Returning to work from maternity leave can spark many questions and can often feel overwhelming – especially if you are a breastfeeding mother. As a breastfeeding mother, being away from your child can stir up so many difficult emotions, as well as practical questions related to keeping your baby healthy and well-fed. For example, how much do you need to pump while away at work? How do you store your pumped breast milk? Which pump will be the best for your busy schedule and environment?
This convenient flow chart can guide you through your breast pump options, helping you select the pump best suited for your lifestyle. A key consideration for most women is ensuring portability. For example, one very nifty feature available with some pumps is USB cord access, which can allow you to plug your breast pump into your laptop or computer for power if an outlet isn’t available. If you travel frequently for work, this may be a characteristic that is highly valuable to you.
To ease the transition process, we suggest you practice pumping once or twice a day before returning to work. This will not only make you more comfortable with the process, but will help build your stock of milk before returning. Keep in mind that there’s no need for a fridge full of milk – really just a couple days’ worth of milk will be fine.
Another tip: make sure you are counting the number of times you breastfeed each day. Once you return to work, you should try to maintain this number of pumping sessions to also maintain your supply. And, even while pumping, try to breastfeed at the breast as much as possible when you are with your baby. This will also keep your supply up.
Lastly, consider trying to feed your baby with a bottle before you need to do so. This gives you and your baby time to practice and understand which type of bottle works well. Once your baby is a few weeks old, and breastfeeding is well established, it is safe to try a bottle and see how your baby responds. It might take a few tries, so don’t let it get stressful for you or your baby.
Try not to add extra stress or worrying during this transition. Give yourself time to adjust to your new role. Pumping away from home is a big adjustment, and it’s important to stay relaxed (easier said than done!) and remember to reward yourself. Try to picture the feelings you have when you are with your baby and if you can, establish a comfortable designated space at work or school to pump each time to ease any anxiousness.
One way to ease stress is to find a baby travel bag and take it with you each time you leave home. Purchasing a travel bag will help with organization and storing your breast milk, which can only benefit your hectic schedule. For example, the Motif Baby Bag, which includes features like an insulated bottom half cooler, durability, hands-free capability (double shoulder strap), and comfort, is a common often for moms on the go.
So, you’re bringing your pump with you to work – but what else should you bring? Below is a helpful list of items to pack in order to make your pumping journey easier.
While these tips are designed to help the transition back to your work or school, please remember every mom’s experience is different and it is important to always do what you feel is best for you and your baby.
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