7 Tips For Going Back to Work While Breastfeeding

Your maternity leave is coming to an end. You’re mentally preparing yourself for the transition back to work when suddenly it hits you… "OMG, I’m going to have to pump at the office."

Until now it’s just been you and your baby; enjoying those sweet bonding moments that breastfeeding brings. But with team meetings, client briefings, and conference calls on the horizon, it might feel like those days are over.

nanobebe bottle attached to breast pump

Many breastfeeding working moms think they have to throw in the towel when it’s time to head back to the office. Not so!

With a little planning and commitment, the right equipment, and our 7 helpful breastfeeding tips, you’ll be prepared to tackle the logistics of continued nursing.

Your baby can have the health and nutritional advantages of breast milk, even when you’re not there. What’s more, pumping can be a beautiful way to feel connected to your baby during the workday.

That being said, you probably have questions. Which is why we spoke to a group of breastfeeding working moms to get some answers.

Here are their 7 best tips to help make the transition back to work easier for nursing moms:

1. Be Prepared

When we asked other breastfeeding working moms what advice they’d give a new mom returning to the office, the one thing we heard over and over again is to plan and prepare for your transition in advance!

Leaving your baby to return to work can be tough. You’re going to be dealing with a lot of different emotions. Anything you can do beforehand to prepare logistically will be a big help.

Preparations can start as early as a month before you go back to work. Here’s a basic prep list and timeline for breastfeeding working moms:

  • 1 month before: Make childcare arrangements.

Start sorting out your childcare arrangements for when you’re at work at least a month before going back. Finding the right caregiver and a schedule that works for everyone can take a while. Avoid the stress of rushing an important decision and start early!
Depending on your child's needs and the availability of childcare in your area, you may want to start looking into this even farther in advance. Talk to other parents in your area who use childcare to find out who they recommend and how far in advance you should schedule.

  • 3 weeks before: Start building your milk supply.

It can take some time to produce extra milk, so start incorporating extra pumping sessions 3 weeks out and don’t get discouraged if the first few aren’t successful. Your body just needs a little time to adapt to the new flow. You’ll get there.

  • 2 weeks before: Talk to your employer.

It’s helpful to inform your boss and/or HR about your plans to pump at work ahead of time. Hopefully your company already has provisions and equipment in place to accommodate nursing moms.
Be aware of your rights! If your company has more than 50 employees, the U.S. Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), requires employers to provide moms of babies younger than 12 months a reasonable break time for pumping and a private place to pump, other than a bathroom. For more details, check out this federal government fact sheet.

  • 1 week before: Do a test run.

Do a complete test run to make sure your morning routine will work for you.
If you've arranged for off-site childcare, as opposed to in-home, try out your route to make sure your timing is accurate, and see what traffic is like. Dropping off a baby and all their gear takes longer than you might think, so it helps to get a feel for it!
If your baby's caregiver is coming to your home, meet with them ahead of time to go over everything and make sure they fully understand what is needed and expected of them, so that there's nothing you need to review with them before going to work.
It may sound like a lot to do, but the alternative is to feel delayed, rushed, and stressed on your first day back, which you don't want. Also, be sure your baby is comfortable with their new childcare arrangement. A few short practice runs for them could help acclimate them to this new routine.

2. Get Baby Used To A Bottle

Most lactation experts suggest waiting until your baby is at least a month old and breastfeeding is well established before you introduce a bottle.

For breastfeeding working moms, the general consensus is to start bottle-feeding at least 2 weeks prior to your return to work date. This allows baby adequate time to get used to the new feeding method. Try using a Nanobébé Breastmilk Bottle, which provides a smooth transition between breast and bottle.

This bottle’s natural, breast-like design makes it easier for breastfeeding working moms to combine breast and bottle-feeding. Which is a fancy way of saying the bottle looks like a boob, so your baby instinctively knows what to do since the shape is familiar and appealing.

It is helpful to let someone else feed baby his or her first bottle. If you try and do it yourself, your baby might wonder why they're not getting your breast - it’s less confusing for your baby if someone else introduces the bottle.

This is also a great way to get your partner involved with feedings! In fact, the Nanobébé Breastmilk Bottle was actually invented by a dad who was trying to warm up refrigerated breast milk in the middle of the night and was frustrated by how long it took!

Dad can easily jump in to feed baby, giving mom a much-needed break. And when you’re going back to work, you’re going to need that extra time to do things like shower, get ready, pack a lunch, etc. without having a hungry baby attached to your breast. Nanobébé is the first bottle designed to protect nutrients during the storing and rewarming process, as it cools rapidly to prevent bacterial growth and warms quickly and evenly to prevent nutrient damage caused by high temperatures.

"The way the Nanobébé system works to protect the nutrients in breast milk is truly unique. Once breastfeeding is well established, families now have an easy and efficient way to continue providing breast milk at times when baby and mom are not together."
– Paula Sulkis, IBCLC, RLC, Lactation Consultant

To make things even easier for dad (or any caregiver) you can pick up a Nanobébé Warming Bowl, which is the fastest way to warm bottles and breast milk storage bags to the optimal temperature. This helps avoid late-night frustrations, so you can get your little one fed and back to bed in no time.

3. Plan Pumping Sessions

It’s recommended that new moms pump every two-and-a-half to three hours, or three times in a typical eight-hour workday (about one-and-a-half ounces of breast milk for every hour at work). As your baby gets older, you’ll need to pump less often.

Figure out where you’ll be pumping. Hopefully your company has a private room set aside for nursing moms. If yours doesn’t, you may need to get a little bit creative.

Try using an unoccupied private office area, or booking a small conference room for a half hour. Bring your pumping supplies, a photo of your baby (it helps with let down), close the blinds and do your thing.

Make sure your co-workers are aware of what you’re up to so you don’t have any unwanted interruptions. Lock the door if possible, or put a sign on the door to prevent someone from barging in.

Keep in mind there are certain work activities that are more conducive to pumping, like reading documents or responding to email. So you might want to plan on tackling those solo tasks during pump time.

Find out if there are any other nursing moms in your office. These ladies can help you navigate the transition and provide invaluable breastfeeding tips.

You can even coordinate with other pumping moms by starting an email group to keep each other posted about when the nursing room is occupied or available. We moms gotta stick together!

mom breast pumping into nanobébé bottle

4. Get The Right Equipment

First off, find out if your office has refrigerator or freezer space available where you can store your breast milk. The good news is, if you’re using a Nanobébé Breastmilk Bottle, it allows breast milk to spread into a thin layer that cools quickly, so it will reach its ideal temperature faster and prevent bacterial growth. This helps preserve the nutrients in your breast milk.

The other cool thing about Nanobébé bottles is that they stack easily, which saves fridge space and helps track pumping order. And each bottle comes with a storage cap.

If your office doesn’t have fridge space designated for breast milk, you may need to use a cooler with ice packs. Be sure you have enough ice packs to last the whole day, including commuting time.

You’re also going to need a high quality electric breast pump, chargers and batteries for said pump (in case a plug is not available). If you’re using a Nanobébé bottle, it comes with a breast-pump adaptor so that you can express milk directly into the bottle and then store it in the fridge or freezer, which is super convenient.

You may also want to try using breast milk storage bags that are designed to prevent spillage and spoilage. These are easy to keep in the freezer, and the flat shape both cools and thaws quickly to prevent bacterial growth.

Another thing many nursing moms recommend throwing in your supply bag is a bottle of hand sanitizer and some wipes.

You never know how clean your environment is going to be. A good wipe down may be in order.

5. Stick To A Schedule

You know you need to pump every three hours to maintain your milk supply. Before you start each workday, schedule in pumping times that fit your daily agenda.

Look at your to-do list and your meetings for the day and work around them. Block out time on your work calendar so that no one will schedule a meeting when you need to pump. Defend the time that you need and try to help your coworkers and manager understand that it is not something you can just reschedule.

6. Dress To Pump

The right outfit can help set you up for pumping success. Look for tops and dresses that allow you pumping access without having to take the entire garment off. Nobody wants to be half naked at work!

Crossover or overlapping v-neck tops, button downs, loose flowy tops, camisoles with another shirt on top, or nursing dresses are all good options.

The other thing you want to remember are nursing pads, because let downs can happen anywhere! Nanobébé Nursing Pads prevent leaks and have adhesive strips to hold them securely in place. They’re also designed to conform to the shape of your breast, which means your co-workers will never know you’re wearing them.

7. Cut Yourself Some Slack

The first few months back at work after maternity leave can be stressful. So cut yourself a little slack and be sure to take care of yourself!

Eat a good lunch, drink lots of water, and bring plenty of snacks to keep you going. Breastfeeding moms have different nutritional needs, and a bigger appetite to go along with them.

It’s really easy to get caught up in a mom guilt cycle trying to achieve the elusive work-life balance. Don’t expect perfection, because the ideal “perfect mom” is only a myth.

Stress can make it harder for your body to have let down, so take a deep breath and relax. Take it one day at a time and don’t push yourself too hard. Especially in those first few weeks after maternity leave.

Getting into the swing of being a breastfeeding working mom may take a little trial and error at first. But follow these breastfeeding tips, and you’ll be pumping like a pro in no time.

Plus one of the best things about continuing to breastfeed is coming home to a baby who wants to nurse. You get to cuddle up right away, re-establish your connection, and nurture your baby in a way no one else can.

Looking for more helpful tips? Read "The Top 5 Pregnancy Self-Care Tips from Experienced Moms"!

*Nanobébé is thrilled to welcome guest bloggers. The views and opinions represented in these blog posts belong solely to the guest blogger and are not the legal responsibility of the company. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by the guest blogger and will not be held liable for any errors or omissions of information nor for the availability of this information.



About the Author

Beenke - Guest Blogger

Beenke logoBeenke is the ultimate shortcut for moms! Their mission is to help moms work less and enjoy more by providing positive parenting tips and hacks to solve everyday problems. Beenke offers helpful advice to parents on a wide range of topics; such as pregnancy, parenting, and childhood development, along with product recommendations to simplify family life.


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