Breastfeeding and going back to work can be a little stressful. Okay, it is 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. And 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. I got your back, mama.

breastfeeding going back to work

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How to Manage Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work


When to start pumping after your baby is born?

Start using your breast pump within the first couple of days that your baby is born. This will help establish your milk supply. And you will become accustomed to using your pump when you have to be away from baby.

There will be a time period for adjustment with your milk supply. And in the beginning, especially when pumping and breastfeeding, you may have an oversupply.

The most important thing to remember is to pump enough. Mastitis is a complication that occurs when milk ducts become clogged. So keep the milk moving and pump.

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.

Before I got my Spectra, I was about to quit breastfeeding because my supply was so low. But it wasn’t me, mama. It was the breast pump I was using. Getting a Spectra breast pump, saved my breast milk supply.

Start building a breast milk freezer stash early on

When your body is in oversupply mode you will easily have enough to save. 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.

breast milk freezer stash

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.

All you need is gallon size Ziplock bags and have your pump flanges and valves already assembled. So when you go to pump, you have one less thing to worry about.

Talk to your boss/coworkers ahead of time

It’s okay to let people know you are breastfeeding and will need accommodations to pump. I know it might seem awkward at first, especially if you work with men. But if they know your needs 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

Having pictures or videos of your baby while you are pumping at work will help stimulate oxytocin. Oxytocin is the milk making hormone you need to get things flowing. It’s your happy hormone.

It can be difficult to step out of your “work day mentality” and relax enough to pump. So focus on what makes you happy, your baby! I bet it will help more than you realize.

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

Use a hands free pumping bra

This will allow you to double pump, aka, get it done faster. And having your hands free will allow you to have a snack or do some Amazon browsing perhaps?

If you haven’t already gotten a hands free pumping bra, check them out!


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. (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.

breastfeeding supply and demand


Nurse your baby as much as possible while you are home with them

The more you nurse, the stronger your breast milk supply will be. Remember, breastfeeding is a supply and demand mechanism.

Related: Breastfeed on a Schedule or on Demand?

Breastfeeding and going back to work is tough, but completely possible!

It is very possible to return to work while exclusively breastfeeding. I hope these tips help you out.