Pumping at Work: Tips to Help You FIO

Find your groove with these tips.

There are all kinds of emotions that come with returning back to work after giving birth. You may be gearing up to go back to a daily routine, or you may want to stay curled up with your little one for a little while longer. Whatever emotions you’re feeling are completely normal and valid.

Often the most daunting aspect of returning back to a normal daily routine is pumping at work. Working a pumping schedule into your already busy 9-5 is no easy task, but with our simple tips and tricks we know you’ll be on your way to success. And for all our hybrid or working from home mamas, we’ve got you covered too!

Keep reading to learn how to build your own pumping at work schedules, and advice for returning back to everyday life.

How Often Should You Pump at Work?

During your work day you should try to pump every 3-4 hours for about 15-20 minutes a time. Base your pumping frequency off of how often your baby feeds each day. Remember that milk is produced on a supply and demand basis. In order to maintain your milk supply, you’ll need to stick to a strict pumping schedule.

How Long Should My Pumping Sessions be at Work?

Similar to how often you should pump at work, the length of your pumping sessions should be based on how long your baby feeds during each session. This will help mimic your baby’s feeding routine, and ultimately signal to your body to produce more milk. The general guideline for pumping duration is about 20 minutes per session. Remember that every mama is different, and that some may need more or less time depending on how much milk they produce.

Pumping at Work Schedule Templates

Did you know that your breast milk can take a bit of time to start flowing after you have your baby? You can expect to see your breast milk make its grand appearance 3-4 days after the birth of your little one.

Until your breast milk comes to volume, your body will make a substance called colostrum, a pre-milk that’s perfect for getting your baby started. Is it possible to pump thick colostrum? What’s it for? You’ll find answers to all of your questions right here, mama.

What Is Colostrum?

Colostrum is the first breast milk your body will make. In fact, its production begins in mid-pregnancy, around weeks 12-18. It will stick around for the first few days after your baby is born as a “starter” milk, chock full of nutrients, immune factors and fat.

Colostrum is a concentrated form of breast milk that may be yellow, white or clear in color. It’s also thick and sticky, which is much different from the breast milk you’ll make later. There are many benefits of colostrum for your baby:

  • Helps strengthen your baby’s immune system

  • Provides the right nutrients for baby’s fast growth and development

  • Acts as a diuretic to remove meconium before milk volume increases

  • Helps your baby learn how to breastfeed slowly

  • It’s low volume matches the size of your baby’s newborn stomach - blueberry sized for the first several days.

As colostrum is highly concentrated, you won’t make a lot of it. After all, a little bit will go a long way. You may only make 1 to 4 teaspoons of colostrum each day, but rest assured, you’ll always make the right amount for your baby.

When You Should Pump Colostrum

Sometimes babies may not be able to nurse at first due to medical conditions or trouble with latching. And you may struggle with sore breasts after birth. It’s also possible for you to choose not to nurse and instead pump breast milk for your baby. The good news is you can put that pump to good use after the birth of your baby by pumping colostrum if you so choose.

Wait Until Your Baby Is Born to Pump Colostrum

It’s important to note that pumping colostrum before your baby is born can be potentially dangerous. In some cases, pumping colostrum during pregnancy can induce labor which can lead to premature birth.

Wait until after your baby is born to pump unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise. You’ll have plenty of colostrum to pump and store once your baby is here.

How to Remove & Store Colostrum

Ready to gather that liquid gold for your baby, mama? If so, there are two main ways you can do so: via breast pump or hand express.

Pump vs. Hand Express

If you already have an electric breast pump, you can hook it up to both breasts to remove colostrum from each. Or, you can try to do one breast at a time, depending on the type of pump you have. You can also try a manual pump that may give you more control.

Since your breasts don’t hold a high amount of colostrum and it’s particularly thick, a pump may not yield as much as hand expressing will. Research has shown that expressing colostrum with your hand can help you save every last drop versus trying to pump into a container.

How to Hand Express Colostrum

To hand express, make sure you wash your hands with soap and water first. Then, start massaging your breasts to jumpstart the letdown process. Place your hand in a c-shape around your breast with your thumb at the outer edge of the areola. Then, squeeze your hand gently and move toward your nipple.

After a few seconds, you should start to see colostrum forming at the nipple. Gather the colostrum in a spoon, then place it in an airtight container or jar. When you’re ready to feed your little one, you can suck the colostrum into a syringe or a small cup and feed your baby that way.

You should follow the same storage guidelines as you would for breastmilk. Colostrum can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 hours or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can also store your colostrum in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Pumping Colostrum FAQs

To alleviate some of the stress of finding time to pump during work, we created a few pumping at work schedule templates for you to easily follow. Note that while your work schedule may be 8 hours, it’s also important to factor in your commute time.

We know that not all mamas are working in person, check out our fourth schedule template specialized for hybrid or work from home schedules. See our templates below:

Schedule 1 (Hour commute)

Schedule 2 (30 min commute)

Schedule 3 (With lunch visit)

Schedule 4 (Hybrid or WFH)

5 a.m. Pump (Store for day)

5 a.m. Breastfeed

5:30 a.m. Breastfeed

5 a.m. Breastfeed

6:30 a.m. Breastfeed

7 a.m. Pump (Store for day)

7 a.m. Breastfeed

7 a.m. Pump

8-9 a.m. Commute to work

8:30 - 9 a.m. Commute to work

8:30-9 a.m. Commute to work

8:30 - 9 a.m. Commute to work

9 a.m. Pump at work

10 a.m. Pump at work

9 a.m. Pump at work

9:30 a.m. Pump at work

12 p.m. Pump at lunch

1 p.m. Pump at work

12 p.m. Breastfeed

12 p.m. Commute home

3 p.m. Pump during break

4 p.m. Pump at work

3 p.m. Pump during break

12:30 p.m. Breastfeed

5-6 p.m. Commute home

5-5:30 p.m. Commute home

5-5:30 p.m. Commute home

3:30 p.m. Breastfeed

6 p.m. Breastfeed

5:30 p.m. Breastfeed

5:30 p.m. Breastfeed

5:30 p.m. Pump

8:30 p.m. Bedtime breastfeed

8 p.m. Bedtime breastfeed

8 p.m. Bedtime breastfeed

8 p.m. Bedtime breastfeed

10:30 p.m. Pump (Store for next day)

10 p.m. Pump (store for next day)

10 p.m. Pump (store for next day)

10 p.m. Pump (store for next day)

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