Best Tips for a Working Mom Breastfeeding Schedule
Returning to work as a working mom while breastfeeding can be very stressful. You may be worried about leaving your baby, not producing enough milk, how to pump while away, how much milk to pump…and the list goes on. I hope you find this post useful if you have to make that transition back to work as a breastfeeding mama. I’ve also included a working mom breastfeeding schedule as guidance.
Know Your Rights When Returning to Work as a Breastfeeding Mama
▹ It’s important to know your rights as a working mother if you live in the United States or anywhere in the world.
▹ “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” (applicable to companies with more than 50 employees)
▹ In the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, your employer is required to provide a reasonable break time to express breast milk for your baby for 1 year after your baby’s birth and each time during the day that you need to express.
▹ The break space is also required to be a private space other than the bathroom and that is shielded from view and free from the intrusion of coworkers and the public.
▹ If you live outside the U.S., or you aren’t covered under federal law, research your states’ rights, ask your Human Resources department, research the laws local to you, or ask other mom friends that may have experience pumping at work.
▹ Talk to your employer before returning to work to share your intentions on pumping at work, and a flexible work arrangement to accommodate going home at lunch or working remote half the day, etc. Hopefully, you can come up with a compromise that works for everyone.
▹ It’s equally important to find a caretaker or daycare that supports breastfeeding to ensure they’re giving your baby the amount of milk they need for their age.
Self-Care when Returning to Work as a Breastfeeding Mama
• Eat well and stay hydrated to fuel your body. Breastfeeding mamas need somewhere between 250-500 extra calories per day depending on how often you’re pumping or breastfeeding. You can learn more in my Breastfeeding Nutrition 101 Mini-Course here.
• Buy something for yourself, a new outfit, your favorite set of colored pens, whatever it is that excites you that you can bring to work with you.
• Get some extra rest on the weekends, and try to go to bed early during the weeknights.
• Keep a positive mindset by doing something for yourself. This will give you something to look forward to when the days or weeks seem long. It’s okay to cry, let it out, it’ll help you process your emotions.
• Have grace and patience on yourself, it can cause you to feel stressed and uneasy about leaving your little one.
Set small goals for yourself, like okay, I’m going to make it through today, then the next week, and the following month. If it’s not working for you though, be honest with yourself about that too. Some mamas prefer to stay at home if their families can afford it.
Returning to Work
Make sure all your pump parts are ready to go and all your bags are packed the night before if possible. Get a few extra sets of pump parts if you can afford to, so you only have to wash them once a day. It’s okay to rinse them and stick them in the fridge in between pumping sessions as long as you take care of your pump and the parts.
Carve out time in your workday to pump. Put it on your calendar, do whatever you have to do to make sure you don’t forgo your pumping sessions, it will be critical for your milk supply. You can even ask your caretaker to text you when your baby is taking a bottle, so you can pump at that time.
Essentials to Buy
Working Mom Breastfeeding Schedule
If you are working an 8-5 job and your commute is no more than a 30-minutes, a schedule may look like the following:
5:30 am – Breastfeed baby like normal
7:00 am – Quick feed and leave for work
9:00 am – Pump at work
12:00 pm – Pump/breastfeed
3:00 pm – Pump
5:30 pm – Home and breastfeed
8:00 – Bedtime feeding
If your commute is longer than thirty minutes, you may consider pumping in the car going to/from work also.
Essentially you want to pump for every time your baby eats. And paced feeding is important to ensure baby isn’t being overfed while you’re away. You want to leave about 1-1.5 ounces of milk for every hour you’re away. If you’re working an 8-hour day, that will be about 8-12 ounces of milk. If your baby is between 1-6 months, they will usually drink about 3-4 ounces per feeding session, maybe a little more or a little less depending on the baby.
When Should You Introduce a Bottle?
If you choose to breastfeed at the breast until you return to work, that is totally normal and a wonderful choice for you and your baby. If your baby is transferring milk well, and gaining weight well, there’s no reason you have to use a breast pump until it’s time to pump for returning to work.
Introduce your baby to the bottle about 2-3 weeks before you return to work. You can start to pump and store milk at this time too, just in case your supply dips initially due to stress or reduced nursing sessions. Do a couple of trial runs, have your partner give your baby the bottle. Leave the house to get a manicure, go to the grocery store, or whatever it is you need to do. During this time, have your partner give your baby a bottle.
Finding a bottle can be troublesome for some babies. Look for a bottle that is not too wide at the base so your baby is able to put their lips around the bottle to mimic being at the breast. If your baby won’t take a bottle, encourage cup feeding, spoon-feeding, or syringe feeding with guidance.
What are Realistic Pumping Expectations?
A baby is much more efficient at removing milk than a breast pump, so have grace and patience as your body “learns” to respond to the pump. Make sure the flanges are the correct size as that can also impact milk output.
It will take some time for your body to get used to a pump as you adapt to your working mom breastfeeding schedule. This is normal, but consider these tips to help you relax:
• Make a comfortable space at work in your pumping area
• Look at pictures of your baby
• Watch videos of your baby or your favorite television show
• Put socks over your bottles
• Listen to music
• Read a book
• Practice meditation, or listen to a deep breathing exercise like this one- Breastfeeding Meditation for Milk Supply
Try to nurse more at night and on the weekends to help increase milk supply, since it is all about supply and demand. This will tell your body to keep producing milk, and your baby will be able to remove milk more efficiently and remove the most milk possible.
Tips for Figuring Out a Working Mom Breastfeeding Schedule
- Keep it as simple as possible.
- Do a trial run to ease some of the anxiety leading up to the big first day back to work.
- Trust your relationship with your baby. If your baby wants to nurse more at night, let baby nurse, it may just be for comfort or it may be more intuitive…maybe the baby is building up your supply more.
- Have grace and patience with you and baby during this time.
- It will get easier as you develop a routine for your family.
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