I've been WFH since my maternity leave ended due to COVID but what happens when I have to go back to the office? How do I build supply for returning to work?


It's been a strange year (and counting) for everyone. Going back to work can be stressful anyway, but we've got you! We recommend starting a pumping routine a minimum of two weeks before you head back to the office. Slow and sure, stress-free.  


Here's how to make it easier to pump and return to work!


  • First, add in 7 - 14 pumping sessions per week to begin putting away a small stash to build your confidence for your first day/week at work.

  • Babies under six months old will need one ounce per hour when you are apart. 

  • Babies over 6 months old may need a bit more or if they have taken really well to solids, one ounce per hour will work as well.  


Let's say that you will be separated from your baby for 10 hours on your first Monday back at work.  Your pumping goal for the two weeks prior to returning will be to pump 10 ounces so you are covered for Monday.


  • Sunday PM:  before your first Monday back, defrost 10 ounces and prepare several bottles.

  • Monday: pump at work when you would normally breastfeed (ideally every three hours).Monday's pumped milk will feed baby on Tuesday, Tuesday's will feed baby on Wednesday, and so on.

  • Friday: freeze the milk pumped that day, breastfeed all weekend and defrost your oldest milk on Sunday night for Monday. This schedule provides your baby with fresh milk every day except Monday.


If you have longer than two weeks to prepare a stash before returning then simply add in one pumping session per day and store that milk for your return.


Keep it stress-free. The goal is not to fill your freezer, we want fresh milk as often as possible.  You just need enough for that first full day away and perhaps a little extra for late nights or occasional skipped pumping sessions. 


Want to ask our IBCLC more questions? Head to Instagram for more conversations every week and ask away.


This article was written in partnership with our International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Wendy Wright, who loves working side by side with moms and babies to find that secret sauce! She’s also a mother of two and the Mom Experience Lead at Willow Pump.