Pumping Strategies for the Working Mother

Written by Wendy Wright, MBA, IBCLC Co-Owner Lactation Navigation – Workplace Lactation Consultants, LLC

The primary focus of my lactation practice is in the workplace.  Why?

  • Mothers are currently the fastest growing segment of the U.S. workforce.1
  • In the past 20 years, the percentage of new mothers in the workforce has increased by more than 80%.2
  • The current level of new mothers in the workforce is 60%.2
  • As we have all witnessed, working outside the home negatively affects initiation and duration of breastfeeding.1
  • One third of working mothers return to work within three months of the birth of their child and two thirds return within six months.1

The three questions I am most frequently asked are:

  1. How often should I pump once I return to work?
  2. How much milk will I need each day?
  3. How should I package milk and store for future use?

Below are my answers – understanding that each woman’s situation is unique and she may or may not be exclusively breastfeeding.  For the purposes of this article, all women are working full time and exclusively breastfeeding!

How often should I pump once I return to work?  Returning to work before your baby is six months old requires expressing milk approximately every three hours when separated.  For example, for an 8-hour shift you will be separated from your baby for about 10 hours (work, lunch break, commute).  Over the 10-hour period, it is recommended that you express milk three times.   Some sample schedules may look like these below.  Notice that I have added in morning (pre-work) and evening (post-work) expression sessions.  These are to assure that mother has enough milk to provide for the time separated and also designed to keep supply high and the mother comfortable.  Some mothers may find that they are able to breastfeeding their babies before they leave for work and right when they get home, making it unnecessary to pump before and after work.  It really is what works best for the mother and baby.

Once your baby is taking well to solids, you may have the opportunity to reduce the number of pumping sessions each day.  Remove the session that is the least productive for you.  Each session should empty the breast – approximately 15 minutes pumping time.

How much milk will I need each day?  Breastfed infants consume approximately one ounce (30ml) per hour when separated from their mother from age 6 weeks until age 6 months.  So, if you are separated for 10 hours Monday – Friday, I recommend providing the caregiver with 10 – 12 ounces (300-365ml) of breastmilk, although some babies may need more.  It is important to review appropriate feeding cues with caregivers so breastmilk is not offered at every cry, fuss or frustration.   Remember, this is only one third of the milk the infant will consume each day – the rest of her consumption will be directly from the breast and she will take what she needs when you are back together.  Many infants will reverse cycle feed thereby getting their primary calorie consumption in the evenings and nights.  Mothers should be aware of this and welcome it as a terrific method for maintaining supply.

How should I package milk and store for future use?  The method that seems to work best for the busy working mother is to start each week on Sunday night by removing 10 – 12 ounces (300-365ml) of frozen breastmilk from the freezer and thawing overnight in the refrigerator.  Milk can then be packaged for the care provider in small bottles (2.5 ounces for example (74ml) for consumption throughout the day on Monday.  The mother will then express milk on Monday.  Monday’s milk will be stored in the refrigerator overnight and provided for baby on Tuesday.  Tuesday’s expressed milk will again be stored overnight in the refrigerator and provided on Wednesday, etc. On Friday, milk is packaged in 1 and 2 ounce bags (30-60ml) and frozen, clearly labeled with the date.  Using this pattern, the baby will only receive frozen breastmilk once each week and the freezer supply will be efficiently rotated.  There is a tendency for less and less milk to be expressed as the stressful week progresses.  Freezing in small packages will allow mom to pull one or two ounces from her freezer on Thursday or Friday if needed without having to defrost and potentially waste 5 ounces (148ml) of frozen breastmilk.

Additional information may be found on-line:




Reassurance and support can make all the difference for these mothers.  Encourage networking with other breastfeeding mothers at work and plenty of skin to skin time together when mother and baby are home.


1. United States Breastfeeding Committee. Workplace breastfeeding support [issue paper]. Raleigh, NC: United States Breastfeeding Committee; 2002.

2. U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. Employment status of women and men in 2008. Available at: http://www.dol.gov/wb/factsheets/Qf-ESWM08_txt.htm. Accessed May 15, 2009.

3. Society for Human Resource Management. 2007 Benefits Survey Report. Available at: http://www.shrm.org. Accessed April 17, 2008.

Wendy Wright, MBA, IBCLC

Wendy spent 15 years in the biotech industry in the Bay Area and worldwide prior to breaking out on her own and founding Lactation Navigation in 2007. Wendy has a B.S. in Health Services Administration from the University of Arizona and an MBA with a Marketing emphasis from the University of Cincinnati. Wendy’s daughter is twelve and her son is five. Both kids love to swim and enjoy bicycling. She is dreadfully fearful of spiders and enjoys spicy food any time of day. Lactation Navigation allows Wendy to combine skills learned in the corporate setting over the past 15 years with her love of breastfeeding. It allows her to spend time with her children and also with new mothers. It also encourages health and happiness for other families, and brings bottom-line profits to progressive companies.


73 Responses to Pumping Strategies for the Working Mother

  1. ECBrooks 17 May 2012 at 15:16 #

    Wonderful! Supportive, evidence-based, recognizes the hurdles working mothers (esp. in teh USA) must face and the supportive and informative role an IBCLC can offer. Thank you.

    • Wendy Wright 25 May 2012 at 15:54 #

      Appreciate the feedback! As you state, IBCLC’s can be of great assistance at this difficult time for breastfeeding mothers.

      • Ellen 15 September 2017 at 13:47 #

        It may be better to give recommendations in terms of a babies needs, which are weight dependent. Setting recommendations for what is “reasonable” based on the average baby rather than weight and size based guidelines gives workplaces the ability to suggest that you are being excessive in your pump schedule when you’re actually giving your baby what he or she needs to stay hydrated.

  2. Erica 17 May 2012 at 18:49 #

    Generally a good article, and you have me on everything except this:
    “Many infants will reverse cycle feed thereby getting their primary calorie consumption in the evenings and nights. Mothers should be aware of this and welcome it as a terrific method for maintaining supply.”
    Ha! Most of us can’t be up all night nursing because we are WORKING DURING THE DAY. Thus the need for pumping.

    • Christine Staricka, IBCLC 18 May 2012 at 14:33 #

      Erica, That’s not an opinion or a suggestion. It’s true that most babies begin nursing more when mommy is home, which happens to be in the evenings and nights. The more frequent stimulation of nursing in a new pattern is probably what saves milk supply. When a mom calls to tell me she’s been back to work for 3 weeks and suddenly her pumping sessions are not as productive, the first question is always “How often is the baby waking at night to feed?” Most moms’ milk supplies cannot hold well when mom pumps during the day and then tries to pump during the night and bottlefeed. Realistically, when would she actually be nursing? The point here is that going back to work or school is NOT the end of breastfeeding (unless mom chooses for it to be.) The new pattern of their lives becomes this: when mommy is away, I get bottles, and when mommy is back we nurse whenever I want. This new pattern allows baby to still control/influence/stimulate milk supply in the way he needs to. The communication of breastfeeding is interrupted when mom has to be away for one or more feedings per day, but breastfeeding is preserved by baby’s new communication signals such as waking/nursing more frequently at night and for varying durations all the time. Many recent studies have confirmed that waking to nurse at night is less stressful and less fatiguing on mom than getting up to bottlefeed and/or pump. Anyone whose milk supply has ever been pump-dependent for any amount of time knows they would much rather wake to breastfeed than to sit with that machine in the dark and wait for it to be over.

      • Elena 21 May 2012 at 16:54 #

        What strategies might a working mother use to ensure adequate sleep at night while breastfeeding, besides cosleeping or bedside cosleeping units? I’m not a working mother anymore, but I think this would be an important subject to address. My guess is that in addition to finding time to pump at work, this is probably the biggest obstacle to continued breastfeeding by working moms. I was exclusively pumping due to circumstances with my first birth so that unfortunately didn’t last too long. I had trouble finding time to pump due to the nature of my job, and couldn’t be up all night pumping either (baby never latched), and then I got pregnant again six months later.

      • Ananda 8 April 2014 at 01:08 #

        SPOT ON! My supply decreased quickly after returning to work (with both of my children) because their desire for nursing went away with the frequent use of bottles during the day. I wished they would have wanted to nurse in the evenings and at night because it is much easier and more enjoyable to have my baby at the breast than me sitting and listening to a pump in the middle of the night. I’m due with my third in two months and I am so hopeful that I can maintain that connection with breastfeeding when I am home. Luckily my schedule is bit more relaxed/flexible where I work now with a long lunch break, and I live close to work, so I should be able to go home and breastfeed during the middle of the day. I am excited to see how it goes!

    • Jacqueline Cotton 21 May 2012 at 14:27 #

      If your baby is in bed with you, you aren’t waking more to feed. Baby latches, you sleep… no one has to fully wake up… worked well for my 5 kids and being a working mom! Was MUCH easier than getting up at night to warm a bottle when the baby was already awake and crying, then after feeding took more time to settle back to sleep. (I did choose to sometimes supplement formula with my first baby (just because I didn’t know she was getting enough) and by 6 months my period was back and my milk supply was too low to provide enough milk for her. I weaned her since I had to leave her with daddy while I finished my last semester of nursing school out of state. Worst nights of my parenting life… I decided NO MORE FORMULA BOTTLES FOR MY BABIES! And the next 4 exclusively breast fed and only got bottles of breast milk when I was away from them. Enjoy your priviledge to sit down and relax with your baby as often as you can… soon they will be crawling, walking, asking for car keys and moving away to college and life!

    • Wendy Wright 11 June 2012 at 23:04 #

      Hi Erica – you are correct, staying up more in the night can be a challenge. This is usually a temporary situation. Some moms do like it to maintain supply and have more time with their baby – if short term – works out okay.

    • Working Mama Wendy 28 November 2012 at 12:39 #

      Loved the article and focus on working moms, which is hard to find, but agree with Erica that the night feeding comment seemed a bit unrealistic. Nothing I’ve found values sleep highly enough, especially for working moms who do not have the option to nap with baby during the day.

      It may be true that night nursing is essential to maintain supply for a working mom who pumps during the day, but it doesn’t seem fair to place judgement about what is ideal in communicating that information. The author said earlier in the article that “It really is what works best for the mother and baby” and I wish that the same trust was placed in moms as they figure out how to deal with sleep and nighttime feeds.

  3. lnewmark 18 May 2012 at 00:19 #

    What a great article to have on hand for so many women! Personally, I’ve pumped for all 5 of my kids while at work (3 of them full time) and never had to wake up so early and pump then. I’ve also managed to stretch out pumpings between up to 4 hours and still have enough that my babies never needed formula, nor did they start on solids at an early age. Occasionally, I had to pump a bit more at home, but since I was blessed with a short commute, nursing right before and right after work was feasible.

    One key point not mentioned was the need for a good pump. While a hospital grade pump will be most effective, it’s overkill for most women, and very heavy and expensive. The double electric pumps on the market that are most effective seem to be the Medela Freestyle, Medela Pump in Style, or my personal favorite, the Ameda Purely Yours (all reviewed on my site; feel free to comment). Many women get lower-quality pumps because of expense and their pumping suffers. WIC offices may give pumps, but not all offices give the same ones, and sometimes women are handed ineffective ones.

    • Jacqueline Cotton 21 May 2012 at 14:31 #

      In Texas the WIC contract is for the Ameda Purely Yours. If you are not going to be away from your baby on a regular basis (work or school), you may only get a manual pump from them. If your baby needs to stay in the hospital and you are a WIC mom who is providing breast milk for your new baby, you can borrow a hospital grade pump from WIC, like ASAP. YOu don’t have to wait until a monthly appt. Talk to their peer counselors for breast feeding support.

  4. Thanks for this article that is sure to help many women! I was blessed with a short commute, so nursing right before and after work was doable. I was able to stretch out pumping to 3-4 hour increments and make enough milk to never have to supplement with formula or start solids before my baby was eating finger food.

    One key point missing is the need for an effective pump. A hospital grade is the best but overkill for most women: it’s heavy and expensive. A good double electric like the Medela Pump n Style, Medela Freestyle, or Ameda Purely Yours (all reviewed on my site http://www.a-natural-birth.com/categories/nursing-and-baby-gear/baby-supplies/breast-pumps/ ) is key to maintaining a good supply and producing enough milk. Unfortunately, many women resort to buying the cheapest pump on the market, not realizing it makes a difference, or WIC provides them with a subpar pump (it depends on the office — some give out excellent choices). A hand pump may work, but is tiring for many and leads people to give up.

    I wish the best of luck to anyone who needs to pump at work. It’s hard to keep track of the need and excuse yourself when necessary, but the benefits are priceless. I’m working part time now (switched from full time before I had my fourth), and am 6 months pumping for my EBF baby now.

    • Wendy Wright 11 June 2012 at 23:06 #

      Excellent point Leah – I should have mentioned the importance of a quality pump. Thanks for your comments.

      • Armi 13 September 2016 at 10:05 #

        Can you help me, please, with the name of some manual pumps I can use? I will work 8 hours a day but can’t aford buying an electric one. Thank you

  5. lnewmark 22 May 2012 at 02:30 #

    (sorry for the duplicate posts, I logged in after I wrote my first one, and it didn’t give me a message that the post was submitted so I tried again…anyway, I’m bookmarking this site :D)

  6. Brandi 23 May 2012 at 01:40 #

    I am currently BF an almost 7 month old that has been on solids for 3 weeks. I have noticed a decrease in my milk supply. I am fortunate enough to only have to pump one or two times while working (every 3 hours) and my schedule is close to schedule 3 above, including night feedings. I don’t pump at night though as above. Should I be doing this?

    • Wendy Wright 11 June 2012 at 23:08 #

      HI Brandi – you most likely do not need to pump at night – now that you are starting solids, your 7 month old will slowly take less milk and get more calories from foods. Nursing exclusively on the weekends can boost supply after a busy work week. Good for you – sounds like it’s going really well.

  7. christianlady 23 May 2012 at 07:00 #

    I am donating milk to a friend who is only giving what I am able to share and give. So, she uses formula most of the time. I have a goal to provide enough milk for her baby each day, but so far only can get about 8 oz to her since I am nursing my 7 week old full time (she has a 3 week old adopted child). Is it realistic or possible for me to provide much more milk for her baby?

    • Dawn 22 March 2016 at 16:04 #

      My friend had twins and nursed full time and pumped out so much extra she donated to a milk bank. I too could pump 10-12 oz each feeding. Your diet and staying very hydrated is important. No reason why you milk supply wouldn’t feed 2 babied. How blessed your friend is to have a friend like you. Good luck. Keep pumping between feedings and your supply will increase. Blessings to you both

  8. inbabyattachmode 23 May 2012 at 12:18 #

    Thanks for this post! I think it is really important to show new moms that pumping at work is very doable for most women and that there’s no need to stop breastfeeding when you’re returning to work. I recently wrote this blog post about my experience.

  9. tonia 23 May 2012 at 15:28 #

    thank you so much, I want to go back to work but did not have a clue about how to feed my baby. I was seriously considering putting him on formula.

  10. Elaine Petrowski 31 May 2012 at 01:56 #

    Great information. Thanks so much for posting I’m sharing @Tender Times Doula on Facebook.

  11. Wendy Wright 11 June 2012 at 23:09 #

    HI Elaine, thanks for sharing on Facebook – it is important that we get the word out about working and pumping.

  12. Working Mama Wendy 28 November 2012 at 12:53 #

    Thanks for putting this info out there Wendy! So much breastfeeding advice assumes that mom and baby are together during the day, yet as you explain there are more and more working mamas who need support as well.

    Do you have any articles written about pumping beyond the one year mark? My babe is 11m and still drinking 15+oz of pumped milk while i am at work. It is getting harder to keep up my supply, but i am committed to sticking with it as long as i can.

    I also want to emphasize how critical a supportive employer is to successful pumping. I’ve needed flexibility to adjust my pumping schedule to be responsive to the always changing demand/supply relationship with my growing babe.

    Thanks again for the great article!

    • AV 24 December 2012 at 10:39 #

      I haven’t found any articles but I’m still pumping at work and by baby is almost 22 months old. I figure that if I weren’t working 60+ hrs per week, he’d be on the boob on demand, and I don’t want to deprive him of that. I’m retiring the pump till the next baby once he turns two, but I will continue to nurse him when I’m around.

  13. Wendy Wright 28 November 2012 at 14:17 #

    Hi Working Mama Wendy – Good for you – 11 months and going strong! I do not have any articles written for pumping moms beyond one year – good suggestion to write one. Many women begin offering cow’s milk at one year and stop pumping at work. Baby nurses in the morning, evening, night and weekends and mom no longer needs to pump. Best of both worlds if you are interested in offering cow’s milk at one year of age. Again – great work, congratulations on your success with breastfeeding.

  14. rosa 2 December 2012 at 14:00 #

    I never breastfeed and our children are very smart and never get sick?

  15. Sarah 3 December 2012 at 09:04 #

    I’ve got 9 week old twins, and after 6 weeks of tears from not latching, we moved to pumping and combo feeding. I pump 5-6 times per day (they eat 5x per day), and regularly produce 30-35 oz, which is increasing. Any tips for the pumper who does not nurse? Each kiddo is taking 25-28 oz per day, so they get a little over half of their food from mother’s milk. And while I’d love to produce enough for both, I feel like a dairy cow as it is, and am taking enough fenugreek to put Mrs Butterworth to shame.

    • Wendy Wright 3 December 2012 at 12:24 #

      Hi Sarah – you are doing a terrific job. I’m so sorry for your six weeks of tears – you should be proud of the milk you are providing. Continue pumping and with frequent breast drainage and milk removal – your supply may continue to increase. I don’t want to place too much pressure on you BUT – more frequent milk removal is the key to greater supply. Any possibility you could pump eight times per day? Also, just want to make sure you are using a high quality double electric or hospital grade pump. Hand expression after each pumping session is also great to increasing supply – check out Dr. Jane Morton’s hand expression video on the Stanford website – women have seen tremendous output with had expression when added to their pumping routine. You are doing a great job and every ounce counts!

  16. Anna 2 January 2013 at 17:44 #

    On your sample schedules you have starting with pumping or breastfeeding, how long do you suggest pumping for before breastfeeding? I want to make sure that after I pump I can feed my child with enough of a supply.

    • Wendy Wright 30 January 2013 at 12:14 #

      HI Anna – If you can pump one hour before breastfeeding that would be great – but if your baby needs you before that time – go ahead and feed. It will empty your breasts very well and signal them to produce more milk. Baby will be fine too – he/she may not get quite as much as usual, so they will just come back for more a little sooner – overall there will be a positive result of more milk. All the best to you, -Wendy

  17. Cate 30 January 2013 at 08:36 #

    I can’t thank you enough for this! I’ve just started back to work two months after my first baby’s birth, and the experience has been stressful to say the least. Luckily, I only have to physically go to work twice a week (working at home the rest if the days), but pumping enough, providing enough milk, keeping up my supply, and ensuring a strong breastfeeding relationship with my little guy are major concerns. I have a lactation consultant but beyond my initial nursing struggles, she hasn’t supported me much in returning to work. I developed my own game plan based on what seemed logical, and found confirmation that I’m on track with your posting. This reinforcement really means a lot to me, and I’m feeling much more confident on my way to work today! Thank you!!

    • Wendy Wright 30 January 2013 at 12:12 #

      Hi Cate – So happy to hear of your success – it gets a little easier every day. I wish you all the best. -Wendy

  18. Erin 18 February 2013 at 16:57 #

    Fantastic article. Too bad pediatricians mostly aren’t aware of this and discourage “allowing” night feeds after 4 months. What a shame.

  19. Liz 27 June 2013 at 14:07 #

    Hi, thanks for the info, many places say that thawed breastmilk from the freezer must be used within the hour, if I put breastmilk from the freezer in the fridge to defrost over night on Sunday, won’t it have spoiled by the time it is needed for the late afternoon feed on Monday, say 3pm? I am not sure I can give frozen milk to my nursery to defrost as they would have to sterilise all of the bottles etc.


    • Wendy Wright 1 July 2013 at 00:28 #

      Hi Liz, You should be fine by 3pm on Monday. The milk is considered thawed once the very last ice crystals are gone, at least midnight if not further into the morning. You have 24 hours to use the thawed milk so by midnight on Monday will be your cutoff – keep it cold on Monday and all should be fine. If in doubt, you could begin the thaw on Monday morning to be available by 3pm as well – whichever is easier for you.

  20. veronica 19 August 2013 at 11:00 #

    I have a 3 week,old. I have been attempting to breastfeed since her birth but h had issues with latching. As of right now she is nursed 1 to 2 times a day and i am pumping every 3 to 4 hours day and night. I am producing 4 to 8 ounces during each session and have been using a hospital grade pump since day 3. My question is how long should i i expect to continue having an adequate milk supply if i continue with these methods? I am also drinking mothers tea twice a day thanks

    • Wendy Wright 20 August 2013 at 01:47 #

      Hello Veronica – I’m so glad you are able to achieve some latches each day, this is a great advantage toward eventual full breastfeeding and maintaining supply. As long as you continue to empty your breasts every 3 – 4 hours (baby or pump) your supply should remain strong – stick with the hospital grade pump until your baby is latching all the time. Attempt to latch whenever your baby shows signs of hunger and pace feed all bottles to decrease a flow preference for the faster bottle flow. It won’t hurt to stick with the tea as well but consistent milk removal will be your best method for maintaining supply. I suggest you see a lactation consultant in your area to work on latch and attend a breastfeeding support group to get additional ideas and information. Good work!

  21. Dena 25 August 2013 at 12:30 #

    Thank you so much for this article, it has been extremely helpful to me. I go back to work full time this week and I’m a teacher, so pumping is a little tricky for me. Since my baby is now 5.5 months and eating some solids once a day, I am wondering if pumping every four hours will be enough for him/us? He is a big guy- 21 lbs. and eats about 4 oz every 2.5 to 3 hours when bottle fed. Any tips?

    • Wendy Wright 3 September 2013 at 13:58 #

      Hello Dena – Every four hours should be enough – try it for the first week and adjust as necessary. Be sure to nurse just before work and just after to sufficiently empty your breasts for increased production. If you run an ounce or two short and the work day is almost over, your care provider may be able to provide avocado or banana until you are home. Good for you for taking such a long maternity break – best of luck as you return to school.

  22. Christa 27 October 2013 at 22:26 #

    I am a waitress and am finding it hard to pump twice in a single day. I usually can pump for about 20 minutes that one time a day and i have a short commute to work. am i producing enough still or will i slowly start decreasing in milk production?

    • Wendy Wright 4 November 2013 at 16:59 #

      Hi Christa, Many women find it difficult to pump more than once during a busy shift. Supply all depends on your breast storage capacity and age of your baby. As baby get older (5 – 9 months) they are very efficient in removing milk and you will go off to work very empty if you breastfeed as much as possible before departing for work. Also, the older your baby is, the more established your supply is so all should be fine. Make sure to exclusively breastfeed on days off and nights/mornings so your stimulate your breasts for maximum supply. If your baby is quite young (less than 4 months) ask for a short break just for a few more weeks until baby is a little older – you could even hand express during a bathroom and discard the milk to save time all the while preserving your supply. This is a short term solution – just keep the milk moving as frequently as possible and you should be okay. Best wishes to you! Wendy

  23. Elizabeth 13 November 2013 at 14:16 #

    This is a very helpful article, thank you so much! It is one of the few helpful and realistic articles out there for breastfeeding and working moms (others I have read include bringing your baby to work in a sling as one of the options for breastfeeding working moms. I only wish I could do that!). I have a 3 1/2 month old baby girl, and have been back to work since she was 6 weeks. When I first started back to work, I was pumping 3 times a day and getting about 13-15 oz a day. Now I only get 10-11 oz a day while still pumping 3 times a day. I read in one of your comments that this can happen when babies increase their night feedings? She has started eating more at night, waking up 2-3 times to eat instead of 1 time when I first went back to work. Should I be worried about my supply dwindling, or is this normal?

    • Wendy Wright 13 February 2014 at 14:35 #

      Hi Elizabeth – thanks so much for your comments on the article – it was a pleasure to write. Your situation sounds normal – when nighttime feedings increase you may get less during the work day. As long as your baby is happy and healthy, growing and thriving – that is your clue that you are on the right path. Remember too that the longer you nurse, the more nutrient dense your milk will be so fewer ounces pumped will be fine. Best wishes for continued success!

  24. Veronica 7 January 2014 at 19:52 #

    Thanks for your great reply in August. My little girl is now 5 1/2 months old. I have been pumping exclusively since day 3. and am currently pumping 6 times a day with a total of 24-26 ounces a day. I have been using all of my reserves of frozen breast milk to make it to 30 ounces a day. She is also eating rice cereal twice a day very well. I am almost through with all of the frozen milk and my production seems to be dwindling. I am happy we made it to 6 months with only breastmilk, but am now wondering what to do next. I really do not want to supplement with formula, Any suggestions?

  25. Fatima B. 6 February 2014 at 00:18 #

    I am a working mom who have not had a chance to pump nor breastfeed for the last 48 hrs because I was contemplating to stop Breastfeeding. However, I have changed my mind and want to continue. I just pumped and I am scared to feed the baby the milk cause I am told it is spoiled since it has been 48 hrs since I last expressed milk that it is best that I discard first pump. I’d like to have a professional opinion on this from the lactation consultant please.

    • Ananda 8 April 2014 at 01:20 #

      Milk cannot spoil inside your body. The milk is fine to give to your baby.

  26. Summer Martin 10 November 2014 at 15:11 #

    Hi, I have a 5 month old and have been breastfeeding exclusively, but lately I’ve had a dramatic decrease in the amount I’m able to pump. I work 2 days a week for 8 hours a day and pump twice while I’m at work and nurse her on my lunch break thanks to my mom bringing her to me. On the days I’m home she nurses every 2 hours. I really don’t want to supplement her unless absolutely needed, but I’m barely getting an ounce between both breasts when I pump. The pump has been checked and there are no problems with it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  27. Anne 11 February 2015 at 16:10 #

    I only pump at work, and I work 7p-7a three nights a week. It sure would be nice if the one bottle she sometimes gets during the day when I’m sleeping after a shift made her nap better, but that doesn’t seem to be the case!

  28. SKR 7 March 2015 at 11:07 #

    Hi, I am about to return to work in 2 weeks. My son is 9 weeks old and had trouble nursing until he was about 6-7 weeks old. Prior to this, I had to pump every 2.5 hours and bottle feed him my expressed milk. I have no extra milk stored because I have a low supply and have occasionally had to supplement with formula (which he takes well). Currently, he still takes at least 1 hour to nurse and often does not get out all the milk, so I am continuing to have to pump afterward for most feedings. This makes each entire feeding session last at least 1 1/2 hours. Because I would get absolutely no sleep at night if I nursed him, I have only been breastfeeding him during the day and pump at night before bottle feeding him. He wakes up about 2-3x at night to feed. I am concerned about how I will continue breastfeeding/pumping at all once I return to work, because the length of his feedings, especially at night. I have been ok regarding sleep while on leave, but don’t see how I could possibly get enough sleep once I return to work if things stay as they have been. I also accepted a new job over my maternity leave, and don’t see how I can arrange for multiple breaks to pump (maybe 1, but not more than that). It takes me anywhere between 20 minutes and approximately 45 minutes to pump, depending on how long it has been since I pumped or nursed last. If I pump 1x at work, I anticipate needing about an hour break, which I am not sure I can swing. Do you have any tips or advice for me? I really don’t want to strictly do formula now, but I see no other option, given the length of time he takes to nurse and the number of times he is getting up at night. Thank you!

  29. Brittney 25 November 2015 at 12:27 #

    Great article and amazing tips, but how does one do this for twins? Is it impossible?

  30. Keren Gifford 10 March 2016 at 12:11 #

    I exclusively breastfed my baby boy during my almost 12-week maternity leave. Now I’m back at work full time and my baby is in daycare at not quite 3 months old.

    I began adding 1 pumping session every morning in addition to exclusively breastfeeding at 1 month. Occasionally we offered the bottle so he’d get used to it.

    I try to pump 4 times during the workday (we’re apart for 10 hours) to keep up my extra session in addition to what baby needs. But at daycare he’s eating everything I can pump, sometimes extra.

    Should I purposely limit what I leave for him during the day so he eats more when we’re together and gets used to eating only the amount I can pump? What happened to my extra pumping session’s worth of extra volume?

    Also, when I exclusively nurse on the weekends or days off, should I still add that extra pumping session? When I do now I feel like I have no milk left for him and he gets frustrated.

    Thanks for this article and thanks for any additional comments!

    • Ann 18 May 2017 at 16:59 #

      Have you talked to your provider about how to properly feed your breastfed baby? Since the milk flow is faster, a lot of babies tend to overeat unless the provider knows to pace their feeding. For example – give 2 ounces, stop, burp, and give other 2 ounces if still hungry. In what quantities are you providing milk? I would try putting milk in smaller bottles to kind of “force” the daycare to slow her feedings.


      I found the article above helpful. I’m no expert but I am also a working mama 🙂

      I figured out how to bump and feed at the same time. My baby is 2.5 months and this has been working for us.
      I pump and feed from 6:30-7:00 Am

      Per my SIL babygirl eats around 9:00/10:00ish or so, then naps.

      I pump at 10:30 for about 15-20 min

      Then babygirl eats again around 2:00-3:00ish and I also pump around 2:15 or so.

      Then when I get home I pump and feed again. Which is around 4:00.

      My 2.5 month old consumes two 4 ounce bottles while I’m gone.

  31. Sherille 2 September 2017 at 20:46 #

    Hi Ms Wendy, i would like to know how long or the duration of pump for each breast, im worried i might develop a nipple fissure or sore if i pump long. thank you

  32. Crystal White 19 June 2019 at 15:43 #

    My supply is quickly dropping. I work 10 hour days so away from baby for a total of 11 hours but by the time we get home and he is able to eat it could be another hour after that . I have had to change my pumping schedule at work from every 2 hours( trying to keep my supply up) to pump at 9 am, 12 pm, and 3 pm but sometimes my breast don’t feel full so i wait til they are full to pump. I usually put anywhere from 2.5 -3 oz in a bag to store it in but sometimes he eats more than that and i’m afraid they are wasting my milk at daycare bc sometimes he will only drink an oz other times 2.5 or 3 oz. He is almost 3 months old . Today ive already pumped 10 oz. but at home i always pump the opposite side he is feeding from. I really don’t want my supply to dry up and suggestions as to how to keep it going?

  33. Lorie Anderson 11 April 2020 at 19:33 #

    Wonderful article. It’s too bad pediatricians aren’t aware of this and discourage “allowing” night feeds after 4 months. What a shame.I think its quite ridiculous.

  34. Annie 21 April 2020 at 03:51 #

    It sure would be nice if the one bottle she sometimes gets during the day when I’m sleeping after a shift made her nap better, but that doesn’t seem to be the case!I only pump at work, and I work 7p-7a three nights a week.

  35. Annie 21 April 2020 at 03:55 #

    I am a working mom, and Milk cannot spoil inside your body. The milk is fine to give to your baby.

  36. Annie 21 April 2020 at 03:58 #

    I am a working mom in usa,and Milk cannot spoil inside your body. The milk is fine to give to your baby.

  37. Christina 19 May 2020 at 12:56 #

    The article is very useful. I’m a new mom and I am learning a lot of things.


  1. Expressing Milk for Your Baby | a2z lactation - 14 June 2012

    […] Pumping Strategies for the Working Mother […]

  2. Let’s Celebrate: World Breastfeeding Week and Happy Birthday, Lactation Matters! | - 2 August 2012

    […] of contributors.  We have posted interviews, calls to action, highlights of current research, practical applications and pieces that highlight the important work that IBCLCs do in the […]

  3. A 100,000 Views Celebration! | - 19 September 2012

    […] most popular posts ever were “Pumping Strategies for the Working Mother” by Wendy Wright and “Why Beyonce Nursing in Public is So Significant” by Robin […]

  4. The Top Lactation Matters Blog Posts of 2012! | - 27 December 2012

    […] Pumping Strategies for the Working Mother: Our most popular post of the year (by over 6,000 page views!) was this practical one by Wendy Wright, of Lactation Navigation in San Diego. In it, she highlights why workplace lactation support is so vital as well as answers the critical questions from mothers going back to their place of employment like “How often should I pump once I return to work?” and “How much milk will I need each day?” . […]

  5. Combining Work and Breastfeeding: Successful Strategies and Tools | - 3 January 2013

    […] May 2012, I had the opportunity to contribute “Pumping Strategies for the Working Mother” to Lactation Matters. We have had tremendous interest and discussion on this topic, so let’s […]

  6. Back to Work: Pumping Strategies for the Working Mom - 19 April 2013

    […] Lactation Matters | Pumping Strategies for the Working Mother https://lactationmatters.org/2012/05/17/pumping-strategies-for-the-working-mother/ […]

  7. Life With a Newborn | a2z lactation - 23 January 2015

    […] https://lactationmatters.org/2012/05/17/pumping-strategies-for-the-working-mother/ […]

  8. 5 Tips For Leaders Who Are Nursing On The Go - Real Leaders - 22 January 2016

    […] moms need to pump as often as every three hours, and on the road, it can be hard to find a spot that’s clean and private. Missing a pumping […]

  9. Pumping Tips | Milky Mommas - 2 February 2016

    […] https://lactationmatters.org/2012/05/17/pumping-strategies-for-the-working-mother/ […]

  10. The Breast-Feeding Debacle & Rights Women Should Have – Phalanx Blog - 6 March 2016

    […] she can just pump” we have to ques­tion your level of san­ity. Accord­ing to sources like Lac­ta­tion Mat­ters a mother would have to real­is­ti­cally pump at least three times in a 10 hour […]

  11. The Breast-Feeding Debacle & Rights Mothers Should Have | Soapbox Corner - 6 March 2016

    […] she can just pump” we have to question your level of sanity. According to sources like Lactation Matters a mother would have to realistically pump at least three times in a 10 hour period. We have 24 […]

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes

Translate »
Privacy Policy