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working womanGoing back to work after having your little one is certainly a transition period for many reasons. Having been in this situation very recently, I wanted to write a blog that would be helpful and include advice for pumping. I found it useful to become familiar with what other moms did when they were returning to work. After all, it was my first long separation (12 hours a day!) from my baby girl. Here are tips and a timeline that worked for me.

Before the baby arrives:

  • Talk to your supervisor, human resources department, or school counselor about your plans to breastfeed after you return to work or school. Ask about a clean, private area where you can pump your breast milk every 3 hours.
  • Call your health insurance to see what kind of pump they will provide you.
  • When discussing your return date for work, try to start back mid-week. It will be less overwhelming than starting on a Monday.

After the baby arrives:

  •  Offer your baby a bottle of expressed milk (1-2 oz.) once a day beginning at 1 month of age to get the baby used to taking a bottle.
  •  Try to pump several times a week starting when your baby is about 1 month old to build a supply of frozen milk in your freezer. The best times of day for me to pump were after the first morning feeding and about an hour after my baby went to bed at night.

About 2 weeks before you return to work:

  • Continue to offer your baby a bottle of expressed milk every day. Let your partner or other family members do this if the baby does not take the bottle well from you.
  • Leave your baby alone with the daycare provider at least 1-3 times before you return to work or school. This will help everyone get used to the new routine.
  • Think about clothes that are easy to pump in (buttoned down shirts, nursing bras and tank tops work out well).

About 1 week before you return to work:

  • If you have freezer space, cook several meals in advance so you will have them ready for the first week you go back to work or school.
  • Make sure you have enough storage bottles for pumping, a cooler or lunch bag, and ice packs for transporting the milk.

The night before:

  • Pack up the daycare bag, your lunch and snacks for work, pump and milk storage equipment.
  • Plan quick and healthy meals for dinner if you haven’t prepared meals ahead of time. 

Every morning:

  • Allow for an extra 30-60 minutes to get dressed, nurse your baby, and eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Bring your pumped milk (from the day before) if you did not drop it off to the daycare provider when you picked up your baby at the end of the day.

At work:

  • Look at a picture of your baby while you pump. It helps with hormones and the flow of your milk.
  • Pump according to the schedule approved by your supervisor and what works with your schedule.
  • Rinse pump parts and store in a re-sealable bag in the refrigerator. If a refrigerator is not available, rinse pump parts and dry thoroughly.

When you come home:

  • Wash your pump parts and bottles with warm water and soap.
  • If you did not drop off the milk at the daycare provider when you picked up your child, store your freshly pumped breast milk in the refrigerator to use for tomorrow.

It is so rewarding to give my baby the nourishment she needs when I am away from her. My favorite part of the day is coming home and having quiet time to nurse her.  I hope these tips help you find a routine that works. Please let us know if you have any ideas to share with other working moms!

Written By:


WIC Nutritionist

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