How to Manage Pumping at Work Post-Maternity Leave
Managing both nursing and pumping can feel like a juggling act for any new mom. And if you're planning to pump at work when you return, there are a few extra things to think about and plan for – both before baby arrives and after you’ve given birth. Check out the steps below to help with pumping, nursing, and returning to work. Preparation will be key in helping to make your transition as smooth as possible and help you meet your pumping and breastfeeding goals!
While You're Pregnant
Contact your Human Resources Department
Review your company’s maternity leave policy with your manager or Human Resources Department. Make sure your employer has all the information they need to prepare for your time away, and that you fully understand the details of your maternity leave policy.
Research and select childcare
Explore your options to determine the best childcare fit for you and your family. Whether you choose an in-home caregiver or take your little one to a licensed, offsite childcare at a business or someone’s home, it’s important to schedule a meeting early on and, if necessary, add yourself to a wait list to guarantee a spot.
Be prepared early with all the breastfeeding supplies you'll need for pumping at work after your return. Look for a good quality double breast pump, as well as other products to help with organization and breast milk storage.
After Baby Arrives
Practice pumping and build your breast milk supply
Once your milk supply is well established begin pumping a little extra to freeze each day so you have some milk in reserve for when you return to work. If you’re not able to build a surplus, don’t stress – many moms simply use the fresh milk they pump at work for feedings the next day, and refrigerate Friday’s milk for use on Monday (saving frozen milk for emergencies).
Connect with your childcare provider
Before returning to work, visit your childcare provider with your baby and spend some time getting comfortable. Write down some notes for reference that includes baby’s normal feeding and nap schedule, plus any other helpful hints that can help make a smooth transition for everyone involved. Consider asking your caregiver to download and use the MyMedela app to keep track of your baby’s feedings, diapers, and sleep so you stay informed of any changes or disruptions in your baby’s schedule – even when you’re not there.
Set a flexible schedule
If possible, try to return in the middle of the week (a Wednesday or Thursday). This makes the first few days back at work easier by giving you a couple days to ease back into things before you go back for your first full workweek. Or if your employer allows it, try to set a flexible schedule like working part-time for the first couple of weeks.
When You’re Back at Work
This can be a challenging and emotional time, and it’s important to have support systems in place. Other moms who have made the transition back to work may be able to help answer your questions and ease your concerns, making the entire process easier to handle. Connecting with a Lactation Consultant or other resources specifically designed for moms returning to work can also yield helpful tips and advice.
Schedule times for pumping at work into your work calendar, planner, or phone. Having a designated calendar reminder can help to ensure you don’t get scheduled in meetings or caught up in work and are unable to pump. Your employer is required to allow you time and space to pump, so talk to them to figure out a break schedule that works for both parties.
Take time to care for yourself
Set aside time for yourself outside of work to decompress – try soaking in the bathtub, picking up a new book, enjoying a hot cup of tea, or even just quietly scrolling through your phone without any distractions or responsibilities. These brief moments can keep you feeling like yourself during a very busy time.
Pumping, nursing, and returning to work may seem daunting, but you can do it! On the hard days, be kind to yourself and take it one moment at a time. You’re working to do the best you can for you, your baby, and your family – and that’s worth it!