How to Store Breast Milk at Work

Tips for storing your breastmilk safely.


What if I can’t juggle both working and pumping?


What if my supply drops when I start pumping?


What if I forget my breast pump at home?


Does the idea of pumping at work have you freaked out? We get it. There are so many what-ifs. But, with a bit of prep work, some tips and tricks, and a deep breath, you can do this. In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about storing breast milk at work, plus some pumping tips.


Preparing to Pump at Work


Before you pump that first ounce of liquid gold, there’s a bit of prep work you should do for your best pumping experience. That means gathering your supplies and getting comfortable with the idea of pumping at work.


What You Need to Have to Pump at Work

The most important piece of your pump kit is, you guessed it, your pump. There are so many options out there from wearable breast pumps to double electric pumps. If you’re pumping at home and work, it might make sense to have two pumps to make it easier. First things first...invest in a high-quality pump that:


  • Gets the job done quickly: No one wants to spend hours attached to their pump. You’ll want to choose a pump that expresses a good amount of milk fast. An electric pump that expresses milk from both breasts is perfect.

  • Is easy to travel with: Portability matters. Babies, briefcases and breast pumps get heavy. Choose a pump that’s compact and easy to carry.

  • Fits your comfort level: Are you good with using a large pump? Would you feel more comfortable with something small and discreet? Does the idea of using a loud pump stress you out? Find a pump that fits your comfort level.

You’ll also need cleaning equipment and storage bags or containers to store your breast milk. Use a large tote bag so you can easily grab it and go. This makes traveling with your breast pump so much easier.


Getting Comfortable

Deciding to pump on the job is a huge step and you’re a rockstar for taking it on. Know that we’re rooting for you! After all, you’re doing a tough and all-important thing. Don’t let anyone tell you anything different.


To increase your comfort level, ask your boss for a private room or area to pump. And, if you feel the need, bring a breastfeeding cover with you to sling over your shoulder as you pump.


Wearable breast pumps like Willow are the perfect option when you’re looking for a quiet and discreet pump. Wearing your pump may make you feel more comfortable around others.


Reach Out for Support

Are there other moms that pump where you work? If so, lean on them - a support system is everything. When you have questions or need help...just ask. Breastfeeding can feel lonely at times, especially in those moments when the office is carrying on in the meeting room right next door. Take all the support and good vibes you can get.


Storing Breast Milk at Work


Pumping your breast milk is only the first step. You have to bring that milk back home so your sweet babe can enjoy it. That means you’ll need to safely store your breast milk until it’s time to clock out.


Storing Breast Milk at Work in the Fridge

Some mamas choose to store their breast milk in a fridge inside the break room or kitchen. You can store the milk inside a milk bag or bottle, whichever works best for you. Just be sure to label the bag or bottle with the date so you know exactly when it was pumped.


The CDC says you can keep your freshly pumped milk in the fridge for up to 4 days. So, either use it when you get home or place it in your freezer to make it last longer.


Storing Breast Milk at Work in the Freezer

Want to save your milk for a later time? Store your breast milk in the freezer! You’ll want to skip the bottles or containers for this part unless they’re specifically freezer safe. Instead, opt for a milk bag that gives the milk room to expand as it freezes. No one wants an explosion of hard-earned breast milk in the freezer (especially at work).


The CDC says that frozen milk can last for 6 months to a year. Of course, once thawed, they recommend using it within 1-2 hours or storing it in your fridge for no longer than 24 hours. And never refreeze once it’s thawed.


Want to learn more? Check out our article on storing breast milk in the freezer.


How Long Can You Leave Breast Milk Unrefrigerated?

Pumping right before you leave for the day? Fresh breast milk can stay unrefrigerated for up to 4 hours, as long as it’s kept at room temperature (no hotter than 77℉).


Tip: Worried about spills or concerned that your co-worker will mistake your milk for something else? Store your milk in an insulated milk bag with a cold pack and place it in your fridge or freezer later.


How To Clean Your Breast Pump at Work


The CDC recommends that you clean your breast pump and its parts after every pumping session. This helps prevent harmful bacteria from growing inside your pump. 


To clean your Willow pump, you’ll want to avoid putting the parts inside the break room sink and instead find a large bowl. Next:


  1. Fill the bowl with hot water and liquid soap.

  2. Add in your pump parts and scrub-a-dub with a brush.

  3. Rinse the parts under running water and place them on a paper towel to air dry.


If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher at work, that works well, too (as long as the parts are dishwasher-safe, of course!). You could also wash the parts once you get home, as long as you have extra parts to use for each pumping session.


Tips for Moms Who Are Pumping at Work


You’re already crushing it at work. You can crush this breastfeeding thing, too. Here are some tips to help you through it all:


  • Relax: Milk flow isn’t easy to accomplish when you’re stressed out. Once you settle into your work pumping station, try to relax. listen to music, close your eyes for a bit and take a few deep breaths. This will make it easier to achieve a nice flow.

  • Fuel your body: You’ll want to make sure you’re drinking enough water and fueling your body with healthy snacks. Stock your desk with granola bars and the breakroom fridge with fresh fruit. And be sure to never skip breakfast and a healthy, relaxing lunch.

  • Stick to your pumping routine: If you were able to establish a pumping routine while on leave, stick to that routine while at work, if at all possible. This will help you maintain your milk supply.

  • Find a comfortable place to pump: Listen, you don’t have to pump in a bathroom stall. Employers are required to supply a comfortable and private place for you to pump. If you have an office of your own, this is a great place for your pumping sessions. If you don’t, talk to your employer about using the breakroom or an empty conference room.

  • Carry a breastfeeding cover or wear a top with easy access: Stressed out at the thought of stripping down to pump while in the conference room? Of course you are. Even though Willow is made to be worn while doing anything, the fear is real!  Carry a breastfeeding cover with you or wear a top made for breastfeeding for added coverage.

  • Pump both breasts at one time: To make the most of your pumping time, pump both breasts at the same time. This can also improve your milk flow, which means more milk for your baby.

Your Rights to Pump at Work

Your employer is responsible for giving you a place to pump that’s comfortable and private. They’re also responsible for giving you enough break time each day to pump your milk. Talk to your boss about your needs, including a place to pump and how often you need to pump to maintain your schedule/supply.


FAQs From Parents Like You


When Should I Start Storing Breast Milk at Work?

The answer to this question depends on your and your baby’s needs. If you want to keep feeding your baby breast milk exclusively, you’ll need to pump and store it as soon as you return to work.


Can I Pump Into the Same Bottle All Day?

The Mayo Clinic recommends that you don’t mix refrigerated milk with warm, fresh milk unless you cool the fresh milk down first. But, unrefrigerated breast milk can last up to four hours. So, you could keep adding fresh milk to your bottle (deleted “so”) as long as it stays at room temperature  - then store once it’s full.


How Long Am I Allowed to Pump at Work?

It’s a requirement that your employer gives you enough time to finish a pumping session. For some moms, this means 15-20 minutes and for others, it may mean a bit more or less. Talk to your boss about your needs, so you can come up with a solution that works best for you.


Can I Still Breastfeed If I Don’t Pump at Work?

Yes. Not pumping at work won’t stop you from breastfeeding your baby. Your caregiver can supplement with formula during the day and you can breastfeed your baby before and after work.


Make Pumping Easy at Work With Willow


Pumping and storing breast milk at work doesn’t have to be stressful - in fact, it can be very empowering. Remember to talk to your boss about your pumping needs and choose a breast pump that fits your comfort level.


Get more work done and more milk flowing with Willow, the wearable breast pump made for parents on the go. Want to know more? Check out our Help Center or Shop Now.


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