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Going Back to Work- Part One

Often times moms need to return to the workforce after having a baby. You may be happy to get back to a beloved job, or dreading going back. However, you are feeling about returning, you will likely want to prepare yourself and your family for this big transition. With some advance planning, you will be able to manage this, and also enjoy your baby when you are home.

*If your plan is to continue to nurse or pump and keep your current supply, then ideally you will want to pump/express for any feedings that you will miss (or, at least every 3 hours).

Know your rights.

Federal law requires employers to provide break time to express breast milk for the year following birth. Also, the law requires employers to provide a private place, which isn’t a bathroom, and is shielded from view. Make sure to learn about pumping at work laws specific in your state.

Communicate with your work

Talk with your boss and your team about nursing and pumping and how important it is to you and your baby. If they have a family, ask if they have experience breastfeeding/ pumping or if the mother did. Open up with questions to make it ‘okay’ to talk about. Discuss how frequently and how many times you will need to pump.

Ask questions about work flexibility and learn about options for extending maternity leave (if desired), working from home or maybe on some days, flexible hours – maybe shorter, working more days, or maybe longer to work less days and be with baby. Does your work allow for baby to go to work with you, or to come for breaks to nurse? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you didn’t have to worry about pumping, or do less pumping?

Starting mid-week is super helpful to allow you to ease into it a little better, so you don’t have to tackle a full week your first time. Will your partner have a paternity leave later to help the transition when you go back to work?

Where will you pump? It should be a private place. Does it have an outlet if needed? A sink to clean up?

Ideally, it would help if you had a sink for washing pump parts and your hands prior to pumping. If not, it may be helpful to have 2-3 sets of parts, so you don’t need to clean at work. You may also rinse the parts and use a steam bag, or some choose to use special pump wipes. Also, many moms will put their parts in a gallon-size zip lock bag and put them in a fridge or cooler, and then wash them when they get home. No matter what, hygiene and cleanliness are important to keep baby safe.

Where will you store breastmilk? In a work fridge, in a cooler, or will you put the small cooler in the fridge?

Will you keep supplies at work, or will you keep everything in one bag? Either way may be fine, just make sure it works well for you, so you don’t forget anything.


As a new parent, leaving your baby with someone else can be so stressful. Do the research to find your best option that fits your family, have back up options, and do a trial run. Find someone you trust, learn how they feel about breastfeeding, how they store and prepare breastmilk, and how feedings are given. Practice leaving your baby at least a few times before returning to work. This will make it easier for you and your baby when the time comes.

Preparing your baby

Will you choose to bottle feed or cup fed?

You will want to introduce this new method to your baby around 3-4 weeks. This allows breastfeeding to be established and for your little one to practice something new. A bottle or cup per day can help give you a break, time to pump, and enough practice to make sure it all works when you go back.

Preparing a little extra milk

Whether it is to prepare a bottle or cup feed, or to add a little to the freezer ahead of time, here are some tips!

· First off, you will only need to have 2-3 days’ worth of milk in storage. You do NOT need a whole freezer full! This is an unrealistic and stressful expectation that can take you away from time with your baby. Don’t stress! The milk you pump will be for the following day’s feedings.

· But, to get some extra, begin collecting extra milk at 3-4 weeks postpartum.

· Milk production is typically at the highest between 2-6am, so your supply is fuller in the morning. You may choose to pump after the first morning breastfeeding to collect the extra milk.

· Place it in a freezer safe container or breastmilk storage bag. Label it with date/time, and place in freezer (flat if a bag-then once frozen, will be easier to organize).

· At first, you may only pump a few mls-15ml, this is normal. You just fed your baby, right? The extra stimulation from pumping will give your body the message to increase production and the volume will increase in the next couple days. Before you know it, you may pump 1 oz or more!

· If you continue each day like this, you will likely have 40-60oz stored by 11-12 weeks.

· Hand expressing prior to pumping, and massaging gently while you pump can help you get more!

· A hands-free pumping bra, or a homemade one can really help you get more milk out, for mommy multitasking.

· Don’t use a suction that is too strong! It should feel comfortable like a strong tug, no pain.

· Be sure to have the correct flange size, so it is comfortable and efficient. Most pumps come with 2 sizes, but you may need a different size.

Check in with a Lactation Consultant to learn more pumping and back to work tips, and make sure your pump settings and flange sizes are correct!

*See more on ‘Going Back to Work’ in the next Blog.

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