Pumping and breastfeeding the baby.

How to pump when you need to go back to work

Do you find yourself like so many other mamas that realize that your maternity leave is up in a blink of an eye. No matter if it is 6, 8 or 12 weeks, it seems that time flies and also slows down at the same time. But you have yet too pump.

Did you just look at the calendar and go…. crap? I need to go back to work in a few weeks and I have not even taken my pump out of the box. Let me help you walk through the steps of pumping and going back to work.

When should I start pumping to go back to work?

If you are heading back to work you should start pumping when your baby is 3-4 weeks unless your doctor has told you otherwise.  You can always freeze your milk even if you are not going back for another 9 weeks.  You should pump for 20-30 minutes AFTER feeding your baby.  This will give you time to put your baby in a safe place, go to the bathroom, grab a snack and get your pump set up.

How often should I pump?

I would start with pumping just once a day so you do not have too much of an oversupply. If you start having too much of an oversupply you might experience clogged ducts, engorgement and mastitis.

You will get the most milk out in the morning after your baby’s first feed. However, you can pump at any time.

How long should I pump?

When using an electric pump on both slides you should only pump for 15-20 minutes total.

If you are using a

Remember when you pump for the first time after your baby feeds, this is only your babies leftover.  It will not be enough for a full feed. It could take you several feeds to get the amount of milk for a whole feed.

Think your child may have a tongue-tie? Grab my freebie Do You Have Pain When Breastfeeding Your Baby? Where I share signs and symptoms of both Mama and Baby where your baby might have a tongue-tie.

How to maximize my milk output?

A great way at work to maximize your output is to do a gentle massage to your breast. You can also pull out your phone and look at thousands of pictures of your baby. You can also take in a blanket or onesie of your baby so you can smell their scent. 

When should I introduce a bottle?

At 3-4 weeks you should start to introduce a bottle. You will now have pumped milk to offer your baby.

This is a great way to get your baby to go to daycare or to just have a date night out with your partner. Make sure you are giving a bottle OFTEN to make sure they get plenty of practice. When you are apart from your baby, then they will not refuse a bottle for the next 6-8+ hours while you are away.

Make sure you are offering the bottle every few days. It is wonderful for your partner to offer the bottle so you could get a few extra hours of sleep!

How much milk do I send to daycare?

That depends on your daycare and what their rules are. Some daycare let the milk come frozen and others want it unfrozen.  If they do not use it, the milk has to be thrown out.

After breast milk is thawed out it is only good for 24 hours. Unless the milk still has ice crystals you can put it back in the freezer.

Do I need to pump while I am at work?

YES! To make sure you do not lose your milk supply you need to take a pump with you to work. If you were at home and breastfeeding that is how often you need to pump at work.

For example: if this is your first week back at 8 weeks. You should breastfeed your baby before work around 6 am. Then pump at work at 10 am, noon, and 3 pm. When you pick your baby up you should breastfeed again.

Ideally try to pump every 2-3 hours; however, work happens. You might have to wait 5 hours but do not do that everyday. Just do your best at work, but emergencies happen.

Then all the milk you pumped at work will go to your daycare the next day.

How much of a “milkstash” do I need in my freezer?

You only need to be ahead of your baby by one day. You do not need a whole deep freezer full of milk.

For Example: if you go back to work on a Wednesday, you really only need enough milk to cover your first day.  While you are working that day, you will be pumping for Thursday.

However, you may be an over-supplier and have a lot of milk in the freezer. But do not stress out trying to pump a lot to have in the freezer.

What do I take to work?

First, you need to get a great pumping bag that will hold your pump, parts, mini cooler and all the other pumping supplies.

Make sure to wear easy to pump in clothes. I would suggest a blouse that buttons up or a flowy shirt. You can wear a romper that you just have to pull down the top half but allows the bottom half to stay clothed instead of the opposite if you decide to wear a dress. My personal favorite was to wear a nursing camisole under all of my scrub tops.

Many pumps are now hands free and cordless which makes it so easy for work. Bring a nursing cover or blanket in case a coworker decides to not read the sign that you are “In a meeting.”

Final Thoughts!

On your first day of work, after you drop off your baby, stop and grab your favorite Starbucks Pink Drink.  It has coconut water in it to help with your milk supply!

After you pick up your drink, pump to work or get to work 20-30 minutes early to pump. Then you have 2-3 hours before you need to pump again. It is a great way to start your day off on an empty boob.

You got this mama! I believe in you and want to support you on your journey.


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