back to work easier.

After Baby Arrives

  1. Start pumping. Try out your pump while you’re still at home with your baby so that once you’re back to work you know how your pump works, about how long an average pumping session takes, and what type of output to expect.
  2. Develop a storage plan. The Medela Freestyle Deluxe Set and Pump In Style Advanced breast pumps both come with a cooler pack that holds four breast milk bottles and provides up to 12 hours cooling time.
  3. Stock up on essentials. Make sure you have enough nursing pads, pump-friendly work tops, breast milk removal soap, and other essential items for making the return.
  4. Consider a second pump. Some moms, especially those who are exclusive pumpers, find having one pump for home and another for work eases the burden of carrying an armload of bags to and from work every day.

Once You’re Back At Work

  1. Breastfeed before and after work. This will help ensure your baby spends as much time as possible at the breast. These frequent breastfeeding and pumping sessions can help maintain milk supply.
  2. Bring photos of your little one to work. Some moms even choose to bring clothing with their baby’s smell or a recording of their baby’s coos. All of these items can put you at ease and help with milk let down while pumping.
  3. Try to pump as often as you would breastfeed. Pumping every 2 to 3 hours is ideal. Although, many working moms find that, realistically, they take a morning, lunch, and afternoon pumping break.
  4. Pump hands-free. Depending on your job, you can continue to work while you pump if you use a hands-free pump like the Medela Freestyle or the Easy Expression® Bustier. Also know that if you choose not to work while you pump, that’s ok too!
  5. Use nursing bra pads if necessary. There are comfortable options that prevent embarrassing wet spots on work clothes.
  6. Encourage caregivers to feed your baby no later than an hour before you return home. Then you’ll know your baby will be ready for a nursing session as soon as you’re done with work. This will help keep your bond with your baby strong.

Working moms, do you have any more tips to add? Share them in the comments below.


25 thoughts on “13 Tips for Making Pumping Work…At Work

  1. I’m a full-time working Mom, and it took me two months and a bunch of Fenugreek to get my production up to where it needed to be in order to be a day ahead of my son’s needs. (It’s three months of exclusive breastfeeding now after a very rough start.) I thought, for sure, that my production was going to be insufficient.

    I agree with Kat. My lactation consultant also suggested that I take a ‘nursing weekend’, where I stayed in bed and it was nothing but feeding and bonding with Baby. It was incredibly helpful for me, as it helped get my production up and helped me to stop stressing about the low volume in the bottles. (Something that was made /worse/ by over-pumping because I was so crazy over each mL that I was producing or failing to produce.) If he ever didn’t get to both breasts, I’d pump the other and fridge or freeze the milk for my cache while he played or slept.

    Now I’m almost always a full day or more ahead of his needs, I can often pump what I need in 2 or 3 sessions, and baby and I can enjoy nursing time without going nuts over a pumped volume. A huge blessing.

  2. I just returned to my job as a nurse after 10 weeks of maternity leave. My hours vary day to day , and so do the time of my breaks. I work 6 hour shifts and only get one 20 minute break. I have gone from getting 2oz from each breast during pumping sessions at home to maybe 1-2oz all together on my work break. My baby eats 4oz every 3 hours. My let down during pumping sessions at work is so slow and Im becoming frustrated and afreaid I will have to start supplementing formula and my supply is going to go down. I just don’t know what to do. Its hard being a nurse, I do not have a 9-5 job with scheduled breaks like most people. What should I do?

  3. Try pumping at home too. I pump exclusively. Even though the baby skips a feeding session or2 i still pump and that usually makes up for what i didn’t produce during the day. My son also eats 4 oz every 3 hours i also found that if i pump at increments of 3 either 3 or 6 hours i usually get the same but if i try to pump like 4 hrs then 2 i will get less. So if its been more than 4 hours i will just wait till 6.

    • Karen I am also an exclusive pumper. It takes a lot of time, but I also have found that by pumping regularly (weather the baby needs it or not) I can keep my supply up. I think the key for me is being as regular as possible. My supply drops if I try to go too long between pumping. Being a teacher it is not convenient to take pump breaks so when I am at work I pump just before school at lunch and right after school as well as in the evening in regular intervals (as regular as possible).

  4. I need help I’m going back to work on March 5th I’ve been breastfeeding the whole time too my baby I just started storage my milk what can I do I work for the post office I deliver mail I kind of see it’s going to be hard for me to pump what can you guys give me an advice to help me out what can I do

    • Hi Paola,

      Congratulations on your new baby and a successful breastfeeding journey! Have you talked to your employer about pumping at work? We suggest having a conversation with them or your HR department to see if they have policies in place or accommodations for breastfeeding moms. If your job duties mean you’ll be on-the-go during the day, we recommend looking into accessory options that can help make your pumping routine easier – such as pump vehicle adaptors (to power your pump in a car), Quick Clean Wipes (to clean pump parts without soap and water), and a cooler with ice packs (to store your milk during the day). All of these accessories can be found on our website here: http://bit.ly/1PnrJGg

      More resources are available on our Medela At Work website here: http://bit.ly/1OtFD91. You may also find this blog helpful for preparing a breastfeeding kit for on-the-go pumping: http://bit.ly/1LIrwI6. Here is more information on your rights at work: http://bit.ly/1R51Zup

      Hopefully this is helpful! Let us know if you have any other questions.

    • Freemies along with a Medela freestyle or a spectra 9 pump will make your life so much easier while your on the go. The quick clean wipes from Medela are amazing also!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment validation by @