pumping at work tips

9 Pumping at Work Tips You Need to Know: A Quick Guide for Busy Moms

Returning to work after having a baby is a significant milestone in any new parent’s life. If you’re a breastfeeding mom, one of the challenges you might face is maintaining your milk supply and ensuring your little one continues to receive the nutrients they need. Pumping at work can be a tricky task, but with some practical tips and a good sense of humor, you’ll be a pro at balancing your career and your breastfeeding journey in no time.

Pumping at work tips

  1. Prepare for pumping at work

  2. Create a pumping schedule

  3. Choose the right pump for work

  4. Pumping area and workspace adaptations

  5. Maximize Pumping Comfort and Efficiency

  6. Address Supply Challenges

  7. Breast Milk Storage and Freezer Stash

  8. Additional Pumping Support and Gear

  9. Understand Legislation and Resources

1. Prepare for Pumping at Work

Know Your Rights

Before you start pumping at work, it’s important to understand your legal rights. Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), you have the right to reasonable break time for expressing milk as often as needed, as well as a private, non-bathroom space for pumping breast milk. These provisions apply until your child turns one. That said, state laws can vary, so make sure you familiarize yourself with your specific state’s laws.

Communicate with Your Employer

To ensure a smoother transition back to work, it’s crucial to have open communication with your employer. Inform them about your need to pump at work and discuss potential accommodations such as:

  • A comfortable and private space for pumping

  • Flexible break times

  • A refrigerator or cooler for storing breast milk

By being proactive and addressing your needs, you’re more likely to establish a supportive work environment for pumping.

Gather Necessary Supplies

A successful pumping experience at work requires preparing the right supplies beforehand. Here are some essentials to gather in your diaper bag:

  • A high-quality, double-electric breast pump, which can cost anywhere from $150 to $300, or see if your insurance can provide one at a reduced cost or for free under the Affordable Care Act

  • An extra set of breast pump parts for emergencies or forgotten items

  • A sturdy and discreet cooler or insulated bag with ice packs for breast milk storage bags

  • A hands-free pumping bra, which can significantly cut down on the time required for pumping

  • Cleaning supplies like soap, hot water, and a basin or container to wash your pump parts

  • Disinfectant wipes to clean your pump before and after use, especially if you have a shared pump

  • The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has guidelines specifically related to keeping your breast pump parts clean.

By taking the time to prepare these items, you’re setting yourself up for a more successful and organized pumping experience at work.

Further reading: Successful breastfeeding: a comprehensive guide

2. Create a Pumping Schedule

Consider Your Baby’s Feeding Schedule

It’s essential to consider your baby’s feeding pattern when creating a schedule. Observe how often your little one feeds during the day and aim to pump around those times to help maintain your milk supply. A sample pumping schedule might look like this:


Just before leaving for work

Approximately 10am
Approximately 1pm
Approximately 4pm
As soon as you are home
Sample schedule for pumping and breastfeeding when returning to work

Be Flexible with Work Commitments

Things don’t always go as planned, especially when you’re juggling work and a new baby. It’s essential to be flexible and adjust your pumping schedule as needed. For example, if you have a meeting during your usual pumping time, try to pump earlier or later in the day to accommodate. Get creative – maybe you can squeeze in a quick 15-20 minute pumping session during your lunch hour or a break.

Plan for Proper Storage

To ensure your precious liquid gold doesn’t go to waste, plan ahead for storage. First, identify a suitable location to store your expressed milk during the workday (think: refrigerator or portable breast milk cooler). Then, make sure you have all the necessary supplies like bottles, bags, and ice packs to store breast milk in. You’ll also want to prepare a pumping spot that’s clean, quiet, and private (if required).

Remember that your pumping plan is a work in progress. It may take a few tries to get it just right. Don’t forget to give yourself some credit – you’re doing an amazing job nurturing your baby while continuing your career!

Further reading: 52 Fascinating Breastmilk Facts: Discover the Incredible Truths About Nature’s Nourishment

3. Choose the Right Pump for Work

Manual pump vs Electric pump

When it comes to selecting a breast pump for work, you have two main options: manual and electric. Manual pumps are generally more affordable and portable, but they typically take more time and effort to pump each breast. On the other hand, electric pumps automatically extract breast milk and can save you time, especially when you’re at work and every minute counts.

Double Breast Pumps

A double breast pump allows you to pump simultaneously, cutting your pumping time in half compared to pumping times when using a single breast pump. This can be a complete game-changer for busy working moms!

Wearable and Hospital-Grade Options

Wearable pumps are a fantastic choice for pumping moms because they’re hands-free and discreet. You can wear them under your clothes, allowing you to express milk while at your desk or even in meetings without anyone noticing. They are also very quiet and usually electric.

A hospital-grade pump, on the other hand, is powerful and efficient. These pumps can help establish, maintain, and even increase your milk production. They may be more expensive, but they are a great option for breastfeeding moms who require rapid and efficient pumping sessions.

When choosing the right breast pump for work consider factors like portability, efficiency, and discretion. And remember: every little bit of breast milk you can provide for your baby is a precious gift, so go ahead and pump it up!

Further reading: The 6 Best Smart Breast Pumps for Busy Moms and The best wearable breast pumps

4. Pumping Area and Workspace Adaptations

Find a Suitable Pumping Space

Finding the right space to pump at work is essential. You’ll want a private, comfortable, and clean area for your pumping sessions. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box! Whether it’s an unused office or a quiet storage room, consider repurposing a space with the help of your employer.

Establish Your Pumping Needs and Boundaries

It’s crucial to establish and communicate your boundaries with coworkers and supervisors for a smooth integration of your pumping sessions into your workday. Educate them on the importance of these breaks, and kindly ask for their support. By encouraging open communication, you’re keeping the “breast” interests of both you and your baby in mind!

Remember, by creating a comfortable pumping area and establishing your needs and boundaries, you’re setting yourself up for success as a working, pumping mom. Embrace this incredible journey with humor, confidence, and joy—your baby will thank you!

Further reading: Depressed About Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave? 7 Simple Strategies to Regain Your Confidence

5. Maximize Pumping Comfort and Efficiency

Choosing a Pumping Bra

A good nursing bra is a breastfeeding essential for any mom but if you will be pumping a lot then finding the right pumping bra can make all the difference when it comes to comfort and efficiency. Look for a bra that provides good support and allows for hands-free pumping, which can be a game-changer when you’re multitasking at work. This is definitely not a fashion piece but you won’t regret purchasing one!

A quality pumping bra with adjustable straps and closure options will help you find the perfect fit. Make sure it’s compatible with your breast pump, so you can easily insert and remove the flanges.

Don’t be afraid to invest in a pumping bra that’s both comfortable and functional. Your boobs (and your schedule) will thank you!

Breastfeeding Positioning Tips

While your pumping bra is important, so is the position you find yourself in while pumping. A few easy changes in your posture can go a long way in ensuring a comfortable and efficient pumping experience.

  • Stay Relaxed: Find a quiet and comfortable space to pump, so you can avoid stressing out your body. A relaxed body can help promote better milk flow.

  • Lean Forward: It’s all about gravity, my friend! Leaning forward slightly will help your milk flow more easily, allowing for a more productive pumping session. Grab a pillow or a rolled-up towel for extra support.

  • Massage Your Breasts: Gently massaging your breasts before and during pumping can help stimulate milk letdown and improve output.

With the right pumping bra and proper positioning, you can find comfort while efficiently collecting that liquid gold for your precious little one. Happy pumping!

Further reading: 11 Common Breastfeeding problems and how to fix them for good

6. Address Supply Challenges

Consult a Lactation Consultant

If you’re experiencing challenges with your milk supply, it’s essential to reach out to a lactation consultant who can offer you expert advice. They can guide you through the process of breastfeeding and pumping, making it feel like a breeze. Who knew a little guidance could make such a difference!

Returning to Exclusively Breastfeeding

Don’t forget, your body is incredible, and it’s possible to resume exclusively breastfeeding even if your milk supply has dipped. Gradually increase your nursing or pumping sessions to give your body a hint that it’s time to get production ramped up. Remind yourself that perseverance is key, and soon enough, you’ll be like a well-oiled breastfeeding machine.

Managing Engorgement

Sometimes, it may feel like your breasts are staging a revolution against you, becoming swollen and uncomfortable. Engorgement can be a challenge while pumping at work, but fear not! There are some simple tips to help soothe your milk-filled monarchy.

  • Try to establish a pumping routine before returning to work to set the stage for a smooth transition.

  • Put placeholders in your work calendar to prevent meetings from interfering with your pumping sessions.

  • Storing pump parts in the fridge can allow you to reuse them (twice max) and reduce the hassle of carrying additional items to work.

  • Pack your pump bag with storage bags as a backup plan for forgotten bottles or lids.

As you navigate the pumping adventures at work, remember to stay patient and keep your sense of humor. Reach out to your support system and give yourself a pat on the back—you’ve got this!

Further reading: Engorgement vs Mastitis: Understanding the difference, Breastfeeding vs Exclusive Pumping: Which is Right for You? and How to Increase Milk Supply Quickly: Tips and Tricks for Breastfeeding Moms

7. Breast Milk Storage and Freezer Stash

Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

Proper breast milk storage is crucial to ensure your baby gets the best quality nourishment. So here are a few pointers:

  • Store milk in BPA-free containers, preferably designed for pumped milk.

  • Keep it cool: refrigerate at 40°F or freeze at 0°F.

  • Label the containers with dates so you know which milk to use first.

Remember, fresh milk is always best! However, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and in the freezer for around 6-12 months (but try using it within 6 months).

Building and Maintaining a Freezer Stash

A supply of frozen breast milk is a true lifesaver for nursing moms! It ensures you have enough breast milk supply for your baby when you’re not around. Here’s how to build and maintain one:

  • Pump during maternity leave: pump 1-2 sessions a day to help teach your body to respond to the pump while building a stash.

  • Pump early in the morning when milk supply is highest.

  • Rotate your stash: use older milk first and add the new stuff at the back to maintain freshness.

How much breastmilk should I store before returning to work?

To be on the safe side, you only need about 2 days’ worth of breast milk stored up before you return to work. Think about how old your baby is – a 3-month-old for example will probably need about 10 – 14 ounces while you are at work for an 8-hour day. Always best to have a little extra in storage just in case!

There you have it! Happy pumping and milk storing. You’re doing a great job nourishing your little one, even when you’re not there. Keep up the fantastic work!

Further reading: How to Organize Frozen Breast Milk in Your Freezer – 10 Expert Tips

8. Additional Pumping Support and Gear

Breastfeeding Mothers Groups

Joining a breastfeeding mothers group can be a game-changer for working moms. They provide valuable support, advice, and encouragement on your breastfeeding or pumping journey. Connecting with other working parents in the same boat can make a world of difference! Check out local online forums or social media groups to find one in your area. Remember, we’re all in this pumping boat together!

Additional Pumping Gear to Keep at Work

Having some extra gear at your workplace can make pumping much more convenient and efficient. Here are some top recommendations:

  • Spare pump parts: Just like you, your pump parts need some TLC. Keep a set of extra pump parts at work, because you never know when a valve may go rogue or tubing might play hide-and-seek.

  • Cleaning supplies: Be prepared to clean your pump parts without a hassle. Use a basin (not a sink!) to store your pump parts before washing. A cleaning brush can be a trusty sidekick to get the job done quickly and effectively.

  • Breast pads: Laugh, sneeze, or even think about your baby, and leakage can happen. Keep some breast pads on hand to avoid awkward wet spots on your work attire.

  • Hybrid nursing and pumping bra: Invest in a comfortable nursing and pumping bra that does it all. It’ll help you avoid Pumping Olympics while juggling pump parts, clothing, and flanges – trust us, you’ll appreciate the seamless transition between pump and baby!

  • Healthy snacks: Take a decent supply of healthy snacks to remain hydrated and nourished. You may find protein shakes designed for breastfeeding moms are beneficial.

  • A picture of your baby: A picture or video of your baby will really help with let down!

Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back, because you’re doing an amazing job juggling work and breastfeeding. Now go forth and pump with confidence, knowing you have the right support and gear in your pumping toolkit!

Further reading: 16 Breastfeeding essentials: Must-have products for your nursing journey

9. Breast Pumping at Work Laws

Navigating the world of pumping rights at work for breastfeeding moms can be challenging, but understanding the laws and resources available to you can make the process a lot smoother. In this section, we’ll explore two key pieces of legislation that support breastfeeding mothers in the workplace: Break Time for Nursing Mothers and The Affordable Care Act.

Break Time for Nursing Mothers – FLSA

Thanks to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to provide reasonable break time for employees to express breast milk for their nursing child for up to one year after the child’s birth. Federal law ensures that you have a private space to pump at work, a private room other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view. So, no more hiding in the broom closet for you!

Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP act)

On top of that, the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act went into full effect in April 2023 and aims to close the coverage gap, extending the right to pumping breaks and private spaces to nearly 9 million more workers. This includes teachers, so they don’t have to choose between educating the next generation and nourishing their own little ones.

The Affordable Care Act

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health insurance plans must cover breastfeeding support and supplies, including breast pumps, without charging you a copayment or coinsurance. Say goodbye to out-of-pocket expenses and hello to breast pumping in style!

Moreover, the ACA also bolsters the Break Time for Nursing Mothers provision by requiring all employers to provide reasonable break time and a private space for nursing mothers.

So there you have it! You’re now better equipped to understand your rights and the legislation that supports you as a breastfeeding mother in the workplace. Now, go forth and pump with newfound knowledge and confidence!

Further reading: The 11 Best Books About Breastfeeding To Guide You Through Every Nursing Challenge


Juggling a busy work schedule while ensuring your baby has enough milk can be a daunting task. However, with the right strategies and equipment, breast pumping at work becomes more manageable. Adhering to a regular pumping session is paramount, and your employer should accommodate your needs, including regular pumping breaks, as prescribed by laws related to breastfeeding and pumping at work such as the Pump Act.

By having a dependable breast pump and a well-stocked diaper bag filled with essentials you’ll always be ready for any pumping-related scenario. More importantly, it’s crucial to remember that the amount of milk you pump may vary. Sometimes you might pump more milk, and other times less milk, which is entirely normal and okay.

The availability of a private room for breast pumping, also known as a mother’s room or lactation room, is essential. This space should be clean and comfortable, and preferably have a heated drying cycle option for equipment. That said, don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t have access to the perfect room. As long as you have some privacy, you can handle pumping at work efficiently.

Lastly, never forget that you are a superhero, and even though pumping at work may seem challenging, you can do it. When your baby arrives, you’ll be ready and prepared to handle this new chapter with confidence and grace.

Further reading: How to Transition From Pumping to Breastfeeding: Your Relactation Strategy for 2023


Questions? I Have Answers.

Make pumping easier at work by scheduling regular breaks, investing in a good pump, and creating a comfortable pumping space.

Your pumping breaks should align with your baby’s feeding schedule, typically around 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours.

Survive pumping at work by planning, seeking support from colleagues, maintaining a positive mindset, and prioritizing comfort.

Pumping every 4 hours might work, but it’s generally recommended to pump every 2-3 hours to maintain milk supply.

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