6 Tips for Pumping Breast Milk at Work

breast pumpAll right natural mamas, we know how committed you are to breastfeeding your baby as long as possible. And if you're returning to work after having your baby, you know what that means: Pumping milk at work. It may sound daunting, but you can do it! Here's what you need to know. Show up prepared and your transition will be so much easier -- we hope. There are no guarantees when it comes to breastfeeding and pumping. But hopefully these tips will help you get off to the best start.


1. Know your company's policy. There are laws protecting a mother's right to pump breast milk at work in privacy, but some of the smallest companies are exempt. If you can, let your employer know you plan to pump at work and make sure they have a plan for accommodating you. Some employers are a little late to the game, so giving them some advance notice helps them figure out a plan in time for your return.

2. Start pumping a week or two before you return to work. It takes a while for your body to adjust to pumping, and you'll also most likely need some practice using a pump. You'll produce just a little milk at first, and then your supply will usually rise. Pumping just once a day for about 15 minutes (or until you run out of milk) is enough. Freeze the milk in case you need backup after you start work.

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3. Don't obsess over quantity. Seriously, don't stress out over it. Milk production can vary greatly. A woman may pump one to three ounces per session -- that's for both breasts, not one. Pump what you can, and supplement with your surplus or with formula if you have to.

4. Plan to pump two to three times a day. Each session should last 10 to 20 minutes. Do one session for every feeding missed if you can. For some moms this may be three times during an eight-hour day. I remember my son adjusting his feedings so he ate more before and after work; I pumped only twice a day.

5. Relax. This is hard to do at work, I know. But before you get started, clear your head, take some deep breaths, and mentally disengage from work as much as possible. A lot of moms say looking at a photo of their baby while pumping helps a lot.

6. Store and transport carefully. As soon as you've finished pumping, cover your milk with a cap. The Centers for Disease Control says fresh breast milk can be kept at room temperature for six to eight hours. But to be on the safe side, refrigerate the milk as soon as you can. Transport home in an insulated bag if you can. If you're not planning to use the milk within a day or two, write the date on it. You can keep fresh breast milk in the refrigerator for 24 hours, or in the freezer for two weeks. Thaw frozen milk in the refrigerator or under hot water; microwaving breast milk will kill off nutrients.

Do you have any other pumping advice to give new moms?


Image via planet oleary/Flickr

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