Breastfeeding Moms Who Pump at Work

Updated on February 11, 2011
S.J. asks from Cherryville, MO
17 answers

If you are exclusively breastfeeding your infant and had to go back to work, how many times per day while at work do you pump? Do you ever miss a pumping session due to a meeting or otherwise? Did you feel that it affected your supply, and were you able to thereafter get your supply back? How many months were you able to keep pumping, and when did you wean? Did you wean because it just proved too difficult to pump at work, or for another reason?

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V.N.

answers from Chicago on

I pumped after feeding my son at 7:30 am, then left for work. I only pumped one time at 2:00. I then fed my son at 7:30-8 pm when I got home or on the way if I was running late. I worked two or three consecutive days with one or two days off in between. When I was home I would breast feed exclusively and pumped afterwards occasionally to get more milk.

I did not notice any decline in milk. My son weaned himself at 6 months from breast feeding. He simply refused. I tried everything including a lactation consultant. I was able to pump until 10 -11 months and then my supply declined rapidly. So I thought luckily I had stored enough milk to get him to one year. Then one day around 11 months he refused to eat or drink anything with breast milk in it. I tried for a long time and gave up throwing away a ton of milk :(

It was not easy but for me it was worth it.

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A.S.

answers from Dallas on

I pumped right before I walked out of the house in the morning (7-ish). Then I would pump twice at work (at 10:00 and 2:00) and my supply seemed to be fine. My employer was very supportive of breastfeeding mothers; however it was sometimes embarassing when I had to use the community refridgerator to store milk, but I started bringing my own cooler. It was also awkward at times when I would encounter someone on my way to and from the pumping session that wasn't aware, who asked where I was going and then immediately regretted it. :-)

I never felt that work interfered with the need to breastfeed or vice versa; however I was flexible about when I pumped so I could rearrage my session as necessary.

I weaned when my daughter was a year old simply because at that point, she was getting most of her nutrients elsewhere and didn't require as much breastmilk. It wasn't because of a problem with pumping at work.

I loved pumping at work because it was 15 minutes that I could feel close to my baby even though she wasn't there with me. Best of luck to you.

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E.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

Iam much happier pumping this time around. I had major engorgement issues and struggled with mastitis the first time. Supply has never been an issue for me, but I am very stressed when my time to pump is threatened. Things that have made a world of difference this time are: having more breast shields and bottles. I have enough for all three pumping sessions. I immediately rinse and toss the used parts in a plastic bin. Once home I wash with dish soap and hot water then I steamclean. I also have a spare steam clean bag at work just in case. I bought a hands free pump bra. once of the best purchases I have ever made. So lots of parts, bra, steam bags, and at least three sessions. For my engorgement issues I found that pumping when I first arrive at work was key because I have my biggest let down then and nursing my baby just before I leave her is not enough. Well good luck!

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L.L.

answers from Kansas City on

I went back to work at 10 weeks and pumped 3x a day for about a month, then went down to two sessions (that was my learning curve for pumping!). I pump before bed and before work at 5:30a, then at the office at 9am and 12:30p, sometimes earlier/later depending on meetings. (I nurse when at home.) I drink mother's milk tea sometimes if supply is down, but also found that hand-expressing after I pump gets a few more ounces each time - all rich hindmilk. Yes, it is a pain in the butt to wash all the accessories. I keep a small cooler with an ice pack at my desk to store the milk. I love pumping at work - it's my time to catch up on magazine reading! My son is 9 mo. now and I will continue to pump for a while. I may cut down to one daily session since he eats so many solids. I can skip the night pump if I want, without affecting my supply.

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P.M.

answers from Tampa on

I had to return to work when my infant was 6 weeks old. I'd pump as often as possible - sometimes every 2 hours. I was only able to pump a marginal amount until about 3.5 months after the birth when my pump no longer worked to express milk. I'd exclusively breastfeed while at home. Rather than supplement with formula (which she refused to take anyways and would go without eating until I picked her up) I'd take my lunch breaks at her daycare and nurse her.

I went on to breastfeed for 4 .5 years - I am a child led weaning advocate. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, you can breastfed at home and supplement with formula if keeping up with pumping gets too hard. Most Moms can only pump enough to stockpile for the first 3 months - 4 at most. So pump pump pump while at home on maternity leave and start your stockpiling now!!

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M.R.

answers from Rochester on

I went back to work at 6 weeks after my first two. I am taking 8 weeks after I have my third (due March 8th).

I pumped about twice a day at work with my first but worked 7 miles from home, nursed him before I left, and left work full so I could nurse as soon as I got home. With my second, I worked farther from home, nursed before leaving, pumped 2-3 times at work, and nursed as soon as I got home. With both I had a ridiculous supply and could pump enough in my first session for the entire next day, so the second pumping was for my own survival. If I missed a session, I mostly risked engorgement pain and possibly leaking, but I had to wear nursing pads for most of the time I breastfed. If I remember correctly, by the time both of them were between 6 and 8 months old I could manage to pump once (again, getting 10-12 ounces at least) and survive without the second time.

I pumped from the time I went back to work with my first until he was about 11 months old and was eating mostly regular food during the day, but he nursed until 11 1/2 months. I weaned because he simply could not help biting me while nursing. I pumped with my second until around 11 1/2 months and he continued to nurse until about 13 1/2 months. I weaned him because he only nursed right when I got home from work and (sometimes I still feel a tad guilty) mommy was ready to stop nursing.

I never found that working affected my supply or my ability to breastfeed my kids and can't imagine I'll have any issues with my third.

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L.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

I went back to work when our daughter was 4 months old and I pumped at work for one year. At first I pumped 3 times a day (I was working full-time), then when I went down to part-time work I pumped one time a day. I never missed a session. I weaned our daughter at 21 months; wasn't pumping at that point because I didn't need to. My employers were always supportive and considerate.

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D.M.

answers from Denver on

I went back to work at 14 weeks and pumped and BF until she was 6 mos exclusively and finally weaned completely at 9mos - her choice more than mine : (. It's tough b/c pumping isn't the same for your body, and the added stress doesn't help... however you can do it. Try to pump as often as you would feed. 2-3 times per day at work. It was tough as I had many meetings and I travelled (good times...) Take it as it comes, as your body responds. Good luck!

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J.P.

answers from Stockton on

I have been pumping at work since I came back when my baby was 6 weeks old. She is now 6 months old. In the beginning, I pumped 3 times so that I was pumping every 3 hours. But when I changed her schedule to eat every 4 hours, then I pumped only 2 times at work. There have been times when I have missed a pumping time due to an unscheduled meeting. Depending on how long it was, I sometimes just skipped that session because I was afraid I wouldn't have enough milk to feed at the next "real" feeding when I got home. Usually, I was able to plan my pumping around any scheduled meetings so that I didn't miss. My supply seems to be just fine. There was a point when I drank the mothers milk tea, and it did increase my supply. I get between 4 and 6 ounces each time I pump. When I was pumping 3 times I got between 3 and 4 ounces each time, so it is really the same amount of milk either way. To be honest, it is a pain in the butt to pump at work. I share an office with 2 men, so I go and pump in the bathroom unless they are out of the office for the day, then I can shut my door. BUT, I LOVE breastfeeding my baby. So it is worth it to me to pump even though it is a pain in the butt. I plan to do it until she is AT LEAST 9 months old., prefferably until she is 1. Hope that helps you out!

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C.T.

answers from San Francisco on

I pumped twice a day during my morning and afternoon breaks. While my husband was off on paternity leave, he would bring my son for me to nurse at lunch. After that, at 7 1/2 months, I just pumped on my two breaks. If I missed one due to a meeting I would go immediately after or before to pump. My milk supply never really fluctuated. And I stopped pumping as he started eating more solid food so around 9 months to a year. I stopped breastfeeding all together at 2 years cuz frankly, that was enough! Good luck and don't forget that they have to allow you a time and a place to pump at work!

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R.F.

answers from Dallas on

I pumped while working for a full year. My supply was never overflowing, but I think it was my body, not my work schedule. I pumped about 2-3 times a day at work and even during various business trips. If I was in a meeting, I would just pump immediately after (then again, with my supply, I wouldn't become engorged).
I was lucky to work in an environment where it was pretty obvious I was pumping and they were very supportive. Even when I was being paged over the intercom and didn't have my hands free!

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J.S.

answers from Boston on

I pumped 3x per day when immediately returning to work because my body was used to nursing on that schedule and I was very physically uncomfortable if I skipped. After my body adjusted to pumping, I dropped to 2x per day. We have a room at work and you have to sign out a key (just your phone extension, not your name) but you could see on the log how often others were using the room and it was usually 2X per day for us long-termers.

I definitely missed some pumping sessions and while it meant dipping into my freezer stash, it didn't mess with supply.

I pumped with my first until he was 9 months old (weaned at 12 months - this was the stone age so I was told to stop at 12 months and just followed along). With my second, I pumped until he was 12 months old and weaned at 17 months due to pregnancy. With my third, I pumped until a little over a year old and weaned at 27 months. My first baby was the only one who needed formula to cover the gap from when I stopped pumping to when we could switch to cow's milk. It was fine, but formula is definitely expensive and smelly so I was glad that I was able to go to 12 months with the others.

Good luck with this! It's definitely a commitment but well worth it IMO. Sometimes I wish that one of my sons was a daughter so that someday at least one of them will be able to appreciate all of that work but oh well!

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S.X.

answers from Chicago on

every 4 hrs or less. my supply def went WAY DOWN. I actually had to quit for other reasons but only lasted a few more months because of it. I'd only get a couple table spoons out each time.

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L.D.

answers from Dallas on

I pumped at work for both children and pumped until they turned one and transitioned to cow milk for day care. With my son (the oldest) I pumped @ 3 times at work and also 1-2 times at home so I could have enough milk for him - he was a big milk drinker! With my second, my daughter, I made more milk and she did not need as much, so I pumped 1-2 times a day total - normally at work.

If I missed a session here or there, it was not a big deal if I had enough milk in the freezer. I started missing them quite a bit, and wearing underwirer bras which led to clogged ducts and mastitis --- no good... If I missed a session, sometimes I would try to make it up by doing an extra one the next day.

I am very luck to have a job with the flexibility to pump when I needed to.

Also - check out the laws on breastfeeding in the workplace. I think its a law that, depending on the size of your employer, you are given a private place to pump.

Ditto lady bug on the breast sheilds and bottles - I think I only had three sets for my son, and then six with my daughter, and it was so much better not having to wash those things every night.

You are doing the best thing for your baby. Good [email protected]

A.F.

answers from Chicago on

I pumped 3 times a day at work from months 3 (when I returned to work) till month 10. Then I dropped to 2 times, gradually to 1 time around a year and quit pumping altogether around the year. He went to cow's milk at 1 year. I was able to keep it up the whole time and still had a month's worth of milk in the deep freezer when I was done. I took some Fenugreek capsules when my supply dipped because I got sick. I commute on the train at like 8am and would get home around 6pm. I nursed in the morning before taking him to daycare, I pumped soon after I arrived (930ish), lunchtime (noon or 1pm) and then around 345pm before heading for home between 430 and 5pm sometime. I would then nurse when we got home and again before bed/during the middle of the night. Once he was on solids and well established, I would nurse only right before bed and not when I got home (because that was dinner time) and still the middle of the night until he was 9 mos. I missed a pumping session here and there due to meetings/hearings but tried to be pretty consistent. I also missed a pumping session here and there due to flights/travel for work (always pumped in the restroom BEFORE takeoff in the terminal but refused to pump ON THE PLANE), I weaned altogether at 12 mos.

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Q.S.

answers from Kokomo on

I am still pumping at 14 months. I exclusively pumped (latching problems), and in the beginning, I pumped every 3-4 hours. After my milk was established, I allowed myself up to 5 hours between pumpings, giving me enough time to pump right before work, once during my lunch, and as soon as I got home. Granted, we only get 15 minute breaks at work, but most of the ladies were nice enough to not care if I took 20-30.
Once I would get home from work, I'd usually pump for about 45 minutes just to make sure I'd completely drained. It helped keep my supply up. My boss is pretty good about letting me take care of things when I need to. I did briefly work 2 jobs, and ultimately quit because of a pumping issue (the only place they had was the manager's office and that wasn't helpful for anyone involved...).
Now that my son's 14 months, he usually only takes milk in the AM and PM from his sippy cup. This means I only pump twice a day, and I'm able to keep up with him very well. We agreed that as long as I'm able to, I'll keep going.

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M.G.

answers from Chicago on

I went back to work when my twins were 8 weeks old. I pumped twice a day from December until June (summer break for teachers), so I pumped for 6 months. I weaned my twins at 15 months, but once they were 10 months old I no longer needed to pump at work. They had weaned themselves from the midday feedings. Every so often I would miss a pumping session, but that alone didn't affect my supply. The fact that I was pumping greatly reduced my supply. There is a federal law that employers must provide time and a place other than a bathroom for employees to pump.

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