How to Breast Pump While at Work

Updated on February 10, 2019
emilybee profile image

Emily is a first-time mom who works full-time and breast pumps at work. I've encountered challenges and overcame them and want to help you!

Think about the reason that you are pumping. Yes, it's tiring but your baby is the reason and they are worth it.
Think about the reason that you are pumping. Yes, it's tiring but your baby is the reason and they are worth it. | Source

Welcome Back to Work!

Time home with your baby goes by fast. Whether it is a few weeks or a few months, it can be hard to come back to the work force. Anxiety over coming back to work and leaving you baby can be overwhelming for many reasons. But let's ease those worries when it comes to feeding your baby while you are away.

Here are some simple things to know beforehand that can make the transition back to work easier when it comes to breast pumping at work.

Proper signage for the door of your pumping space is a good idea. At least at first until its well-known what you are doing! Of course it doesn't have to be as blunt as this sign :)
Proper signage for the door of your pumping space is a good idea. At least at first until its well-known what you are doing! Of course it doesn't have to be as blunt as this sign :) | Source

Find Your Pumping Space

Find your space where you'll be using to pump. If you have your own office, well, that is super easy. Just close the blinds, and voila! If you don't have your own office, let's get started on finding you a spot to pump.

It doesn't have to be a designated lactation room but can be an empty conference room, or mostly empty, if it's only rarely occupied.

Ask around if you can use someone else's office if they work out of the office at certain times each day or take an alternative time for lunch so you have a secured time spot available to pump.

Remember, there are breast pumping at work laws that give you certain rights, like a space to pump that is NOT a bathroom. It also enables you to pump as much during the work day as needed.

Go claim your pumping space!

The conference room that is mostly empty, where I typically pump. I check the calendar to make sure it will be empty though when I need it!!
The conference room that is mostly empty, where I typically pump. I check the calendar to make sure it will be empty though when I need it!! | Source

Pumping in Progress

Proper signs are important, at least until it is clear that your are unavailable for a few minutes. Although it may be awkward at first talking about pumping to your coworkers, it really makes it easier. You probably won't even need a sign on the door once you have a routine down. It really does get easier once everyone at the office knows what you're doing. Then you don't hear, "Why is Sally's office door closed?" while you're trying to pump.

My very discreet milk storage box for the office fridge.
My very discreet milk storage box for the office fridge. | Source

Organize Your Equipment

Organizing your pumping equipment makes it easier and more efficient to pump on the job. Every minute counts when you are on the clock and need to quickly get to the pumping spot, pump, put your equipment and milk away, and get back to your desk. I use a plastic Tupperware inside a lunch box that fits all my pumping parts. It makes it super easy to keep my stuff safe in-between pumping sessions, and I don't have to clean it until I get home. You also could use a freezer ziplock bag (if your parts are too big to fit), but I prefer the Tupperware as that itself is just easier to clean than a ziplock.

This is super discreet and won't make anyone uncomfortable about having breast milk around in the company fridge.

Pumping in someone else's office can feel cluttered but it gets the job done! Definitely use a sign when using someone else's office...especially when they are actually in the office but maybe in a meeting :)
Pumping in someone else's office can feel cluttered but it gets the job done! Definitely use a sign when using someone else's office...especially when they are actually in the office but maybe in a meeting :) | Source

Precious Liquid Gold Ounces

Go easy on yourself. At one pumping session you might get 5 ounces and then one session only 3 ounces. At 4 months old my daughter drinks about 12 ounces (4 ounces, 3 times during the work day) when I'm not with her. So that means I need to pump 3 times a day. However, I only pump twice at work and once early in the morning before work. This works for me since I work less than 10 minutes from my house and I work slightly shorter days (7.5 hours). I tend to pump around 10:45 am and 1:45 pm, give or take a few minutes. By the time I get home my baby usually has had her last bottle yet is always ready to have her next meal the second she sees me!

Get a Good Pump!

A good breast pump is necessary for successful pumping sessions. If at all possible, two pumps are better than one, to avoid lugging it to and from the office (if you need it at home at all). I use the Medela Pump at work and the Spectra Pump at home. Someone gave me a brand new Medela pump they had never used. I got the Spectra pump myself and leave that one at home. I usually pump at home first thing in the morning and leave the Medela at the office. I highly recommend both of these pumps.

Spectra Breast Pump

Spectra Baby USA - S2 Plus Premier Electric Breast Pump, Double/Single, Hospital Strength
Spectra Baby USA - S2 Plus Premier Electric Breast Pump, Double/Single, Hospital Strength

This is a great pump. There are more parts than my other pump has...so for that reason alone I decided to leave this pump at home and use the other one for the office. Once you get the hang of it though it's really quite easy to snap the parts together fast. I like that this pump has the function to press the botton when let down has begun and it also has a timer so you know how long you've been pumping for! That's really awesome when it can feel like forever! This pump does a great job at expressing milk and I would say I'm done pumping between 10 and 15 minutes.

 

Medala Pump in Style

Medela Pump in Style Advanced with On the Go Tote, Double Electric Breast Pump, Nursing Breastfeeding Supplement, Portable Battery Pack, Sleek Microfiber Tote Bag included with Breastpump
Medela Pump in Style Advanced with On the Go Tote, Double Electric Breast Pump, Nursing Breastfeeding Supplement, Portable Battery Pack, Sleek Microfiber Tote Bag included with Breastpump

This is the pump that they had in the hospital. I had to use it because our baby had to be in the hospital nursery monitored for several hours after birth. Since I wasn't able to feed her myself (and my milk wasn't in yet) I was told to try out the breast pump. What was great is I was sent home from the hospital with all of the parts that I used there - tubing, flanges, extra membranes and bottles! Since I had the Medala pump at home with its own set of parts that meant I had 2 complete sets which makes it easier for pumping at work.

 

Pumping at Work

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Store your breast milk bags flat when placing them in the freezer.
Store your breast milk bags flat when placing them in the freezer. | Source

Proper Breast Milk Storage

Once you do all the work pumping your milk, now it's time to use it or store it. I use it all the next work day but if it's a Friday, then into the freezer it goes. Then Sunday night I take out milk from the freezer for the following Monday. I leave it in the fridge for about 12 hours at least to thaw out. I only take the minimum amount of milk out from the freezer. Frozen milk can be tricky because once it is thawed out, it needs to be warmed and drank. It can't hang out in the fridge for a while like freshly expressed milk can. I learned that the hard way and did waste a few ounces of frozen milk by taking out a bag too many.

All in a day's work!
All in a day's work! | Source
I use this blue container to store all my freezer milk.
I use this blue container to store all my freezer milk. | Source

Goodluck!

Best of luck to you as you begin your journey of pumping breast milk at work. I'm sure you'll establish your own routine and find out what works best for you. Ask any questions in the comment section!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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