Breastfeeding, pumping, & working

If you are a woman and you breastfed or pumped, even if for just a day, you should give yourself a huge pat on the back. It is a lot of work, rewarding work but work all the same. I knew when I got pregnant that I absolutely wanted to breastfeed, while in nursing school I did a whole elective on breastfeeding and lactation consulting so I knew the benefits and importance of it, but with that said after working and having friends go through it I also knew how extremely hard and challenging it could be. My goal has been to exclusively breastfeed ideally for at least 6 months with an ultimate goal of 1 year. Breastfeeding is not for everyone and I totally get that, but for me it was something as a mom I wanted to do so bad especially after having to have a c-section and not getting to experience a true labor and delivery I wanted it even more. I will say to anyone who has or is about to partake on the adventure of breastfeeding if it gets to be too much or so overwhelming that it is stealing from you, the joy of having a precious newborn, that it is more important for your baby to have a happy, healthy mommy than it is your breastmilk. Hear me when I say yes breastmilk is so good for your baby but them having a mommy that is sane and healthy is far MORE important. So with that being said when I started breastfeeding I also knew I would sadly be returning to work after my 12 weeks of maternity leave and wanted to be as prepared as possible and make the transition as easy as possible for us. I am not an expert and have honestly only been doing it for a little over a month now but I feel very sure my plan has so far worked rather seamlessly and I feel that I have a pretty good routine down. I did a lot of research on how to best do this, talked to some sweet friends who have done it before me, and have done some trial and error of my own.

Pumping: I started pumping very early on to increase my milk supply. You don't want to over pump and make your body think it needs to make more milk but my routine was that I pumped every morning after Isabella's morning feeding (your milk supply is the highest in the morning) and I would store that away for when I returned to work. At the beginning it was only an ounce or so but slowly increased. My goal was to pump and store about 3 oz a day. I had over 250 ounces of milk saved up before I returned to work which might be a little much but I wanted a safety net in case my milk supply decreased when I went back to work.

Storage: At the beginning I used the small bottles below to pump into since it started out as small as 1/2 an ounce to an ounce. Then transitioned into these bigger Medela bottles that attach right to the pump and then transferred them into the Medela bags (I honestly really like the Target brand bags here as well).  You can pump straight into the Medela bags but not the Target brand. I don't do this but you definitely can I am too fidgety and worried about spilling;) I like this Medela gift set to kind of get you started. You can get a few essentials without investing too much money before you know if pumping will be for you.

My recommendations for Breastmilk storage:
*Start with these bottles until your milk supply increases
*Buy these 8 oz big bottles for your pump (this way you don't
 have to worry about overflow etc once your milk supply increases)
*Store your milk in 3 oz increments (this makes thawing so much easier later-I learned
this the hard way)
*Date, time and put how many ounces are in each containter EVERY time
*I like these containers to put the bags in because the milk will then freeze nicely
 and not all spread out in your bag

After the milk is frozen in the containers I then take it out and place it into large freezer bags with the date on them.

I freeze what I pump everyday and thaw out my oldest milk for the next day. I debated on how to do this and I may change it later once I don't have as much stored but I didn't want any of my milk to go bad so I use the oldest first not my newest! I also wanted her to get all my colostrum during the winter season to hopefully give her an extra boost so I wanted to use that store first.

Choosing your pump: If you are going to be someone that has to pump on the go i.e. while driving I would suggest this pump but if you aren't planning on that and will mostly be in an office or at home I think this pump is just perfect. Also check with your insurance company and see if they will cover a pump because some will!! I also think it is a great idea to wait to purchase a pump, you can rent one from most hospitals for about $30/month...this is a great option so you don't spend the money on a pump that you may not use.

I highly recommend a hands free bra if you will need to pump and multitask and what woman doesn't!?!

Cleaning my pump at work:
Thankfully my office has a wonderful coffee maker that produces the hottest water I have ever seen so I use that during the day to rinse/clean my parts. I am in love with Dawn Pure Essentials that is dye free. I bring a small bottle to clean my pieces but if I am in a hurry or not close to a sink these Medela Wipes are incredible. Remember no milk touches your tubing so you don't have to wash that part.

My usual routine:
-Night before I pull out 9 oz of breastmilk from the freezer and place in fridge to thaw
(Isabella takes 3-3oz bottles while I work)

-Next morning, place 3oz in each bottle 
And obv send her off in style;) backpack; bottle labels

4:30 am-Get to actually breastfeed Isabella before I leave
(this was a choice I made because I really wanted to get to nurse her before I leave,
she strangely almost always wakes up at this time too but doesn't on the weekends
and if not I nurse her and she falls right back to sleep)

6 am-pump when I arrive to my office and am looking
 up patients for the day (I usually pump the most at this time)



Pick up Miss Isabella around 3 and feed her around 4:30-5!!

So though pumping, cleaning parts/bottles etc is a lot of work it makes me smile to know that though I'm not with Isabella I am doing something for her good and mine while we are apart! I also look at pictures or videos of her while I pump-this actually helps with your milk supply since it is driven by hormones you release. Often times mom's with babies in the NICU we tell to do this to help their milk production.

A lactation consultant friend gave me this advice right before returning to work-"do not think pumping only once or twice a day is enough, you need to pump when your baby would normally eat to keep your milk supply." So I do just that, especially since Isabella has been sleeping through the night since 8 weeks old and this can affect milk supply. Ideally try not to go longer than 4 hours between each pumping session!

Another huge suggestion if you have never pumped before definitely ask a lactation consultant to show you how before you leave the hospital. If you get home and have any breastfeeding questions or concerns the lactation consultant at your hospital you delivered at is a great resource. I asked for a pump while I was in the hospital to use and it was great because they loaded me up with extra parts and bottles! Score!!

Hope this helps I know it helped me to have a plan and talk to some friends who had done it before me.

Great breastmilk storage guidelines: La Leche

Countertop, tableRoom temperature (up to 77°F or 25°C)6–8 hoursContainers should be covered and kept as cool as possible; covering the container with a cool towel may keep milk cooler.
Insulated cooler bag5-39°F or -15-4°C24 hours
Keep ice packs in contact with milk containers at all times, limit opening cooler bag.
Refrigerator39°F or 4°C5 days
Store milk in the back of the main body of the refrigerator.

FreezerStore milk toward the back of the freezer, where temperature is most constant.  Milk stored for longer durations in the ranges listed is safe, but some of the lipids in the milk undergo degradation resulting in lower quality.

Freezer compartment of a refrigerator

5°F or -15°C2 weeks
Freezer compartment of refrigerator with separate doors

0°F or -18°C

3–6 months
Chest or upright deep freezer-4°F or -20°C6–12 months

Reference: Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. (2004) Clinical Protocol Number #8: Human Milk Storage Information for Home Use for Healthy Full Term Infants Adobe PDF file [PDF-125k]External Web Site Icon. Princeton Junction, New Jersey: Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. Available


  1. Hey Steph! Sounds like you have a great plan in place to continue nursing long term! You totally rock mom! I'm going on 11 months with JAM and am still going strong. Since you gave a thorough and very useful break down of all things related to bfing, I thought I would add a few things other women may benefit from:
    (1)the hands free bra is a MUST for pumping!
    (2)defrost frozen milk bags laying on their side. Some storage bags have weak seams and the pressure of the milk defrosting can cause the seam to tear and milk to leak out. Very frustrating!
    (3) Have your significant other help you by washing bottles, pump parts, etc. so you don't have to do it all the time. Love those awesome hubbys!
    (4) let your pump run with the tubes attached for a few minutes after you finish pumping so that any condensation in the tubes dries out to avoid mold from growing in the tube/pump.
    (5) Drink tons of water to keep your supply up! I usually take a bottle of water (or more) with me when I pump.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us! I'm sure other mom's will benefit from all this great information!

    1. Awesome thanks so much for the additional feedback! Way to go momma:) JAM is precious!!

  2. I nursed and pumped exclusively our little one for 8-9 months and then we slowly introduced foods. He is a big lover of nursing and he is currently 19 months and still nurses at night. I think that it helps both of us since I am a workign mommy and like that time to reconnect with him each night. One thing that I would also suggest is go to to purchase pumps. They are discounted because their mission is to promote bf so they sell the pumps at cost. I purchased my Medella Freestyle pump from them and it came brand new and works great! Used it for many many pumping sessions while at school teaching :) Just thought that I would pass that along. The other thing that I loved while pumping is More Milk Plus supplements because my milk supply would change during the year and with changes in our son. Thanks for promoting bf and I am a big believer in bf for kids! Good work and keep it up :)

  3. Wow so great!! thanks SO much for the additional info! It is all so helpful!

  4. I am newly pregnant (only 15 weeks) & I stumbled across your blog. I love reading your posts--especially the ones when you were pregnant! I am planning to bf & also pump. I got so much information from your post. My husband really wants to be a part of the feeding process & have that special bond with our baby. When do you think is best for him to feed the baby? And should he use the milk that was stored away first? Or is it silly to have him used the stored milk when I'm physically there?

    1. First of all Congratulations!! So glad you found my blog. Let me know if there is anything in particular that I can post that you would find helpful. I definitely understand your husband wanting to be involved. They recommend not introducing a bottle until about 6 weeks of age (we introduced one at 4 weeks with no issues), this just helps prevent nipple confusion). It is important though to get used to the bottle at some point especially if you plan to return to work. My recommendation is to have your husband help with diaper changes, helping you get the baby awake and positioned for the feedings at the beginning. Makes them feel useful:) I would when you are home probably just offer the milk you pump that day in the bottle but if you haven't pumped, yes use your oldest frozen milk you have! Definitely not silly to let him offer a bottle, they recommend it being someone besides the mother offering the first bottles because they do better that way. Hope this helps!

  5. I found your blog a couple months ago on Pinterest- paleo crockpot meals! Now I have a 6 week old and this post was really helpful because I'm bfing and trying to figure out how to build a freezer supply. I have 4 more weeks home before I return back to work. Thanks fir the info!

    1. I'm so glad you found me and found this helpful! Let me know if you need any other help or encouragement. We made it a whole year so if you need any advice along the way let me know! Good luck and congratulations!!