Pumping Schedules for Returning to Work

Heading back to work is possibly the biggest disrupter to your feeding journey. 

It really is a huge topic, worthy of its own book (or two), but here are the highlights of pump schedules for work: 

  • If you want to keep your supply the same, you will need to keep removing about the same milk from your breasts. To do this you might shift around some sessions to cluster outside your work hours. You could also increase your duration for those sessions. 
  • If you are ok with reducing your supply, then you can gradually reduce the number of pump sessions that you’d need at work. If you still wanted to provide your baby breast milk, you could draw on a previous stash while you let your supply fall. 

As for schedules, a good method we have seen is to pump the next workday’s feed today. So on Monday you pump for Tuesday, on Tuesday you pump for Wednesday. This way, to prepare for returning to work, all you need is one workday’s worth of milk, plus an extra just in case. Then each day your baby’s carer simply takes yesterday’s milk, which you replace when you get home or send with them to daycare. 

Some other notes on pumping schedules at work: 

  • Setting and sticking to a schedule while at work is hard. You get busy, your workplace, job itself or workmates may not be that supportive, your pump setup and cleaning session may take longer than you think because it all has to be portable, or you may simply find it hard to get milk flowing when your baby isn’t there. 
  • Consider your pump type. One interesting recent study, surveyed over 500 doctors who pumped when they returned to work. They found that using wearable pumps (as opposed to traditional pumps) was correlated with having shorter lactation breaks (presumably because they were pumping while working), and also with being able to provide their baby with milk for as long as they had planned to. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a wearable pump is the way to go for you, but it could be worth considering. 

Pumping when you return to work is such a huge topic. We'll publish more on it soon. 

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