Returning to Work after Maternity Leave



Pumping regularly during times of separation from a breastfed baby ensures that the baby has milk and that your milk production stays strong. Milk production is governed by supply and demand, and going long stretches without stimulating the breasts can reduce your milk production.

Equipment Needed:

• Double electric breast pump
• Properly sized flanges
• Milk storage method, i.e. bags or bottles
• Cooler, or other temperature stable way to transport milk
• Bottles for feeding


The goals is to continue breastfeeding on demand when you are with your baby, and to pump and store a small supply of frozen milk ready when you need it. Remember, you only need to have milk for your first day back at work stored, as you will be pumping each day at work to provide milk for the next day. Having more in your freezer is nice but not a necessity.

  1. Breastfeed often to protect your milk production.
  2. When your baby is 2-3 weeks old or when breastfeeding is well established, you can begin pumping after 1 or 2 breastfeeding sessions per day for 15 minutes. This is in addition to breastfeeding on demand. The is milk can be stored in your freezer for later use.
  3. Store the milk in meal-sized portions, usually 2-3 ounces. It can be helpful to save some smaller 1 ounce portions. Storing your breastmilk in smaller portions reduces the likelihood that milk is discarded after it’s thawed.
  4. Follow breast milk storage guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control.
  5. Talk to your employer about where and when you will pump when you return to work. There are laws protecting your right to pump and provide breastmilk for your baby while working. Most work environments have a plan in place for new parents.
  6. Try a practice run where you leave your baby with a caregiver who will feed your baby a bottle of breastmilk. Introducing a bottle around weeks 3-4 and continue to offer “reminder” bottles a few times a week. This can make returning to work less stressful for you and your baby.
  7. Make sure that you are using the most appropriate breastpump for what you need. A double electric breastpump is most appropriate for frequent pumping. Some parents find that a rented hospital grade pump is needed for better breast stimulation.

Follow Up:

See a qualified lactation professional for in-person for assistance with supplementation and paced bottle feeding.


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