How often to pump while at the office

There are oodles of women who have a baby, choose to breastfeed and go back to work feeling great that they can continue to provide breastmilk for many months to come.  It takes a little planning and work, but it’s done all the time so don’t be discouraged.

Most moms who work outside the home prefer an electric double pump because they are the most economical with your time.  If you have any questions about pumps, contact a lactation consultant to help you select one that works just right for you.  You will probably need to pump two to three times in a full workday, for about 10 to 15 minutes each time. If you are fortunate to work not far from your child’s daycare, you may be able to coordinate your lunch hour with one of the baby’s feedings.  Ask Human Resources about a flexible lunchtime schedule.

Be sure to wash your hands before pumping and make sure all pump parts and bottles are clean.  (Always keep a good supply of bags or bottles with your pump.)  Refrigerate your breastmilk as soon as possible.  If you don’t have a refrigerator handy, an insulted lunch bag with a “cold pack” in it will do. Your daycare probably has a refrigerator, so if you can stop by to feed the baby at lunchtime, the milk from the morning pumping can go into their fridge or be used for an afternoon feeding.  Freshly expressed breastmilk can be kept at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.  Breastmilk keeps in the refrigerator for 5 days and in the freezer for 3 to 6 months.  Always store the milk in the back of the fridge where it’s coolest.

It’s best if your employer has a private place where lactating mothers can pump, but not all do. Some women without a private office find themselves pumping in the ladies room or even in their car in the parking lot – not your optimal situation!  If this is you, talk to someone in HR.  Mothers of breastfed babies miss work less often because their babies are sick less often, so helping you to continue breastfeeding your baby is in an employer’s best interest.  Ask for help in setting up a private space.

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4 Responses to “How often to pump while at the office”

  1. Alison Says:

    Many states require employers to provide space for mothers to breastfeed (beyond a bathroom stall!). Moms should check their legal rights, as well.

  2. Lindsay Says:

    Absolutely! Thanks, Alison.

  3. Laura Says:

    Here are some additional things I did for pumping at work. I was fortunate that my company has a ‘mothers room’ that includes a mini fridge, comfortable chair, and phone.

    1) Schedule the Pumping times in Calendar: I blocked 30 minutes off my calendar at 10 am and 3 pm and listed them in outlook as “private”. This ensured no one else scheduled meetings during those times.

    2) Bring something to help you relax. At my office while we did have a mothers room, you couldn’t escape the fact you were in an office environment, could hear business conversations happening outside the door, and always felt a little rushed. What really helped was bringing in some music I liked. I’d get my pump set up, then put my iPod on (sometimes just played music from my laptop) and would pump. This just let me take a breath and relax. Because all nursing moms know–if you are super stressed, you won’t be able to express as much milk as usual (in my case, at least.)

    3) Pick up some of the wipes for cleaning your pumping equipment. I’d use the wipes to wipe down my pump, the table, etc.

    4) something to cover your lap. If you are wearing a suit, or business clothes, it never ceased to amaze me how I’d managed to leak or spill a little on it. So I spread a little burp cloth across my lap to prevent any mishap.

    5) Bottle of water: I’d always bring a bottle of water in with me so that when I was cleaning up from pumping, etc, I could drink a little water to replenish.

    6) bring photos of your baby! at our office people would hang up photos of their baby in the mothers room. It definitely helped bring a smile to your face and helps for pumping too 🙂

  4. Lindsay Says:

    Hi Laura – These are great suggestions that I’m sure will benefit lots of women. Thanks so much!