5 Pumping Tips for Returning to Work While Breastfeeding


The first time I returned to work as a nursing mom, I read all the blog posts and followed all the breastfeeding experts on Instagram. But, I wish I’d had a mom friend that had been in my shoes to walk me through the process. I hope that with these five pumping tips, I can be that mom friend to you.

I am not an exclusively breastfeeding mom. My first was supplemented from two weeks, and my second exclusively breastfed until I returned to work. However, I’m passionate about giving my boys any breast milk my body is able to provide. As our pediatrician told me as I sobbed in his office, any breast milk is good breast milk!

Here are five tips that have helped me survive this far:

1) Practice with Your Pump

All pumps are not created equal. Take some time to get to know your pump and all its settings. Getting to know your settings is key to stimulating a letdown and keeping your milk flowing. The second time around, I went with a new pump for work and had to re-learn what I thought I knew. YouTube is your friend! Getting to know the different parts of the pump will also help you have a quick and productive pump session at work. This will help you assemble everything quickly when you are on limited time. I like to wash and dry everything, then reassemble my set-up for the next pump session. This way you can start immediately and not waste time setting up your bottles.

2) Always Have Spare Parts

You will forget parts, it’s a guarantee! Even the most seasoned pumper will drop a flange running out the door. I always recommend having a manual hand pump at work. This is the backup of the backup but will save your butt if all else fails. Have the basics like tubes, flanges, and a bottle if possible. In desperate times, also know what stores carry spare parts for your pump. Target has been my go too on several occasions when I had no other option, and I was about to burst.

3) Create a Flexible Schedule and Communicate

A key to success on your working/breastfeeding journey is communication. I cannot stress enough how important it is to sit down with your boss and talk about your plan to breastfeed. Have this conversation before maternity leave starts. Consider discussing what room you will pump in and make sure it has a chair, lock, and electrical outlets. Have a basic schedule of your pumping times. Typically, you’d pump three times in an 8-hour shift. Let your boss know this will take 15 to 20 minutes plus time to wash your pump parts.

» » » »  RELATED READ: What I Wish I Had Known from the Get-Go as a Working Mom  « « « «

The first time I went back to work I was adamant that I had to pump at the golden 3-hour mark because if not, I would lose the little supply I had. I learned quickly that the working breastfeeding world is not perfect, and I had to be flexible. Do not wrack your brain if you are a little late for a pump session. It will be okay.

5 Tips for Returning to Work While Breastfeeding
I like to use the quiet time while pumping to catch up on emails.

4) Give the Pump a Break

After a week full of pumping and working, give yourself a much-needed break on weekends. This is not expert advice; this is me telling you what works for my mental health. I take the weekend to put the pump down and just nurse my boy on demand. Honestly, this is what has helped keep me going on both of my breastfeeding journeys.  The feeling of holding my little boy and nursing when he needs me is the push I need to keep going. I do the same after work. I put the pump away and nurse.

5) Take a Deep Breath

Take a deep breath, momma! This journey is not for the faint of heart and is honestly exhausting. If you make it a week, bravo! If you make it a year, cheers! Do what is best for you. Remember, your mental health comes first. If you supplement with formula or decide this is not for you, that is okay. Your baby will be fine and fed. Most importantly, they will love you and need you no matter what.

Returning to work after maternity leave is a difficult time. Nothing prepares you for the day you return. However, with these five tips for returning to work while breastfeeding and a little preparation, you will be okay. If you are embarking on your first breastfeeding journey, you got this!

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of El Paso Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.

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Vickie Enriquez
Victoria Enriquez is known to her family and friends as Vickie. She was born and raised in El Paso and spent some time away after grad school launching her career in engineering. By day she is an Environmental, Health, and Safety Engineer, and by night mama to Emiliano, Emi for short. She has been married to her husband Roger since July of 2015. She is a coach’s wife and loves every second of their sports-filled, busy lives! In the fall, you can find her and Emi in the football stands, and in the spring, you’ll find them on the baseball diamond cheering on their #1 guy. In 2018 she became a mom to a perfect rainbow baby, Emiliano. He is a true miracle in her and her husband’s life, and he is the center of their world. Her husband and son are the greatest joys. Vickie spends her free time volunteering with the Junior League of El Paso giving back to her community. She wants her son to grow up in a life of service and giving back, teaching him kindness and compassion. Follow Vickie on Instagram here.


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