Breastfeeding and Working
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about six months, with continued breastfeeding for one year or longer, as mutually desired by mother and infant. Even if separated, babies need their mother's milk. This means you may be considering expressing (or pumping) when you return to work.
Expressing breastmilk at work ensures you will continue to produce milk. To maintain an adequate supply, you will need to express milk around the times you would be breastfeeding if home with your baby. This can be accomplished by expressing milk during break times about every three hours. Also remember that while baby is under six months of age, an ounce for every hour of separation is enough to meet nutritional needs. For a nine-hour separation, leave three, 3-ounces bottles with a slow-flow nipple.
It is easy to overfeed a baby with a bottle. Instruct caregivers to feed your baby near the same intervals that you pump, not to overfeed your baby and to make sure that your baby is ready to eat when you return (your baby is the best pump).
Below is an example of a schedule for a mother working 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. This schedule allows for two 15-minutes breaks and 15-minutes at lunch to pump - assuming baby was last fed at 7 a.m.:
10 a.m. • pump 15 minutes
12:30 p.m. • pump 15 minutes
3:30 p.m. • pump 15 minutes
Individualize your plan to meet your needs. The time needed to express varies from mother to mother. Pumping both breasts at the same time normally results in greater supply in fewer minutes.
As your baby gets older (6+ months), the number of pumping sessions will likely decrease in frequency and length of time because you are adding more solid foods to your baby's diet. Always remember that you can contact a Lactation Consultant with questions.