What you need to know about going back to work as a nursing mom

Many moms have mixed feelings about going back to work. From leaving your child for the first time, to being eager to get back to the workplace, it can be an emotional roller coaster! And if you’ve made the decision to continue to provide your baby with expressed breast milk, it can also leave you with a lot of questions about how your pumping schedule will work with your work schedule.

With some careful planning and commitment, you can make pumping at work, work. To help set you up for a successful work/pump relationship, our team of moms put together this handy timeline. Here’s what you need to do to prepare for pumping at the office.

1-2 Weeks After Birth

Focus on your baby

The first few days following giving birth are all about building a healthy nursing relationship with your baby. Learn how often and how long to feed your baby by watching for their cues. In the beginning, those can include everything from rooting for a nipple or sucking on their fingers. Crying is actually a late hunger cue, so try to follow the signs early on. The good news is, as time goes on, you’ll get better and better at knowing when your baby is hungry before your little peanut reaches the waterworks. Enjoy this time and don’t stress about going back to work.  Snuggle and enjoy some R&R with baby.  This will help build milk supply.

Schedule a Visit with an IBCLC

If you experience any problems with nursing during those early days and weeks, the best thing you can do is make an appointment with a board certified lactation consultant. An IBCLC can help you work through latching issues, low milk production and any other questions you might have as you get started on your breastfeeding journey. If you live in Chicago or the Chicagoland area, you can also arrange a lactation consultant home visit through your friends at Ashland Health. To find one elsewhere in the country, check out the International Lactation Consultant Associate website.

4-8 Weeks After Birth (depending on when you go back to work)

Start building your backup stash

Once your breastfeeding routine is established, it’s time to start pumping. At this stage, regular pumping can give you peace of mind so you can get out of the house to run errands or have a girls night, or even just bank a few extra hours of shuteye. It can also get you ready for pumping at work. Store your extra milk in storage bottles or designated milk storage bags. Make sure to label the bottle or bag with the date, so you can use the oldest milk first. Remember, once you go back to work, you’ll be bringing home more milk each day. Using this time to establish a solid backup stash can help you stay ahead of your needs.

Incorporating bottle feeding

Now that you’ve totally gotten the hang of nursing, it’s time to switch it up with bottle-feeding. You’ll need a bottle specially designed to mimic the way your baby breastfeeds. Start with a slow-flow nipple to encourage “baby-led” feeding.  He or she might refuse, but keep encouraging! You’ll get there. This is also an excellent time to get your partner involved in feedings too.

1-2 Weeks Before Returning to Work

Think about your pumping-at-work schedule

Pay attention to patterns in your baby’s feeding needs and think about where those times fall into your work day. Understanding your baby’s feeding schedule will help you devise a plan for when you will have to pump at work. The other benefit is that it will help get your baby on a feeding schedule—which helps with a sleep schedule as well.  This will also mitigate the stress of trying to explain the schedule to daycare or nanny.

Speak with other employees that have nursed in your workplace

Mom solidarity is real. If there are other moms at your workplace, ask them if they learned any tips or tricks specific to nursing at your job. They’ll probably be able to supply you with some words of wisdom for dealing with the more common office pumping problems.

Talk to your employer

By law, you are entitled a “reasonable” break time and a private place to pump, other than a bathroom. Know your rights as a new mom in the workplace and explain your needs to your employer. Let them know you intend to pump once you return from your maternity leave and work out a plan.

Contact Ashland about backup parts

There’s nothing worse than getting to work and realizing that you forgot one of your pump parts at home. Don’t let forgetting a tube or a storage bottle throw off your schedule. Order back ups to keep in your office or car so you’re never without supplies.

Heading back to work after your maternity leave can be tough, but with the right pump and a little help from the moms at Ashland Health, you’ll be back to ruling that conference room in no time. Contact us today to find out which breast pump will best support your workplace pumping plan.