A Pumping Schedule for the Breastfeeding Working Mom
Being a breastfeeding mom is hard. Being a working breastfeeding mom can be even harder. It can be incredibly stressful worrying about going back to work. Figuring out how to build your “back-to-work” stash, trying to put together a pump schedule during work, and make it home in time for your babes next feeding.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this post we’ll be going over a few of our most asked questions from working moms and we’ve already put together a sample pumping schedule (see below) for all you breastfeeding working moms out there.
How much breastmilk do I actually need when going back to work?
This is such a good question. Often times women are mislead on how much milk they actually need. It’s hard to get tied up in all the post online with hundreds of ounces of breastmilk pumped from Suzie, or seeing Stephanie’s freezer stash packed full.
But really, you only need enough milk to cover your babies needs for the first day back to work. Maybe 2-3 days if you want to be extra safe.
So depending on your babies needs, you’ll need an estimated 10-12 oz. Not so bad right? You could probably fulfill that need with just a few pump sessions.
Now you may be thinking, what? That’s not enough. Remember, you’ll be pumping every day at work. The first day back you’ll be pumping for the second day back. And the second day back you’ll be pumping for the third day back, and etc.
You’ll be sending the nanny, or care provider with the milk you pumped the day before. So really there’s no need to panic if you’ve only got a few ounces of breastmilk stashed away. As long as you have enough for that first day, you’re okay.
How often do I need to pump when going back to work?
Again, such a good question. Going back to work before your baby is 6 months old requires pumping around every 3 hours. So for example, if you’re away from your baby for 10 hours (8 hour shift plus the commute back and forth), you should be pumping 3 times while at work.
Breastfed babies need around 1 oz per hour they’re away from mom. So if you’re gone for 10 hours, you’ll need about 10 oz (12 oz to be safe) each day for your baby.
If you’re taking a pump break 3 times a day and need 10 oz total for tomorrow feedings, you’ll need to pump around 3.5 oz per pump break.
Remember, this is just a sample to help you get an idea. No one knows your baby better than you do. If your baby need more than that, be sure to pump more. (See sample schedule below)
How do I store my pumped breast milk while at work?
For a busy working mother, you don’t have a ton of time. So we’re going to try and break this down as easy as possible for you.
Make sure you have a good sized tote that will fit your breast pump, small travel sized cooler with an ice pack, milk storage bags/bottles and any cleaning tools you’ll need because you’ll need to wash your pump supplies after each pump session.
After each pump session, make sure to transfer your expressed milk into a small bottle with an airtight lid. You can pour the milk from both breasts into a single bottle together. Then put them in your small cooler and put everything back in your tote (after you’ve washed it).
Once you get home, transfer the three bottles from your cooler to the refrigerator. Then make sure to clean and dry any parts needed and put your ice pack back in the freezer so it’s ready for tomorrow.
Send your baby with the three bottles you pumped yesterday at work and be sure to grab three new bottles to keep todays expressed milk in. Voila! Easy peasy.
Bonus Tip: If you have a freezer stash you’d like to rotate through in order to use older breast milk before it goes bad, swap one of the three bottle you pumped with a freezer stash bag. Just pour one of the bottles into a storage bag, date it and throw it in the freezer. Grab the oldest breast milk bag you have in your freezer and place it in the fridge overnight. Tomorrow transfer it to a bottle and send with your baby.