Returning to Work After Maternity Leave- Breastfeeding & Pumping

Continuing to breastfeed while working can be a challenge, but it is certainly possible. If you do not have an office with a door that locks, find out if there are pumping rooms before you take maternity leave. If not, talk to your employer about a comfortable place for you to pump each day. This is your right so do not be intimidated.

On average, you will need to pump every 4 hours for about 10-15 minutes. This pertains to using a double electric breast pump. For most work schedules, that would mean that you pump once mid-morning, at lunch, and before you leave in the evening. It could work out to less than that if you have a short commute and breast feed just before you leave in the morning and right when you get home at night. If pumping at work is just too much for you, remember that it is better to keep breastfeeding your baby when you are home and supplementing with formula while at work, then to quit breastfeeding completely.

While home for maternity leave, it is very helpful if you can pump breast milk and store it in the freezer for when you return to work. You need to build up a supply. Try to pump either first thing in the morning or before you go to sleep at night each day. When storing breast milk, label the storage bags with the date and remember the rule of 3’s: It can sit out at room temperature for 3 hours, in the refrigerator for 3 days, and in the freezer for 3 months. You can store it in a bottle within a freezer bag with a large ice pack at work for up to 12 hours.


Tips for Pumping at Work

  • Invest in a double electric breast pump
  • Pump in a locked room where you can relax
  • Stick to a strict pumping schedule
  • Avoid scheduling meetings during pumping times
  • Bring your baby’s blanket to smell while you pump to help your milk release
  • If you need to be able to type and check emails while pumping, buy a pumping bra that allows you to be hands free
  • Focus on the fact that you are providing nutrition for your baby while providing financially!

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