Everything You Need To Know About Pumping + Working Outside The Home

Congratulations, you just added a bundle of joy to your family! If you’re anything like me as a new mother, you’re probably snuggling the baby in your arms and already worrying about going back to work. I returned to work at six weeks postpartum, and while I loved all my time off with my new cutie pie, I wasted a lot of that time worrying about the details of working and being a breastfeeding mother. Since returning to work I’m found a pumping rhythm that works for me and my child. Since I’ve found so many moms have the same hesitations as I did, I thought I would write up a Breastfeeding/Pumping & Working Essentials Guide in this blog post. Have additional tips that you would like to add to help other moms? Comment below!

Disclaimer: Every baby and family is different. I desperately HATED hearing that at first. Just tell me an answer already! But it’s true and every mom will need to adjust accordingly. Every workplace is also different and the time/ place for pumping will be different as well.

How frequently should you pump? I exclusively feed my now 4.5 month old breastmilk. No formula; no solid foods yet. To ensure that I have enough breastmilk for the next day + a little extra, I pump 3x at work. A working day looks as follows:

6am    Breastfeed at home

8am    Arrive at Work

9am    Pump for 10 minutes, Set up + take down takes 10 minutes

Noon  Pump for 10 minutes, set up + take down takes 10 minutes 

3pm    Pump for 10 minutes, set up + take down takes 10 minutes, and hand wash my bottles/ parts for the next day witch takes about 10 minutes 

5pm    Arrive home and breastfeed.

Pro Tip: I HIGHLY recommend washing your bottles by hand at work if possible. It allows you to have one less item to do at home and one less thing to have to bring back with you the next day.

How much milk should I be producing per pumping session? I was really worried about this when I started pumping. I would like to warn new mothers to not compare their supply to other mothers. Some moms overproduce. Some underproduce. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, you just need to produce enough milk for your baby for the hours you’re away from them the next day. I usually produce 2-4oz per side, per session. Abundance depends on the time of the last feeding, how much water I drank, if I ate a lot, ect. Your milk will naturally regulate at about three months postpartum. This means that you’ll likely be making just the right amount for your baby by this time.

How do I store my milk and pumping parts? This is the simplest way I have found to store milk from multiple pumpings: pump in individual bottles and when done pour all the milk into a large, washable water bottle. This is also known as the water bottle hack. Store the water bottle full of milk in the fridge until you are ready to go home.

Store your pumping parts in a plastic bag in the fridge to stop the growth of bacteria throughout the day. After your last pumping session, wash them by hand or sanitize them. Reassemble when clean and dry and they are ready for the next day.

If you have a long commute, it is recommended to have a lunch box with an ice pack that you can store the milk in until it can be put in the fridge.

Pro Tip for The Water Bottle Hack: I own two Contigo water bottles. They are big enough that they can fit in all my milk throughout the day, they are dishwasher safe for sanitization, and I can easily pour out the amount needed into a bottle for feedings. Owning two ensures that I can have one full of milk in my fridge at home and one clean, ready for the next day at work.

How can I make pumping at work easier? Being a mom isn’t easy, but pumping at work should be one of the easier aspects. I highly recommend a pumping bag. These are bags that allow you to store all pumping parts easily. I tried a backpack and reusable tote and found the entire process annoying and bulky. With my pumping bag I don’t have to take my Spectra pump out every time, I just unzip it’s compartment and it’s ready to use. I also keep my supplies in the bag. It has one purpose and it’s my one-stop-shop for all pumping needs.

There are pumping bags available at all price points. From $10-$150. As a working mother I don’t have the money to spend $100+ on a pumping bag so I found mine at Target on clearance for $19.99. Score! 

How do I talk to my boss about pumping at work? I can guarantee that it’s not going to be the most fun conversation you ever have with your boss. I recommend looking up the laws in your state/ country before this conversation takes place to understand what your rights are. (Here’s a great resource for my US readers) Have an idea of schedule and plan you would like to stick to before you talk to your boss and go into the conversation without being defensive. I’m under the assumption that a lot of small businesses don’t know the laws around working/ breastfeeding. Propose your plan to your employer and try to find a plan that works for both of you.

Suggested Supplies List: 

    • Pump of choice
    • Ziplock bags
    • Bottle brush (This is my favorite)
    • Non-toxic soap
    • Water bottle to pour milk from multiple pumpings
  • Pumping bag (optional)
  • Lactation bars (optional)

Additional Notes: I know it sounds crazy at first, but try to enjoy your time spent pumping. For me, it’s one of the few breaks of “me time” I get during the day. It’s really easy to stay on Instagram the ensure pump break, but I find them to be the most relaxing when I do breathing exercises, or something to relax.

I hope you found this post helpful! Please help pumping moms by leaving additional tips below.

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