Pumping schedule for working moms — The Bump
August 2015 Moms

Pumping schedule for working moms

tarheelgirl8tarheelgirl8 member
edited March 2015 in August 2015 Moms
Hi Everyone.  I'm really interested to hear from some veteran working moms about their experiences pumping after returning to work.  I've talked to several friends and family members about their breast feeding experiences and most of them have told me that they didn't last very long after going back to work.  How long did you continue to pump after returning to work?  What was your pumping schedule like?  Any tips or tricks for the logistics, or to stay motivated?  

If it matters, I plan on taking 8 weeks of maternity leave before returning to my full time job.  I work a normal 8-5, with occasional overtime.  I do have a private office with a locking door, so that will help a lot I think.  It is a communal fridge though.  Is it weird to store breast milk in the communal fridge?  LOL

Thanks for your insight!

Re: Pumping schedule for working moms

  • When I had DS I was very much a full time career momma (recently transitioned to SAHM). I went back after 13 weeks. A few weeks prior to going back I started to pump and build up a supply and then had DH give DS a bottle every now and then to make sure he would take the brand we had - thank GOD our son was one of the "easy" ones and we never had to try other brands, but some momma's have to try numerous types before finding one baby will take. You should def have someone else give them the bottle to get them used to it and not you since they know you have the real thing and they may not take it. As for actually pumping at work, I went into it fully intending to keep up with it and continue to BF, but unfortunately I would find I would get so caught up in my work, which was not all sitting in an office the whole time, and I would lose track of time and wouldn't pump as much as I should have. For this reason, my supply dried up sooner than I would have liked. Part of the issue for me too was the amount of time it took from start to finish to lock my office, cover the window (it had a shade, but let's be real, you can see through those things), set up the pump, actually pump, and then clean/take it apart again, etc. As for the fridge issue - my pump (Medela) came with an ice pack and mini cooler that you could put up to 4 bottles in, so that is what I did and kept it in my office and not the communal fridge. If I were still working that is the way I would go again, then you can put it with your car keys or something so you don't forget it at work. I think if I were doing it again I would also get a watch with an alarm or set an alarm on my cell phone for every 2 hours or so and make myself pump so maybe my supply would have lasted longer. Good luck!

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  • Thanks for the advice!  I've already thought about blocking off time on my calendar specifically for pumping.  I have primarily a desk job, but I tend to get caught up in things and I can see myself running into the same problem that you did.  

    I'm curious, how long did it take you start to finish to set up, pump, and clean up?  Is it feasible to multitask while you are actually pumping?  Answering email, etc.
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  • You can definitely multi-task, my pump was a double, I think it was called the Medela Free Style and it either came with or I bought a bra that literally holds the pump on your boobs so that you have your hands free. I wouldn't make phone calls while pumping though because it does make some noise, not a lot, but would be a weird background noise. As for how much time start to finish....I would honestly guess 30-45 minutes.

  • With my son I returned to work at 12 weeks and continued to pump until he was 1.

    I would pump twice while at work. Took about 30 minutes start to finish (go to the locked office, set up, pump, clean up). Pump time was 20 minutes. Honestly it created some issues at work (coworkers complaining I was off the floor too long, etc) but I stuck to my guns about then legally having to allow me to pump and honestly didn't care what anyone had to say. Keeping up with feeding him 100% breast milk was more important.

    I did drop it down to only one pump session when he started going longer between feelings.

    Good luck!
  • I went back when my son was 12 weeks and I breastfed exclusively until he was 13 months. I work 8-5 as well and have a desk job with my own office so I did it at my desk and I pumped at 9, 12, and 3. I did end up cutting it down to 2 pumpings towards the end but I needed to do the 3 to get the most, I just couldn't get as many ounces if I did only 2 sessions. It took about a half hour but then a little longer to wash the parts. We have a communal fridge as well but I just put the bottles or bags of milk in a lunch box I had so it wasn't just out in the open. I used the bra (or whatever you call it) so you can pump both breasts hands free. I would return emails or check things while pumping but definitely not phone calls because it's definitely loud enough to hear. It did get old doing it 3 times but I just kne
  • Oops... Rest of my response... It did get old doing it 3 times but I just knew I needed to it that many times to get the ounces he needed. Also, some days/pumping sessions you produce more and try not to be so obsessed with that. It usually levels out and I kept some frozen if I had a bad day of producing milk. Good luck! Oh also just make sure your colleagues now what you're doing (if you're comfortable with that) or put a please do not disturb sign on your door because I did have the occasional knock on my door while I was pumping so that was a pain.
  • I went back to work after 14 weeks and pumped until DD was 1.  I pumped 2x a day in the locked room in the nurse's office (I am a teacher).  

    This time I am planning on staying out for 10 weeks and pumping.  Because I got so much milk (I donated 700 oz once DD started whole milk), I may try to cut down on my pumping this time around.  

    I used a hands free bra and the Medela Freestyle breast pump.  I normally ate and graded papers while pumping so at least I was being productive.  I did not go to lunch most of the time since I was busy pumping and had other things to get done.   

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  • I went back to work after 12 weeks with DD and made it about 11 months before there just wasn't anything left to make pumping worth it. We did have to supplement some the last few months. My main issue was I was very stressed with my workload and I think I caught every cold/flu bug under the sun that first year of DD's life. Thankfully DD stayed fairly healthy, but I just couldn't catch a break. For awhile I even added an extra pumping session a couple hours after DD went to bed. In hindsight, I think that time would have been better spent letting me sleep. 

    My schedule: I fed her right before I left for work, DH did drop off at daycare and I did pick up. I double pumped 3 times a day, morning break, lunch and afternoon break. Each session took a total of 30 minutes on average. I'm salary so it didn't really matter, but to me that equated to an hour lunch and 2 - 15 minute breaks, just split up differently. So it really wasn't any more extra time off than any non-lactating mother would be allowed. Pumping time was 15-20 minutes. 

    I had trouble relaxing so I did not multi-task much, except for the occasional conference call. You definitely can multi-task. A pumping bra is a must. I also cut down on time by bringing 3 sets of pumping parts. I never felt comfortable with the zip-lock bag in the fridge method, with a communal fridge. The milk bottles were in their own zipped carrier and it had a picture of my baby in the clear ID area, so I think people were fairly respectful of it. It never looked tampered with. DH was a gem and did all the pump part washing at night to ready for the next day. 

    Pumping at work is a challenge, but it can be done. 

  • e1223e1223 member
    I pumped at work with both of my kids until at least 11 months, and then they got breastmilk til a year (and I still nursed morning/night until about 13-14 months with them). My work had a nursing mother's room that you could reserve, so I just reserved it 3 times a day and a reminder would pop up, and I knew to not schedule anything else then. It was really easy and close to my desk so not a big deal at all. There was a fridge in there so I just stored my milk and the freezer pack there until the last pumping time and then brought it all back to my desk. 

    At some point with my 1st (maybe 6 months in?) I went down to 2 pumping sessions a day and still made enough. I was lucky (in this respect - it causes other problems though) to have a slight oversupply so I never had an issue making enough milk.  With my 2nd right from the get go I just did 2 sessions a day, around 10am and 2pm or so and that was fine.

    Maybe someone already said this (didn't read all the responses) but a BIG timesaver for me was rinsing the pump parts and storing in a gallon ziplock in the fridge so you don't have to wash them in between pumping times. Breastmilk is technically safe for 8 hours at room temp so maybe they'd even be ok just rinsed and kept in your office. Rinsing pump parts in a communal sink might be weird but oh well, I'd still do it, and I will this next go round because I have an office with a lock too and don't want to go to the pumping room because it's kind of far away at this job. Some of my friends even just kept 8oz bottles on the flanges the whole day and stored in fridges in their pumping rooms too. 

    I know you hear a lot of stories where women aren't able to breastfeed after going back to work, but among my sample of friends, I know more that WERE able to nurse for over a year and also pump just fine while working full time. A few did have to supplement some with formula but I know quite a few full time working moms who nursed for a year or more with minimal issues. It does happen!
  • e1223e1223 member
    Oh yes, and I had a hands free bra - ESSENTIAL!! I was obsessive about building a supply with my first so pumped every day over maternity leave and ended up giving 600+ oz to my preemie niece. The 2nd time around I didn't do that but still ended up having a lot extra. Also, for me I was a very fast pumper and I think from the time I left my desk to when I got back was 15-20 minutes. I know I was really lucky in that respect - nevermind the millions of clogged ducts I got as a result of the oversupply..... but really it was worth it. (I say now 2.5 years later)
  • benmel31 said:

    I went back to work after 14 weeks and pumped until DD was 1.  I pumped 2x a day in the locked room in the nurse's office (I am a teacher).  

    This time I am planning on staying out for 10 weeks and pumping.  Because I got so much milk (I donated 700 oz once DD started whole milk), I may try to cut down on my pumping this time around.  

    I used a hands free bra and the Medela Freestyle breast pump.  I normally ate and graded papers while pumping so at least I was being productive.  I did not go to lunch most of the time since I was busy pumping and had other things to get done.   
    I'm glad to hear this. I'm a teacher and will be going back after 12 weeks. I wasn't able to be with DS1 but hoping to be able to with this baby. I'm just nervous about how they will find Someone to cover my class while I am pumping.
  • I went back after13 weeks. I pumped every three hours at first and then it dwindled to four and then so on and so on. My coworkers were super supportive and I never had any issues with them getting mad. But my pumping was quick, maybe 15 min and I would get about 4/5 ounces from each side.

    Legally, they have to allow you to pump if it's the primary source of nutrients for your LO. Mine was exclusively breast milk until 13 months, and I was applauded by my coworkers for not having to supplement and when I was ready to be done around 10 mo, they really encouraged me to go to 12!

    You can do it! Breast milk is the best you can give to your little one so go as long as you can! I also drank mothers milk tea to keep my supply up.w
    Good luck
  • With #1 I returned to work at 12w and pumped/BF until 6m. I didn't prepare enough ahead of returning to work. I only think I had a stash of 100oz in the freezer. I tried to pump 3x a day at work which was stressful and took up a good chunk of my day.

    With #2 I returned to work at 12w and pumped/BF until 1 year. I had close to 400oz in the freezer when I returned to work. I decided I would only pump 2x a day at work and whatever I was short I would supplement with my rotating stash. It worked well and I didn't get stressed about it. My pump sessions were always about 15-20 minutes long.
    BabyFruit Ticker


  • I went back to work when my son was about 14 weeks. I pumped 2-3 times a day. My lunch break (30 mins) and 2x 20 min breaks. I had my own office so that part was easy. I used the medela freestyle with a pumping bra. I stored the milk in the community fridge but it was inside a cooler bag that held 4 bottles of milk. I did this until he was about 10-11 months and slowly decreased the amount of pumping sessions at work per day. I am hoping to not have to worry about it this time since I am hoping to sahm after this baby but we will see. I highly suggest the medela pump part quick wipes, at least 1 set of spare pump parts and special hands free bra and cooler bag for transport :)
    Team Pink! Baby Girl due 8.2.15
    BabyFruit Ticker
  • I pumped until my daughter was 13 months. I went back to work at 12 weeks. I did NOT start pumping before I went to work, which was a mistake. I wasn't comfortable with my pump, my body wasn't used to pumping, and it created a lot of "milk stress." With this baby, I am going to pump while on leave as well at least 1/day to keep my milk supply high.

    For pumping, there's a couple of tips: 
    1) If your baby takes 3 bottles per day, you pump 3 times per day. NEVER skip pumping - your milk supply will drop. Even 5 minutes to stimulate is better than nothing.
    2) Try to pump the same number of ounces your baby takes per day. If they're drinking 20 ounces away from you, you should try to pump 20 ounces that day.
    3) Don't rely on "freezer supply." If you supplement your baby from your freezer supply without replacing it, your milk supply will drop.
    4) Learn to pump "hands free." Buy a cheap sports bra, cut holes in it for the flanges, and pump hands-free while eating lunch, working, etc. It takes a LOT of stress out of pumping.

    Here was my schedule while my baby as being EBF (until 6 months):

    1) Pump 5 AM
    2) Feed baby 6 AM
    3) Pump 9 AM
    4) Pump 12 PM
    5) Pump 3 PM
    6) Feed baby 4:30 PM
    7) Feed as baby demanded for rest of evening (we didn't feed on a "schedule" except to fully empty me after work)

    My schedule after baby started solids....DIDN'T CHANGE. I kept pumping 4 times per day and nursed as required at home. Better to pump too much than not enough. I managed to make it until 18 months nursing my daughter by working on my milk supply.

    If you milk supply is dropping, here are some tips:

    1) Add an extra pumping session to your day
    2) Power Pump! (Pump for 1 hour, 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off) daily for 1 week
    3) Take Fenugreek seed pills until you smell like maple syrup for 1 week
    4) Drink a LOT of water and make sure you're eating enough to make milk (500 calories extra per day)

    [Deleted User]tarheelgirl8
  • My first wouldn't latch so I pumped for 6 months (at work and home) and then stopped. I had a low supply the entire time so I pumped as much as I could (8-10 times/day only getting 10-12 oz).

    Thankfully my 2nd time around was much better.
    My DD was born 8/17, I took 7 weeks off and then returned. My pumping schedule is probably a little abnormal since I teach and don't get to pick my pumping times (and was in pain if I didn't pump/nurse every 3 hours) but it basically went like this:

    6:50 get to school and pump
    7:30-9:30 teach 1st/2nd hour
    9:30-10:20 pump/break
    10:30-11:20 teach 4th hour
    11:20-12:45 off  for 5th hour/lunch pump during that time (when depended on whether I had lunch duty or not)
    12:45-3:00 teach/after school tutor
    3:00 pump and leave to get kids from daycare

    I pumped in a closet in our library's office. They were nice enough to set it up for me as best they could. They had a sink and refrigerator for me to use immediately outside the office so I was grateful for that.

    I returned to work the first week of October and pumped until around July or so and continued to nurse until mid-August. I had enough stored in the freezer that she was EBF until her first birthday. It definitely requires dedication but is certainly doable if that is your priority.

    DS1: 8/3/10, DD1: 8/17/13, DD2: 8/13/15
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  • I pumped for 6 mo, and then stopped pumping at work. Nurses at home until 1 year. I belong to a FB group, nursing mother who make BF work. There's a lot of talk about "freemies" they allow you to pump with your shirt on. I will be trying these to see if I can pump longer with this LO.
    TTC since 10/09 Me-43 DH-44 RE and testing 10/10-11/10, Recommending IVF 1/11 New RE AMA and DOR-DH low motility IVF #1.1 cancelled 3/11 due to poor response IVF #1.2 May 2011, one perfect 8-cell embryo, 3dt-BFN, IVF #2.1 Converted to IUI d/t poor response. New RE 9/2011. IVF 2.2 completed using HGH,EPP,DHEA, Q-10 and accupuncture. Transferred one 8-cell, grade one embryo on 10/19. BFP 10/31/11 Chemical pregancy on 11/2/11. Started stims for IVF #3, our final try, on 12-2-11. ET on 12/18. Transferred 3 Grade A embryos-BFFN Planning DE IVF, late March/early April- Donors ER expected to be 4/2-4/4. PAIF/SAIF welcome
  • I pumped at work twice a day until LO was 11 months, then I relied on my freezer stash to get me through the last month or so of breast feeding. I also pumped right away in the morning when I woke up to get any ounces I needed to top off her bottles for the day. 

    I just kept my milk in the cooler with the freezer pack that comes with the pump so I didn't have to worry about putting it in the fridge after each session or risk forgetting the milk at work. 

    My advice would be to not let anyone at work give you a hard time about it (not that anyone should have the guts to do so!). It's your right to pump and if you are dedicated to it, you can make it work!
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