A Pumping Plan to Go Back to Work

Birth You Desire pumping Step by step plan for families going back to work. Our intention is to help make this transition as smooth as possible for everyone.

One month before the first day at work:
Start pumping once a day.  Usually, you will have the most supply first thing in the morning.  The purpose of this is to build up a freezer stash that is not excessive. Most lactation consultants would like you to have about 100 oz in the freezer.

You only need 100 oz because, in theory, you only need to be one day ahead with stored milk.  Ideally, when you are at work you are pumping food for the next day.  However, you want to have a cushion of extra milk in the event there are issues with supply due to extended separation.   A few days (up to a week’s worth) may be a good idea to start.  The concern with pumping too much is that it can create oversupply, which can be difficult to deal with.

Before you return to work:

Make sure you have a good pumping situation at work and if there are concerns start troubleshooting with your boss now. Verify where and when you will be able to pump.  Does the room have a door and a lock? Is it publicly accessible? Will there be a pump available for you to use? Lastly, where will you store the milk and how will you label it so it doesn’t get confused with coffee creamer?

Once you are back to work:

You should have enough milk stored, and available for the first day back to work.  To maintain this supply, you should nurse the baby as much as possible when you are at home. While working a normal 8-hour workday, you can pump:

  • Once in the morning,
  • Lunchtime
  • Once in the afternoon,
  • And nurse baby as soon as you get home.

If your milk supply drops, consider renting a hospital-grade pump which will increase the demands at the breast and decrease your pumping time. Contact an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to work out any kinks and discuss supplements to support breastfeeding if necessary.

Some babies will choose to practice “reverse cycle nursing” when their mom goes back to work.  This is where the baby nurses around the clock except when mom is at work, often at night.  This practice helps to keep the mom’s supply up and babies can go a long stretch during the day with fewer feedings (much like if they were sleeping through the night).  To support this, if necessary, avoid having the childcare provider overfeed the baby during the day so that the baby is ready to nurse when mom comes home.