Legacy Women's Health


Breastfeeding and working: How moms make it work

How to support breastfeeding and working during the dayFor breastfeeding new moms, returning to work can create logistical questions and challenges. Where to pump? When to pump? Where to store breast milk? How to ensure your baby has enough milk when you’re breastfeeding and working? What about pumping milk while traveling for work?

Planning and preparation are essential to breastfeeding at work. Improvements in labor standards for breastfeeding women, as well as advancements in breastfeeding equipment, make it a viable option for mothers. Our San Antonio OBGYNs support each mother’s choices when it comes to feeding her child, and we are here to help you with the advice and information you need to take care of your baby once you’re back on the job.

Before you return to work

Before returning from maternity leave, take steps at work and at home to prepare for breastfeeding and working.

It’s important to know that employers must provide a reasonable break time for expressing milk for one year after your child’s birth. They also have to provide a clean, private (non-bathroom) space for you to express milk.

Have a conversation with your employer before your leave ends to clarify the arrangements.

  • What space will be provided for pumping milk?
  • Where can breast milk be stored?
  • What times work best for the breaks?
  • Where do you have access to a sink where you can clean your pump after each use?
  • How soon do you need to prepare for pumping milk while traveling for work?

Our San Antonio OBGYNs recommend preparing a few weeks before you return to work.

  • Use your pump to express milk between feedings. This allows you to practice using the pump and store frozen milk that can be used when you are at work.
  • Give your baby bottles with breastmilk before you start working, to ensure your baby will take a bottle.

How to support breastfeeding and working during the day

When you do return to the workplace, these key steps will make it easier to combine breastfeeding and working.

  • Pump during the times you would feed your baby. This helps to maintain your milk supply.
  • Store your expressed milk in a refrigerator or cooler to take home and restock your frozen supply. If using a common refrigerator that is opened often, store your milk at the back of the refrigerator, where the temperature stays coldest. Use a permanent marker to label your milk with your name and the date it was expressed.
  • Clean your pump parts well after each use. Some women prefer to take multiple breast pump kits and use each kit one time, taking all the parts home to clean.
  • Care for yourself by staying hydrated and eating healthy food

A comprehensive breastfeeding kit will facilitate success.

  • A breast pump is the most effective method for expressing breast milk. Breast pumps are available in portable and hands-free models.
  • Bottles or sealable storage bags for the expressed milk
  • Cooler and ice packs for transporting milk home
  • Soap and brushes for cleaning your pump kit, or extra pump kits
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Nursing pads

Pumping milk while traveling

When you travel for work, it’s important to continue to express milk to maintain your milk supply. When you’re pumping milk while traveling, you need to decide whether you plan to store the milk to take home with you or “pump and dump.” If you plan to take milk home, you’ll need additional supplies for storage and freezing. For longer trips, some women choose to ship frozen milk home.

While travel does require preparation and planning, there are accommodations for nursing mothers. TSA allows breast milk in volumes greater than three ounces, as well as cooler bags and frozen ice packs to carry onto planes. Also, airports are required to have dedicated breastfeeding areas in each terminal. Becoming familiar with the TSA guidelines and airport layouts will help travel days go more smoothly.

In addition to your typical workday breastfeeding kit, you’ll need to pack additional items to ensure that your milk supply continues when pumping milk while traveling.

  • Bag to carry the pump and accessories
  • Travel breast pump (for the plane)
  • Regular breast pump (for hotel and office spaces)
  • Plastic bottles and bags to store milk
  • Nursing cover
  • Insulated cooler for breastmilk
  • Long-lasting ice packs
  • Dish soap (three ounces or less) and bottle brush
  • Thermometer to ensure milk maintains proper temperature

Preparation is the key

Returning to work after giving birth can be hard for new moms. Preparation and planning will ease the transition when breastfeeding and working, and also when pumping milk while traveling. Our San Antonio OBGYNs are available to help with any questions you have or support you need.