The Ultimate Guide to Pumping at Work

The thought of returning to work as a new mom is completely daunting. It’s taken months to feel like you can MAYBE survive motherhood and then you have to begin planning a new routine. This new routine doesn’t allow for you to make the rules and you’ll need to begin to worry about a lot more than just the health and happiness of your new baby.

But take a deep breath! You can do it! Just like anything else, preparation is key.

So check out the below tips for working mamas:

1. Practice using your pump

This might sound silly, but if you’ve been at home with your little one for the last couple of months, you may not have needed to pump much. Assembling the parts, cleaning them, finding the right suction settings; all of those details will be a PAIN to work through on your first day as a working mom. So get ahead of it!

2. Buy an extra set of pump parts

I can only speak for those parts compatible with the Spectra 2 pump (which I highly recommend) but these generic extra parts are a must! You’ll want an extra set of tubing, flanges, backflow protector and power cord!

3. You NEED a pumping bra

I personally like this Medela Hands-Free Bustier but I’m sure others work great too. If you want to be able to multitask you have to have one of these. Not only is this essential for multitasking at work but also at home! I get ready in the morning while pumping – I brush my teeth, wash my face, wash my hair/ blow dry and do my makeup; all while being “mommy cow”! The more you can do while pumping the more “free time” you’ll have to get other things done before work.

(FYI- this is half the price it was when I bought it! Amazon price changes…#SMH)

4. Plan your milk storage

After pumping at work a few times you’ll get the hang of how much milk you’re pumping vs. how much your baby will need. I have an oversupply, so I know that at my last session at work I should pump directly into my storage bags (they make cheap, awesome attachments for that).

That way I have less to clean and can drop my milk directly into the freezer when I get home. Otherwise I use these cheap, generic containers to pump into. There’s 2 sizes – I used the larger ones in the morning because I produce way more in my early session than any other time of the day (which is really common) and the 4oz containers work for my other sessions!

5. Find a pump bag

I researched the shit out of my pump bag options before returning to work! Looking back, I made the whole process way too complicated. I ended up buying the Zohzo Lauren Breast Pump Bag for only $35 and I really like it! You will need something that has room for your pump (sizes vary so triple check the fit), a compartment for your laptop, enough room for a milk cooler, and a little extra room for things like your pump bra, hand sanitizer, milk pads or maybe even a clutch/wallet.

6. Prepare for the cold!

You will be miserable without a blanket, sweater, or snuggie! This might seem dumb but it’s a must. Office spaces are always cold and sitting in a room with your shirt off is frigid! It might be super lame but the best option I’ve found is a snuggie – no one will see you any ways…

7. Always use milk pads

Maybe you aren’t normally a “leaker”…maybe it won’t be very long in between pumping sessions…We all have good intentions but there’s nothing worse than going to pump and realizing that your bra is soaked or even worse, if you leak through your shirt! Just always wear pads!

8. Bring a change of clothes

So in case you don’t listen to my advice on number 7, always have an extra shirt with you. Not only will it come in handy if you leak through your shirt but also if you spill milk when disconnecting your pump or moving around while pumping.

9. Buy a quality nursing bra

There are a million nursing bra options and honestly, most of them suck. Do your own research to decide what’s best for you. I really only like one that I’ve tried, it’s made by Soma. Not only do I like the bra but you can also exchange within 60 days for a new size if your body changes (which it will, a lot).

As you do your own research, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Can you fold the cups down without pulling on the seams where they attach? (If the bra isn’t made well it will start to rip from the middle)

  2. If you’re using underwire do a test run to make sure you don’t get clogged ducts

  3. Check that underwire fits 100% properly and isn’t digging in

  4. Are the cups easy to clip and unclip?

  5. Is the padding thick enough that you can’t see a milk pad underneath?

10. Strategically plan your pumping schedule

  1. How long will you be away from your child? 9 hours

  2. How much does your little one eat? 8 oz every 3 hours

  3. How much do you pump per session? My morning session is 15oz average but most sessions are 8 oz average

  4. How long can you realistically go between pump sessions without leaking or getting uncomfortable? 4 hours

  5. What time will your little one be hungry again after you’re home from work? 6pm

Step 1: What is the total your baby will eat while you’re away divided by your average pump output per session (25/8 = 3.1 -in this case since I know I pump more in the morning I’ll call this 3)

Step 2: Work backwards from the time you’ll arrive home in the interval that you said you’d be comfortable with going between sessions (6pm, 2pm, 10am). Double check to make sure that you have at least the number of sessions noted in step 1 (3)

There’s a lot to prepare for but you’re going to kill it, Mama!