Most mothers pump milk during the time that they are separated from their babies. Pumping prevents engorgement and maintains the mother's milk supply. The pumped milk is then given to
the baby by the caregiver during mother's absence. Mother also nurses the baby frequently
during the time that they are together.
Before you return to your job, you'll need to rent or purchase a breast pump and learn how to
pump your breasts, and you'll also need to consider how pumping milk will fit into your
The when, where and how of pumping depends on your workplace, your work schedule and
your own personal preferences. Here are some points to consider.
Where will you pump? At your desk? In the ladies' room? Can you borrow an office or
use an empty room to pump in privacy? Ideally, the place you pump will have an outlet so
you can plug in an electric pump and running water for washing pump parts. You'll also need
a comfortable chair and a table for your equipment, your lunch, or any paperwork you might
want to look at while you're pumping.
Where will you store the milk? A refrigerator where you can store expressed milk is handy,
though you can substitute ice packs and a cooler. See Storing Human Milk for more information.
- How often to pump. You will need to pump about as often as your baby nurses, in other
words, every two to three hours. If you work an eight-hour day, this means pumping at mid-
morning, at lunch and at mid-afternoon. If your workday is shorter, you will need fewer
pumping sessions; if it's longer, you'll need more. As baby begins to take solid food and
nurses less, toward the end of the first year, you will be able to cut back on your pumping. If
you pump both breasts at the same time, allow 15-20 minutes for pumping and clean-up.
Allow 30 minutes if you pump each breast separately.
MAKING PUMPING WORK IN YOUR WORKPLACE
There are as many solutions to combining working and breastfeeding as there are women who
are doing it. Work out a plan for when and where you will pump and where and then present it to your
supervisor. If you know other women in your workplace who have pumped milk for their babies,
talk to them about the problems they encountered and how they solved them.
If you run into obstacles, look for solutions. Be flexible, consider your employer's needs as well
as your own, and you should be able to solve problems that arise. Remember that you're
doing this for your baby--so that she can continue to have the very best nourishment, as
well as the security of breastfeeding when the two of you can be together.
Finding a place to pump. Obviously, you'll need some privacy. Consider the ladies' lounge,
an unused private office, or a storage room with a lock on the door. If you work for a large
company that employs many women of child-bearing age, you may be able to convince your
employer of the need for a lactation center, which might include a room set aside for
pumping, hospital-grade pumps, and milk storage facilities.
Alternatives to consider. Pumping isn't your only option. Perhaps you can visit your baby
and breastfeed at the caregiver's house during your lunch break. Or, maybe your baby can visit you
at work. Can you work partime hours for a few months, so that you won't need to pump as often?
Can you do some of your work at home? With a baby in your life, you'll
find creative ways to get your work done while also mothering your baby.
- Finding time to pump. If you have regular breaks at work, these will become your pumping
times. If your schedule is unpredictable, the need to pump may help you become more
disciplined. If you are using an electric pump, it's possible to read or eat lunch while
pumping, even double-pumping.