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  • Molly Peterson

Returning to Work

Updated: Jul 29, 2023

Returning to work can feel overwhelming and stressful. However, preparing both you and your little one can make it a little easier! Here are some tips for getting through this transition.

crying baby

Before you return to work:

Starting to stash milk away a few weeks before you go to work can help you feel less stressed your first few days back. Remember, you don’t need a freezer full of milk to go back to work, but rather a few days worth of milk to ease the transition. Then, you’ll pump at work to give to your baby while you’re separated. Babies need 1-1.5oz per hour that you’ll be apart. For an 8 hour work day this is about 8-10oz.

Pumping once or twice per day after your little one eats can help give you a small amount to start saving for when you're back at work. Typical volumes when pumping after a feeding are between 0.5-1.5oz total.

It can be a good idea to introduce a bottle between 3-6 weeks of age and continue to give a bottle a day or every other day. This will ensure that your little one will be able to take a bottle and not have a preference for the breast. Remember to pace bottle feed!

Have a conversation with your employer before you start maternity leave about where you are pumping and make sure they are aware of how often you need to pump. You do have new laws to protect you if you’re getting push back from your employer. Another question to ask is will you have access to a fridge to store your milk or sink to wash your pump parts at work? If you don’t have a fridge, be sure to have a cooler bag with an ice pack. If you don’t have a sink, consider buying multiple sets of pump parts to get you through the day or using pump cleaning wipes, pump cleaning spray and steam sterilizing bags. Wash your pump parts with soap and water when you get home every day.

Make sure your pump is up to the job! In most cases, wearable pumps are not strong enough to maintain a milk supply for most parents that are working full-time. They can be useful in some cases, but having a primary pump to ensure breast drainage is key.

After you return to work:

Your breasts need to be stimulated and drained at least 7 times in a 24 hour period. A good goal to have is to pump when your baby would typically eat while you’re separated. Most parents will pump 2-4oz per session while they are at work.

Talk to your childcare provider to ensure that they are aware of current breast milk storage guidelines. Also, discuss paced bottle feeding and why it’s important. Finally, make sure you are aware of how your provider would like you to store and label your milk. Different facilities have different rules.

Remember, this transition isn’t always easy. We are here to support you every step of the way. Let us know if it would be helpful to have a pumping evaluation, returning to work consult, or bottle feeding consult!

Still need to order your breast pump? Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most insurance plans will cover the purchase of a breast pump! We have found working with a Durable Medical Equipment facility like The Breast Pump Store makes the process really simple. Visit their website and see if you qualify for a breast pump through your insurance today!

Need more help with your return to work? Book a visit with Wisco Lactation! We offer home & office visit in SE Wisconsin and NE Illinois. We also offer virtual visits worldwide.


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