Mother Feeding Her Little Baby at Home, Focus on Breast Pump with Milk. Healthy Growth

5 Tips for Pumping When You Return to Work

Returning to work after welcoming a baby presents numerous logistical hurdles, from arranging childcare for your infant to navigating the emotional rollercoaster of the transition.

It’s normal to experience apprehension about managing everything, but taking steps to prepare for this shift can alleviate your concerns.

At the top of many lists when it comes to these important logistics is feeding and thus having to pump at work.

Baby bottle with milk and manual breast pump

Here are some tips to prepare for your breast pumping journey.

  1. Invest in a Wearable Breast Pump

Manual breast pumps require a lot of time and effort so they are not the best option for the office. Electric pumps don’t require time and effort but the battery is bulky and the ones that plug into an outlet require you to sit in one position while you pump.

This is why it makes sense to invest in a wearable pump. Wearable pumps are discreet as they fit right into your bra so you can pump while going about your regular work day.

Unlike conventional pumps that have tubes that need to be cleaned after every use, most wearable pumps are tubeless.

You can check out expert advice and user reviews to find out more about the best wearable breast pumps in the market. 

  1. Create a Pumping Schedule 

Don’t wait to return to work to create a pumping schedule. Ideally, it would help if you started pumping 3 to 4 weeks before you return to work so that you’re able to build your freezer stash.

Try pumping about an hour after you nurse your baby. At first, you might not be able to express a lot of milk, but your body will adjust within a few days and your milk supply will increase. Your pumping schedule should accommodate at least 3 sessions during an eight-hour workday. 

  1. Introduce the Bottle Early

It would be best if you waited for at least a month before introducing the bottle. If you wait for too long, your baby might be so used to breastfeeding that they may reject the bottle.

Decide when and how you want to introduce the bottle to your baby. If your spouse or a primary support person will be feeding the baby while you’re at work, it would be best to have that person bottle-feed your baby.

If this is your first time bottle feeding, you can check out various ways to introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby

  1. Plan Ahead 

Discuss all the details of your return to work with your manager. This should include break timings, pumping needs, and whether you can work remotely from home for a while to make the transition easier for both of you. If there is no refrigerator at work, you might have to use a cooler box to store your expressed milk. 

  1. Know your Rights 

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that your employer provide basic accommodations and breaks for breastfeeding moms. This law applies to hourly employees as well as salaried employees. 

You should also check out your state laws because by law, if the state laws impose greater worker protections, they will supersede those provided by the FLSA.

For example, the FSLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees, but Illinois state law applies the same legal responsibilities for employers with more than 5 employees, and in Connecticut, this is applicable even if the employer has just 2 employees! 

Some states also have laws that cover additional benefits—for example, California laws state that employers must provide a fridge to store pumped breast milk. This is why it is important to learn more about your rights before you talk with your employer.

It is important to plan ahead for pumping when you return to work, but don’t expect everything to go according to plan.

You might forget your nursing pads and leak milk on your shirt, or you may forget to lock the door while you’re pumping and a colleague might walk in on you. It can take a while for you to find a good balance between work and parenthood, so don’t be too hard on yourself.