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Do you need a breast pump?

Most moms find having a breast pump helpful while away from baby to maintain milk supply, relieve engorgement, and increase milk supply. Many moms who return to work need to have a pump to maintain milk supply while working. If you experience breastfeeding challenges, pumps help protect and support the milk supply. Many moms find having a pump beneficial during the breastfeeding journey.

Establishing milk supply and making enough milk with hands-on pumping

For information on establishing milk supply while separated from your baby or while your baby is having difficulties breastfeeding, see information on maximizing milk production. Thank you to Jane Morton at Standford Medicine for sharing information on maximizing milk production.

Pumping Tips for Returning to Work
  • Discuss your plan for returning to work while Breastfeeding with your employer. Include your plan to pump with your supervisor and the human resource department.

  • Know your rights; laws are in place to protect you. Get familiar with the law and the employer’s policy on the expression of milk. You should be given a private area to express your breast milk and reasonable break time. Some employers suggest making a pumping schedule. See the link for information on the law.

  • Expression of milk should mimic baby feeds. For example,- most babies nurse every 2-3 hours on average. You will want to pump or express every 3 hours for 15-20 min to maintain your milk supply while away from your baby.

  • Express and store milk for the number of feedings your baby will have while you are away. You don’t need to have a freezer full of milk before returning to work. If possible, try to pump at once a day for 2-3 weeks before returning to work. You will only need enough milk for what your baby will take your first day back to work. Remember, each day you are pumping at work, you will have a milk supply saved for the next day your baby is not with you.

  • It’s a good idea to store your milk according to per feeding amounts to prevent wasting milk. For example- if your baby takes 3 ounces per feeding, store 3 ounces in each bag or bottle. This will make it convenient for your family or childcare provider.

  • Introduce your baby to feeding with the bottle before returning to work.

  • Nurse your baby just before you leave for work and soon after you get home from work. Nursing your baby often helps maintain the milk supply.

  • Consider keeping extra pump parts and electric adapters at your workplace in case something gets forgotten at home.

  • Discuss your pumping schedule with coworkers, block off times in your calendar, and set alarms on your phone.

  • Make sure to have extra bottles or storage bags for your expressed milk, time, and date for each bag or bottle to store the milk safely.

  • Keep a photo or video on your phone to have with you while pumping. The video or photo can help your milk let down and help relax you while you’re pumping. Stress can affect pumping milk. Try not to work while you pump.

  • Reach out to your local support group, friends, and coworkers for support.


The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice or care. Please contact your Lactation Consultant or Primary Care Provider for breastfeeding and pumping concerns.

The page of resources was put together by Jodie Dresel, Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.


Breastfeeding & Pumping

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