The Complete Guide to Pumping at Work

Tips to make the transition easier on you.

Heading back to the office after the birth of your new breast-milk-loving bundle? If you’re feeling overwhelmed about the idea of pumping at work, we totally get it. After all, finding time to pump during the workday can be a challenge.

But, going back to work doesn’t have to keep you from feeding your baby the way you want, mama. With a few tips, tricks and tools, you’ll be able to make it work.

How to Prepare for Pumping at Work

Before you go back to work, there are a few things you should do to prepare to make sure there’s a smooth transition. Taking time to prepare beforehand will save your sanity as you balance work and mom life.

  • Find the perfect pump: The perfect pump will be compact, easily portable and powerful for at-work pumping sessions. While you may already have a breast pump at home, it might not be the best choice for work (more on this below).

  • Give your baby a bottle to try: Offer a bottle to your baby before you go back to work, so your little one can get used to eating this way. If you’re worried about nipple confusion, don’t be, mama. Most babies can drink with a bottle and from the breast without any issues at all.

  • Start building your freezer stash: Now is also the time to start pumping and building a nice breast milk stash inside your freezer. Start pumping a few weeks before you return to work, and you’ll have days worth of milk stored before you know it!

  • Practice with your pump: If you haven’t yet used your breast pump, do so now. Practice makes perfect, especially when pumping. By the time you go back to work, you’ll be able to latch, pump and store in record time.

  • Discuss your pumping plan with others: It’s a good idea to speak with your employer before your first day back about your pumping needs. For example, you’ll need a safe place to pump as well as scheduled times each day. You should also discuss breastfeeding needs with your baby’s caregiver. For example, discuss how much milk your baby should have each feeding and how your breast milk should be stored before feedings.

How to Choose the Right Breast Pump for Work

Have you bought your pump yet, mama? If not, now’s the time, so you can practice and your baby can get used to slurping liquid gold from a bottle.

For work, you’ll want a portable breast pump that’s easy to carry and lightweight. Depending on your comfort level, you may also want a quiet and discreet pump, such as the Willow, that you can wear inside your bra. You’ll also want to choose a high-quality pump since you’ll be using it daily.

To get the most out of every pumping session, we recommend looking for a double electric breast pump. This type of pump will allow you to pump both breasts at the same time quickly.

Already have a breast pump at home? If your budget allows, we recommend having two pumps to make pumping on the go easier. With a second pump, you’re able to clean and pack your pump back up for the next day, while still having access to another pump for evening sessions.

What Are the Laws for Pumping at Work?

What the Pump Act? On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 into law which includes the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act) and extends more rights to employees. It's ... a lot of information to absorb, so we made it easy for you! Head to our PUMP Act page for access to webinars from our partners at Simplifed and a quick downloadable PDF of everything you need to know!

Find your perfect pump.

Find your perfect pump.

Flexibility. Convenience. Control. No matter which pump you pick.

Scheduling Pumping Sessions at Work

You’ll need to put together a pumping schedule, so you can keep yourself on track. It’s also great to discuss your pumping schedule with your employer to ensure you’re both on the same page.

Learn more about the specifics of creating an effective and stress-free schedule for pumping at work in our pumping schedule guide.

Tips for Pumping at Work

1. Find a Good Spot

You’ll need a comfortable pumping spot that includes a chair and a table as well as a door that locks for discretion. If you’re using an electric pump, you may also need an outlet to plug your pump into. Remember, your employer is required to provide a place for your pump, whether it’s an empty office or a dedicated lactation room.

2. Pump Until Empty

Don’t rush, mama. It’s important that you pump each breast until they’re empty. When you don’t pump until your breasts are empty, they don’t receive the signal to make more milk. This means your breast milk supply might decrease as a result. Take your time and pump every last drop of milk.

3. Try to Relax

We know it can be difficult to pump while away from your baby. It can be especially challenging when you’re at work, listening to people walk by the door. To make the most of your pumping session, you need to try and relax.

Start by taking a few deep breaths. If you want to, listen to one of your favorite songs or give yourself a quick shoulder massage. Next, look at that adorable photo you took of your baby over the weekend on your phone. Soon, you should feel let down.

4. Stay Hydrated

Throughout the day, drink plenty of water. It’s best to bring a large water bottle with you everywhere you go, so it’s always close by for a quick sip. Breastfeeding takes a lot of fluid, so you’ll need to make sure you’re hydrated.

5. Check In With Yourself

All of this pumping, working and momming can be a challenge. You must take some time for yourself. Go out for a run, read a good book, go out for lunch with a friend or cook yourself a yummy meal.

If you’re feeling overly stressed, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your partner, a family member or your healthcare provider. Successful pumping requires you to be well too.

6. Check In With Your Employer About Pumping Needs

Did you know that the PUMP Act just passed and you have a lot of rights that are now required by federal law. It’s also okay to speak with your employer about your pumping needs. Does the door to your new pumping room not lock? Does your break room not have a fridge for breast milk storage? Is the chair you’re using to pump in uncomfortable?


7. Set an Alarm

During busy days, it’s easy to forget your pumping session. To make sure this doesn’t happen, set alarms on your phone to alert you of pumping times. If you’re unable to have immediate access to your phone at work, set alerts on your computer’s calendar.

Willow Pump Anywhere Bag

Willow Pump Anywhere Bag

Keep your pump safe and your milk cold on the go! This sleek, compact bag with removable milk cooler holds your pumping essentials as a backpack, crossbody, or shoulder bag.

How to Store Breast Milk at Work

Once you pump your breast milk, you’ll need to know how to store it properly. Freshly pumped breast milk can sit at room temperature for up to 4 hours, in the fridge for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 6 months.

If you plan on using your breast milk to feed your baby that day, store your milk in the fridge. You can do so by using milk storage bottles. Then, when you’re ready to pack up for the day, you can carry your milk home in a small cooler or insulated bag with a few ice packs.

Even if you plan on storing this milk for later use in your freezer, it’s best to chill it while at work and freeze it later. This eliminates the risk of halfway freezing your milk while at work and then thawing it while on your way home. According to the CDC, you should never refreeze thawed milk.

Portable Breastmilk Milk Cooler

Portable Breastmilk Milk Cooler

Store up to 16 oz of milk at a safe temperature for up to 24 hours with our new patent-pending Portable Breastmilk Cooler. 
It's the breastmilk chiller you'll bring everywhere.

Stay Discreet With Willow

If you’re looking for a hands-free and completely discreet breast pump for work, we’ve got ya covered with the Willow pump. Learn more about Willow by visiting our blog or shop now.

Get dressed with Armoire

Get dressed with Armoire

Find breastfeeding-friendly clothes that fit and give you confidence with a subscription to Armoire. Each delivery comes with 4, 6, or 7 pieces. Use code WILLOW for up to 50% off your first month.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of medical professionals. It should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions or problems. Please contact your healthcare provider with questions or concerns.
Which pump is right for you?
Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

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