Breastfeeding and going back to work can be a little stressful. Okay, a lot stressful. You have been working hard these last twelve weeks getting to know your baby. Learning to breastfeed. Practicing the different positions and finding which one works best for you both.

You have suffered through the sore nipples and raging hormones. You are hopefully getting more sleep at night now because your maternity leave is just about up, and you have to start planning on returning to work. But you aren’t sure how to balance work life and breastfeeding.

Where do you start?

Here are some tips for breastfeeding and going back work.

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breastfeeding and going back to work

Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work

Start pumping from day one

This will not only help establish your milk supply, but you will become accustomed to using your pump when you have to be away from baby.

My favorite pump and the one I recommend to everyone who asks, is the Spectra S1 Breast Pump.

You can read a full review on this pump here. In this review I go through all the features of the pump, and teach you how to use it.

Start freezing extra milk early

When your body is in oversupply mode you will easily have enough to store. This will give you a head start once you have to return to work.

Read more on creating a huge breast milk freezer stash.

I use the Lansinoh storage bags.They are affordable, have a double zipper seal, and they can stand on their own when you are filling them up or storing in the refrigerator.

When you are freezing your precious breast milk, you need to make sure you have it in something you know will keep it safe and fresh.

Bring the flange, valve, bottles assembled and ready for use.

This saves you a minute or two of time. Valuable time during your work day.

Get gallon size Ziplock bags and have everything you need ready to go.

Talk to your boss/manager/coworkers ahead of time

So they can help you have the time to pump. It is federal law that lactating mothers are given adequate time and a private space for pumping.

Read more about your pumping rights as a lactating mother.

Bring your phone with pictures and videos of baby

To help you relax and mentally step out of your work day. This will improve let down.

Get more tips on how to maximize your breast milk output while pumping.

Buy a hands free pumping bra

This will allow you to double pump (get it done faster), as well as have a snack or do any paperwork you may need to do. I have these in black and beige. They are super comfortable, and they securely hold the pump flanges to your breasts.


Bring a cooler pack to keep breast milk in

You may have a refrigerator at work and if you feel comfortable using that then by all means. However, the risk of the milk getting spilled or misplaced is too great.

Check out these options below:


Microwaveable steam sanitizer bags

These ones by Medela are perfect and can be reused up to 20 times each! They are a great tool to help you clean your parts quickly.

Making sure you keep all of your breast pump parts clean every day is vital. Bacteria loves the sweet environment and will flourish if you don’t clean your equipment right. 

Read the guidelines for cleaning your pump parts from the CDC here.


Make a mental plan for yourself when you will take your pump breaks.

It is very easy to get caught up in your work and lose track of time. Trust me, I get it. I work as an ER nurse. Time is very lacking when I am at work. 

That is why it is so important to make a plan and stick to it. Pumping at work is like scheduling an appointment for yourself. 

To maintain your breast milk supply when you are away from your baby, you need to make sure you are pumping as often as your baby would be breastfeeding. Use this pumping log to help you keep track of your pumping times and milk outputs. (get more color options here)

pumping log

Find what works best for you

Some prefer short periods more frequently, while others prefer longer sessions less often.

If you notice a decrease in your supply add in power pump sessions even on days you are home with baby.


Put baby to breast as much as possible while you are home with her

This help promote release of oxytocin, which in turn improves lactation.

Related: Breastfeed on a Schedule or on Demand?

It is very possible to return to work while exclusively breastfeeding. It’s not easy, but you can do it! Just remember to relax. Stress will not help your supply. Happy pumping!