When I had my first baby and returned to work, I felt very stressed about how to time pumping when I wasn’t with him. I would call my baby-sitter to check when he was eating at home and try to time my pumping around his schedule. It became a little unmanageable, and I actually learned that it’s really okay to pump when it makes sense, as long as you give your body enough time to build up milk for the next time you’ll be nursing your baby.
You can schedule your pumping sessions every 2-3 hours while you’re at work, so you’re consistently stimulating your body to produce milk. Remember to stay hydrated and nourished — you’re taking care of the baby, but you also need to take care of yourself!
Here is a sample schedule for a mom working a traditional 9-5 workday.
7 a.m. – Nurse Baby
(Many moms find they have the most milk first thing in the morning, because your levels of prolactin, the milk-producing hormone, are highest overnight. So if your schedule permits, you could try to also pump before or after that morning feed. I know some women who get up and pump and then get dressed, and then nurse the baby before heading to work. Some even nurse the baby on one side while pumping on the other! So this is an option especially if you’re struggling to pump enough milk, but don’t do it if it makes your morning too rushed!)
10 a.m. – Pump at Work (20-30 minutes)
1 p.m. – Pump at Work (while eating lunch, 20-30 minutes)
4 p.m. – Pump at Work (20-30 minutes)
(If you are only able to pump twice you could move the times to 11am and 3pm)
6 p.m. – Nurse baby when you get home from work, and possibly again before bedtime
(If baby sleeps through the night, you could also add a pumping session before you go to sleep, around 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.)
Of course, you may have to run off to meetings which are scheduled during your pumping time at work– and that alone can be stressful — but you get the gist. I always tried to push for conference calls!