One of the hardest transitions for a breastfeeding mom is going back to work. Not only are you leaving your much-needed maternity leave, but you also have to make a plan to continue breastfeeding. Here are some tips for creating a schedule that works for you!
Understand Your Rights
As a new mom, you have rights in the workplace!
The U.S. Department of Labor states that “federal law requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth.”
Additionally, they must provide an area that is separate from the workspace and not a bathroom for you to discretely pump without other people interrupting.
Let’s talk about what is a “reasonable” amount of time to pump for each session. Obviously, this time will vary depending on each individual person, but a good rule of thumb is to consider all of the steps you need to take during a pumping session. In this reel, I mention steps such as the time it takes to gather your supplies, get to the designated space, pump, clean up, and return to your workspace.
Make sure that you talk to your employer and that they understand how long/often you will need to pump during the day. This will ensure that you have a smooth transition back into the workplace as a breastfeeding mom!
Finding a Pumping Schedule That Works For You
It’s important to realize that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to finding a schedule. However, I wanted to share my personal breastfeeding schedule and some tips I used so you can understand how to create a schedule that works for you!
Firstly, your breastfeeding schedule will change as your baby grows! You can make the choice to continue pumping frequently to build up an extra supply or you can start to spread out and limit your sessions gradually to taper off as your baby gets older.
My Personal Schedule
When I first started to exclusively pump around 2 months postpartum, I stayed consistent and would pump every 3 hours during the day and I would include a middle-of-the-night pump. Adding in a night pump is a great way to build up a supply because your prolactin levels (a hormone that helps with milk production) are highest at night.
Then, when I went back to work 3 months postpartum, I had to change up my schedule a little bit to fit around my workday. I still tried to keep most of the times consistent, but there were a few changes. For example, I would pump in the morning before work (9 am), after lunch (1 pm), and then when I was heading home from work (4:45 pm).
If you want to see the schedule I used as I transitioned from nursing to exclusively pumping, you can check out this reel!
Breastfeeding Mom Schedule Tips
You have a few options to create a consistent schedule that works for you.
For example, I would use the time driving home from work to add in a pumping session. This is a great way for a breastfeeding mom to either get an extra session in to build up supply or it’s also a good option so you don’t have to take as much time during work.
I also kept track of my schedule and how much I was pumping using the Baby Tracker app. This helped me stay motivated and see all of my progress!
Lastly, some moms choose to pump while at work and then nurse while at home. This is a great option if you still want to continue nursing after returning to work. You can use the pumped milk to prepare bottles for the next day!
If you still need some help coming up with a pumping schedule that works for you, I would love to help! I offer pumping schedule guides for breastfeeding moms where we come up with a plan together that fits your individual needs.
Plan For Safe Milk Storage
One crucial element for pumping at work is making sure that your supplies and milk are taken care of! You need to have supplies that will last throughout your work day and have reliable bags to store your breastmilk in so all of your pumping doesn’t go to waste!
For example, you need to make sure that you have a good pump bag and cooler. I love this bag on Amazon because it both stores my pumping parts and has a space for milk!
And although you will want to thoroughly clean your pump when you get home, you will want a way to quickly clean it after each session at work. You can find wipes and cleaning kits that are made for cleaning pumps on the go!
Another great option for quick clean up of your pumping supplies during the work day is by using the fridge hack. This is when you place your pumping parts in the fridge between pumping sessions so you don’t have to clean them as often! If you are going to try out this hack, make sure that you are washing your hands before pumping, placing your pump parts in a safe location to prevent contamination, and thoroughly wash your parts when you get home from work.
If you plan to use the fridge hack at work or just want an easy way to keep your pump parts separate, using a wet/dry bag is a great solution! Sara Wells has so many cute options that work perfectly for transporting parts to and from work and in the fridge. She also has pump bags and cooler bags that provide an easy way to get everything to and from work. Use the link or code EMPOWEREDMAMA15 at checkout!
You’ll also want storage bags for your milk. I like these ones from Haakaa because they are reusable, but disposable ones are a great option as well.
You can also check out my Amazon store to find all of my pumping at work necessities!
Making Time to Bond With Your Baby
Now that you are back at work, you may be missing those sweet newborn baby snuggles… so make sure you find ways to bond with your baby when you get home!
For example, if you are exclusively pumping, you can still practice skin-to-skin while you are pumping. Reading stories, spending time with your baby, or feeding them bottles while you are home are all great ways to bond and still keep a consistent pumping schedule for your baby!
The Perfect Breastfeeding Mom Schedule
There isn’t a set schedule out there that will work for everyone… But it is totally possible to find a consistent schedule that works for you! Make sure you are open with your employer about your needs as a breastfeeding mom, set a schedule that you can easily follow each day, and bring all the necessities with you so you can properly pump and store milk. If you want some help coming up with a schedule that will fit your needs, book a call and we can chat!
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