Ready, Set, Pump! Tips for Returning to Work While Breastfeeding

There were times during my son’s first year of life that I felt like I’d welcomed not one, but two new members to our family: our baby and my breast pump. I returned to full-time work when he was 16 weeks old and I pumped milk for him at my office until he was 11 months old.

Three times a day, I would close my office door and set up my little machine to express milk for my baby. I don’t know how many hours I spent hooked up to that gizmo but it was enough that I got really efficient at the whole process. I won’t say it was the best part of being a working mother (happy hour on a day when daddy could do pick-up takes that title) but it doesn’t have to be a chore either.

The biggest piece of advice I would give any mom returning to the workplace with plans to pump is to know your rights. Under the Affordable Care Act, all employers must provide reasonable breaks and a private space (other than a bathroom) for mothers to express milk. Click here for a fact sheet about the rules from the US Department of Labor. Talk with HR before you return from leave to work out the details of how this will work with your particular job. 

Also, practice pumping at home so you know about how long you’ll need for breaks and work with your job to structure them into your day. Check out the space they’ll give you to pump and ask if you can alter it to make it more comfortable. Sure, shelling out your own money for a lamp and a back support pillow might seem like a drag, but you’re going to spending a lot of time in there so it’s worth the investment. And make sure both HR and your supervisor are clued in to your needs as you return and as they change over time. Communication is key for any working mother!

Here are a few other practical things to pick up to help with pumping at work:

  • A Good Pump 1 of 9
    A Good Pump
    This is not an item to skimp on. If you're gong to pump every day, spring for the good pump. Try to find a lactation specialist in your area who can help you pick the right one for you.
    Babies R Us
  • Hands-free Pumping Bra 2 of 9
    Hands-free Pumping Bra
    This is a must have for pumping at work because it lets you use your pumping time to sort emails or file documents or other easy tasks. Just don't get on a conference call with the pump going in the background!
  • Storage Containers for Pump Parts 3 of 9
    Storage Containers for Pump Parts
    A good sized container holds pump parts between sessions so you don't have to leave them in the break room to dry after washing.
    Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Shawl 4 of 9
    Whether you'll be pumping in the privacy of your own office or a more communal space, having a big shawl to throw over your shoulders gives you an extra layer of protection against untimely walk-ins and frigid blasts of a/c.
  • Snacks and Water 5 of 9
    Snacks and Water
    Pumping, like nursing, can make you hungry and thirsty so be prepared!
    Photo Credit: photo stock
  • A Picture of Your Baby 6 of 9
    A Picture of Your Baby
    Looking at a picture of your little one's cute face can help your milk let down while pumping.
    Photo Credit: photo stock
  • Small Cooler for Milk 7 of 9
    Small Cooler for Milk
    Some pumps come with a bag and ice pack or you can buy them at a baby store. You'll need to get two: one for you at work and one for the baby at daycare!
    Babies R Us
  • Steam Cleaning Bags 8 of 9
    Steam Cleaning Bags
    These reusable bags go in the microwave and sanitize pump parts. Very quick and easy cleaning!
    Babies R Us
  • Spare Bottles 9 of 9
    Spare Bottles
    You need enough bottles for your pumping needs, plus the baby's needs, plus a few extra in case some get mislaid. Some people like to transport pumped milk in storage bags but I preferred bottles because I was taking public transportation and didn't want bags getting jostled open.
    Babies R Us


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Article Posted 5 years Ago

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