February 18, 2018

Returning to Work Tips for Pumping Moms

Tips to keep your breastmilk supply up when returning to work and how I wean my baby once I stop nursing

Tips for pumping and weaning

Returning to work as a nursing or pumping mom can be just a little bit stressful. Just a little bit. I walked out of the house every morning looking like a bag lady. I had my work bag, lunch bag, kids’ school bags and my breast pump bag. Then I’d arrive at work and realize I forgot my ice pack and the caps for my bottle of milk. This post goes more into the details of how I keep my supply up when working, how I schedule my pumps to replace daytime feedings and how I eventually wean my babies when I decide to transition to more solids and breast milk.

Do the (easy) math

If you feed your baby three times at home, how many times should you pump at work? It’s simple! They should equal one another. Every time you pump, it equals one feed. So if you feed your baby three times at home, you need to pump three times during the day. When I went back to work after my first son, I was only given enough time to pump twice during the day (which was really annoying, but that’s a story for another day). Since I could only pump twice at work, I pumped once at 10 or 11 p.m. to get that third bottle.

If you’re in the same boat as me, you might find it helpful to pump in the car on the way to work, or on your way home. Just get a battery adapter for your car. You can also do a session right after your morning feed or at the end of the night right before you go to bed as alternatives.

How do I keep my supply up?

Okay, mamas. I know this is so hard. Stress, schedule changes, not enough water, not enough nutritious food can all affect your milk supply. So what should you do? Drink plenty of water and eat foods that can help your milk supply like oatmeal and almonds. Boobie bars and lactation treats can also be helpful.

In addition, try turning your phone off when you’re pumping. Sometimes stress and staying connected can have negative impacts you aren’t even conscious of. Turn your phone off, take a couple of deep breaths and simply breathe!

Weaning your baby

I introduce solids (mushy foods) around six months. I slowly increase solid foods so by the one-year mark my baby is on mostly solids and getting 1-3 servings of breast milk a day, until I poop out and decide to stop nursing altogether!

After a year of exclusive nursing, breastfeeding and pumping, I was ready to cut out the daytime feeds. I did this by cutting out one pump a week. So before when I was pumping three times a day at work, I went down to two, and knocked one out every week. I was prone to clogged ducts so this helped to make sure I didn’t get too backed up. Some women can cut out pumping and nursing within one week. I did it much more gradually, but you can do it that way. For me personally, I cut out all of my pumps one pump at a time and went down to nursing in the morning and at night.

There you have it! My tips for going back to work and pumping and weaning your baby. Pumping is HARD so I give major props to all you mamas out there who are doing it. It’s exhausting, but it’s temporary so hang in there.

And remember, if you feel like you need a little extra help, more information, or advice from one of our therapists, we’re always here for you!


Sara Reardon PT, DPT, WCS is the owner of NOLA Pelvic Health and founder of The Vagina Whisperer, a resource for online pelvic health education and therapy to help women worldwide with pelvic health conditions. She is a board certified women’s health physical therapist with a special interest in treating pelvic pain and pregnancy and postpartum conditions. She is a mom, wife, Saints fan and wanna be yogi.

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