Children's Health and Wellness

Getting Ready

Breastfeeding preparedness before returning to work

About 2 weeks before you return to work, start pumping or expressing milk for storage to use once you return to work. Initially, pump once a day. Early pumping sessions help your body learn to "let-down" to a pump, allowing you to store milk that the care provider can feed to your baby. Many mothers find the best time to pump is in the morning when milk production tends to be greater.

Pump approximately 1 hour after you have breastfed the baby. Slowly increase to 2 to 4 pumping sessions per day but, again, feed the baby first. Do not be surprised if your baby wants to breastfeed more frequently for a few days whenever you add a pumping session.

You can use the double collection kit to pump both breasts at once; however, some mothers initially pump 1 breast as her baby breastfeeds at the other. This method has the benefits of double pumping, and it may interfere less with baby's breastfeeding routine. A mother's body sometimes learns to "let down" in response to the pump more easily. If you try this, alternate the breast being pumped as you increase the number of pumping sessions. You still may want to include a few pumping sessions using the double collection kit before you return to work.

Illustration demonstrating the use of a breast pump
Click Image to Enlarge

Online Source: Returning to Work, American Academy of Pediatricshttp://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/Returning-to-Work.aspx
Online Source: Going Back to Work, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Healthhttp://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/going-back-to-work/#during
Online Editor: Geller, Arlene
Online Medical Reviewer: Grantham, Paula, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 1/5/2014
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