BreastfeedingWork-Life Balance

8 Helpful Tips For Pumping At Work

Making the transition from living and breathing everything baby to re-entering the workforce can be stressful and overwhelming. Having to learn how, where and when to pump can make this stressful situation a whole lot worse.

When I returned to work, I was a MESS. I was still sleep-deprived and my baby refused the bottle while I was gone. Oh, and the last thing that I wanted to do was leave her.

Also, I didn’t really educate myself about pumping beforehand, so that was quite the learning curve.

I don’t want that to happen to you. You should feel prepared and confident that you are going to make pumping at work WORK. I want to help you meet your breastfeeding goals. These are my biggest tips.


Prep Your Baby

Starting when your baby is around 4 weeks old, have someone else give your baby a bottle. Have that person consistently offer your baby a bottle (whether it’s once a day or once a week). If your baby refuses, simply try again at a different time or using a different feeding position, milk temperature, etc.

Also, make sure that you are using a bottle made for breastfeeding babies to avoid bottle preference.

Start Pumping Before Returning to Work

You might think (thanks to Pinterest) that having a gigantic freezer stash of breast milk is an absolute necessity. Luckily, this isn’t the case. Most moms can successfully breastfeed after returning to work with a modest freezer stash.

Start pumping when your baby is around 4 weeks old (not sooner because your milk supply isn’t yet regulated). Pumping once or twice a day should be sufficient to build up a decent supply. The important thing is that you are consistent about it and pump around the same time each day.

Learn Your Pumping At Work Laws

The Federal “Break Time For Nursing Mothers” law covers most hourly workers and some salaried workers. It requires employers to provide a reasonable amount of time for pumping and a private space (NOT a bathroom). 

Your state may have additional protections in place for breastfeeding moms. You can learn more about them here. 

Educate yourself on your breastfeeding rights in the workplace. Then, speak with your employer to ensure that they are willing to comply and to secure a private pumping area.


Develop A Pumping At Work Schedule

How often should you pump at work? Ideally you would pump as often as your baby nurses. I realize that might mean every two hours and that might not be feasible. Try not to go longer than 3 hours between pumping sessions.

As a teacher, I had an inflexible schedule. I couldn’t simply have someone watch my students for 30 minutes at a time several times a day. I had to get creative and pump in the car before work, as well as during my lunch break.



Buy The Right Pumping Accessories

What helped me most was having things that made pumping easier and faster. Having a roomy pump bag helped me to keep everything I needed nicely organized. A double-electric pump helped me to pump efficiently. Having a pumping bra that I could wear all day under my work clothes? That was a luxury that I would never go without.


Figure Out What Tricks Work For You In Order To Increase Output

One major concern of pumping moms is whether or not they will be able to maintain their supply. Getting your body to respond to the pump can be challenging at first.

For some moms, getting distracted by focusing on working while pumping is what helps. For others, it’s looking at photos or videos of their babies. You might need to find a relaxing way to pass the time, such as reading a book or shopping online. Yet other moms believe that breast compressions and massage help to increase output.

Experiment with each of these suggestions to find out what works for you.


Storing Pumped Milk

Once you are finished pumping at work, is it necessary to clean your pump parts before your next session? Some blogs will tell you that it’s okay to stick your flanges in the fridge without rinsing between pumps.

Until recently, there wasn’t a recommendation that contradicted this popular pumping hack. After an infant contracted a rare and serious infection however, the CDC changed their guidelines. They now urge pumping moms to clean pump parts after each and every use.

Make sure to keep your milk refrigerated after pumping. Otherwise, freeze it immediately (for up to 6 months) if the milk will not be consumed within four days.


Remember Your Why

Is pumping EVER going to be an enjoyable thing? No, not a chance. Pumping is uncomfortable, unnatural and just plain awful. I look back at the 16 months that I spent pumping and shudder. But despite how terrible it is, it’s one of the first of MANY sacrifices you’ll make for your child.

What you are doing is probably benefiting both you AND your baby in more ways than science even knows. When pumping makes you want to jump out of your office window, remember your why. Remember your reason for wanting to breastfeed in the first place. Remember that this is only temporary.

One day you’ll be like me. You’ll look back and wonder how in the world you even did it all. The long days and even longer nights. The rocking. The soothing. The nursing. The PUMPING. It will all be a distant memory. But the benefits that your child gained because you decided to make pumping work even though it was hard? Those benefits will last a lifetime.



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Brenda Kosciuk

Brenda Kosciuk is a mother of two young girls, a teacher and a blogger at Paper Heart Family. Her blog is about everything pregnancy, babies, and toddler activities. She loves helping moms to live their best lives, even in difficult seasons. She has more hobbies than she can count, but rarely finds time for any of them.

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  1. I was an exclusive pumper, and continued pumping when I returned to work. These are great tips from moms returning to work after maternity leave. Setting a schedule was key for me!

    1. That’s so great – yes, a schedule works best, instead of trying to fit a time in here and there.

  2. Pumping at work is THE WORST, but these are great tips for making it more manageable. Great job!

    1. Yes! My friend does it every day and she uses the wireless one and omg I swear it has changed the way working mom’s pump!

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