working mom pumping breast milk while at work and on a schedule

How to Create a Pumping Schedule for Working Moms

Hey there, super mama!  You may be here because your maternity leave is ending and you are dreading your first day back at work. I get it – I’ve been there – twice!

Balancing your career with motherhood can be both rewarding and challenging, but fear not, we are here to guide you through one crucial aspect of this journey – pumping breast milk while being a working mom.

As you navigate the realm of pumping at work, it’s essential to establish a schedule that works best for you and your baby. In this article, we will provide you with valuable information and practical tips on creating an effective pumping schedule that ensures an ample milk supply while allowing you to excel in your professional life.

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Understanding the Basics of Pumping at Work

Breastfeeding is one of the most important things you can do for your baby, but it can be challenging for working moms. Pumping is a great solution to continue breastfeeding while returning to work. Here are some basics to help you get started.

Different Types of Breast Pumps Available in the Market

There are three types of breast pumps available in the market: manual, electric, and hospital-grade. Manual pumps are the most affordable and portable option. They work by using a hand pump to create suction. Electric pumps are more expensive, but they are faster and more efficient than manual pumps. They work by using an electric motor to create suction. Hospital-grade pumps are the most powerful and expensive option. They are designed for moms who need to pump frequently or have difficulty with milk supply.

Choosing the Right Breast Pump for Work

Choosing the right pump is crucial to make the pumping experience comfortable and efficient. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a pump:

  • Frequency of use: If you plan to pump frequently, an electric or hospital-grade pump may be a better choice than a manual pump.
  • Comfort: Look for a pump with adjustable suction and speed settings. Some pumps also offer massage modes to mimic a baby’s sucking pattern and stimulate milk flow.
  • Portability: If you plan to pump on the go, look for a pump that is lightweight and easy to carry. Even better, get a hands-free pump where you can pump discreetly. 
  • Noise level: If you plan to pump in a shared workspace, look for a pump that operates quietly.
working mom pumping breast milk at work

Creating a Pumping Schedule at Work

As a working mom, creating a pumping schedule is an essential part of maintaining your breastfeeding routine. It can be challenging to balance work and pumping, but with a little planning, you can make it work. Here are some steps to help you create a pumping schedule that works for you.

Understand Your Rights to Pump at Work

As a working mom, it’s important to be aware of your rights when it comes to pumping at the workplace. In many countries, there are laws in place to protect the rights of breastfeeding mothers and to ensure they have the necessary support to express milk during working hours. For example, in the United States, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a private, non-bathroom space for hourly employees to express breast milk for up to one year after the child’s birth.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific laws and regulations in your region regarding breastfeeding and pumping at work. Additionally, open communication with your employer about your pumping needs can help create a supportive and accommodating work environment. By understanding and advocating for your rights as a working mom, you can ensure that you have the necessary support to balance your career and breastfeeding journey.

Assessing Your Work Routine and Availability for Pumping Breaks

The first step in creating a pumping schedule is to assess your work routine and availability for pumping times. You need to know how long you’ll be away from your baby and how many pumping sessions you’ll need to fit into your workday.

Consider factors such as your commute time, work schedule, and job responsibilities. If you have a flexible work schedule, you may be able to adjust your work hours to accommodate pumping breaks. If you work in a job with set hours, you may need to schedule your pumping breaks around your work schedule. You may also consider pumping on your lunch break or other breaks. 

desk with a manual breast pump, baby bottle, and work laptop

Determining the Frequency and Duration of Pumping Sessions

Once you have assessed your work routine and availability for pumping breaks, the next step is to determine the frequency and duration of your pumping sessions.

According to Healthline, the frequency of pumping sessions will depend on the age of your baby and feeding schedule. As a general rule, you should aim to pump every three to four hours during the workday.

The duration of your pumping sessions will depend on how much milk you need to express and how quickly you can pump. On average, a pumping session should take about 15 to 20 minutes. However, some women may need a longer or a shorter length of time, depending on their milk supply and pumping efficiency.

To help you keep track of your pumping schedule, consider using a pumping log or app. This can help you monitor your milk supply, track your pumping sessions, and ensure that you are meeting your breastfeeding goals.

By taking the time to create a pumping schedule that works for you, you can maintain your breastfeeding routine while also managing your work responsibilities. With a little planning and preparation, you can make breastfeeding and working a successful combination.

working mom in a suit on the way to work holding a bottle of breast milk

Sample Pumping Schedules for Working Moms

Here are some sample pumping schedules for working moms to show how to fit pump sessions in during the work day.

Mom working a 9-5 office job

  • 6:00 am – Pump/nurse baby before work
  • 9:00 am – Pump
  • 12:00 pm – Pump
  • 3:00 pm – Pump
  • 6:00 pm – Pump/nurse baby
Pumping Schedule for Working Moms 9 to 5

Nurse working a 12-hour day shift from 7 am to 7 pm

  • 6:00 am – Pump/nurse baby before work
  • 9:00 am – Pump
  • 1:00 pm – Pump
  • 5:00 pm – Pump
  • 8:00 pm – Pump/nurse baby 
Pumping Schedule for Working Moms Nurse

Teacher pumping twice during the school day

  • 6:00 am – Pump/nurse baby before work
  • 10:00 am – Pump
  • 2:00 pm – Pump
  • 6:00 pm – Pump/nurse baby
Pumping Schedule for Working Moms Teacher

Tips for Efficient Pumping at Work

As a working mom, finding time to pump can be challenging and stressful. Here are some tips to help you pump more effectively at work.

Find a Comfortable, Private Space for Pumping

When it comes to pumping at work, finding a comfortable and private pumping space is essential. Talk to your employer about providing a dedicated lactation room or a private room where you can pump comfortably. If your employer does not have a designated space, consider using an empty office or conference room.

Make sure the appropriate space is clean and has a comfortable chair and a table to place your pump and supplies. You may also want to bring a picture of your baby or a piece of clothing that smells like them to help you relax and stimulate letdown.

You may also want to print a “Do Not Disturb” sign to post on the door to prevent any unwanted interruptions. 

Preparation is Key

To make pumping at work more efficient, prepare in advance. Pack your pump, supplies, and milk storage bags the night before and keep them in a designated bag or cooler. This will save you time in the morning and ensure that you have everything you need.

You may also want to consider wearing clothes that are easy to pump in, such as a nursing bra or a top with a built-in pumping bra. This will make it easier to set up and take down your pump and allow you to pump discreetly.

And I recommend packing extra breast pump parts, such as tubing, backflow protectors, and duck valves. It’s always a good idea to have backups if you notice your breast pump suction becoming weaker. 

new mom pumping breast milk while at work

Maintaining Milk Supply

Proper nutrition and hydration are crucial for maintaining your milk supply. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and eat a balanced diet that includes protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.

Consider keeping healthy snacks on hand, such as nuts, fruit, and vegetables, to help you stay energized and nourished throughout the day. You may also want to consider packing some of these yummy [lactation brownie boobie bites], to help support milk production.

Tips for Storing and Transporting Breast Milk while Working

Breast milk is liquid gold for working mothers who want to continue breastfeeding their babies. It is important to store and transport breast milk safely to maintain its nutritional value and prevent contamination. Here are some tips to help you store and transport your breast milk safely:

Guidelines on Storing Milk at Work

When storing breast milk in the refrigerator, use glass or BPA-free plastic containers with tight-fitting lids. It is best to store breast milk in small amounts of 2-4 ounces (60-120 ml) to avoid waste. Breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days at a temperature of 32-39°F (0-4°C).

If you need to store breast milk for a longer period, freezing is the best option. Use breast milk storage bags or containers that are specifically designed for freezing breast milk. Make sure to leave some room at the top of the container or bag to allow for expansion during freezing. Your freezer stash of milk can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months at a temperature of 0°F (-18°C).

Proper Labeling Techniques to Avoid Confusion or Waste

Label each container or bag of breast milk with the date it was expressed. If you are storing breast milk in the freezer, also label it with the amount of milk in the container or bag. This will help you keep track of how much milk you have and use the oldest milk first to avoid waste.

Safety Measures When Transporting Pumped Milk from Work to Home

When transporting breast milk from work to home, use a cooler bag with ice packs to keep the milk at a safe temperature. If you are driving, make sure to place the cooler bag in the back seat of your car, away from direct sunlight and heat. If you are taking public transportation, keep the cooler bag with you at all times and avoid placing it on the floor.

Managing Challenges: Troubleshooting Common Issues about Pumping at Working

Breastfeeding and pumping can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Many working moms face similar challenges when it comes to pumping at work. Here are some tips to help you troubleshoot common issues.

stash of frozen breast milk from working mom and using a pumping schedule

Low Milk Supply Concerns: Tips to Boost Production

If you’re concerned about your milk supply, there are several things you can do to boost production. First, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy diet. I love eating these lactation brownie boobie bites! You may also want to try pumping more frequently or for longer periods to stimulate milk production. Another option is to try using a breast pump that has a stronger suction or massage feature to help stimulate milk flow.

Handling Discomfort or Pain While Using a Breast Pump

Using a breast pump can be uncomfortable or even painful at times, but there are ways to minimize discomfort. Make sure you’re using the correct breast shield size and that it’s positioned correctly. You may also want to try using a lubricant such as lanolin to help reduce friction. If you’re experiencing pain, try adjusting the suction strength or massage feature on your breast pump. If the pain persists, consult a lactation consultant or your healthcare provider.

Dealing with Stress, Guilt, and Emotional Challenges

Pumping at work can be emotionally challenging, especially if you’re dealing with stress or guilt about leaving your baby. Remember that you’re doing the best you can for your baby and that pumping at work is a way to provide them with the benefits of breast milk. Take breaks when you need to, and try to find a quiet and relaxing place to pump. You may also want to talk to a supportive friend or family member or seek out a support group for working moms.

new mom pumping breast milk with Spectra breast pump while at work

Frequently Asked Questions about Pumping at Work

Create Your Pumping Schedule for Work

Finding the right pumping schedule as a working mom can be a challenging task. However, with some planning, organization, and support from your workplace and loved ones, it is absolutely possible to maintain a successful breastfeeding journey while juggling work responsibilities. 

Now that you have some guidelines and sample schedules, it’s time to draft your own pumping schedule for work. Feel free to share your best tips and tricks below!

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