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Pumping and Returning to Work

Have a plan for pumping when you return to work. This will make things much easier. Choose a good quality double electric breast pump. Most insurance companies will provide a pump for you.

  • When do I start?

    • Begin to pump one to two times a day about two weeks before you plan to return to work.
  • When is the best time to pump?

    A breast milk pump and bottle with mother and baby in the background.

    • We recommend:
      • You have more milk in the morning, so that is the best time pump. Sit down and pump about one to one and a half hours after baby’s morning feeding.
      • You can pump your other breast any time baby only takes one breast. 
      • You can pump any time after a feed if you feel your breasts are still full.
    • If baby is hungry right after you pump, just put baby to breast. Your breasts are never empty, and baby will still be able to stimulate another let down.
    • You may have to use that milk to feed baby after feeding at the breast. Don’t worry. Your supply will adapt. You will start to produce a little more to cover the extra that you need for pumping. 
  • How long should I pump?

    • You can either
      • Pump for about 15 minutes.
      • Or pump until milk stops flowing plus two more minutes. 
    • Put the milk you collect put in the freezer. 
    • If you continue this for about two weeks, you will have a good supply of milk stored before returning to work. 
  • How do I do this at work?

    • Know where you will be pumping when you return to work. 
    • Your employer is required to provide a private place where you can pump. This should not be a bathroom. 
    • Plan to pump as many times as your baby will eat while you are at work.
    • The last thing you do before leaving baby with child care is breastfeeding. And when you return to your baby, sit down and feed before you head on home. This will give you time to reconnect and help keep up your milk supply.
    • If your child care is close by, see if you can go breastfeed during your lunch break.
  • Can I practice?

    • A few days before you return to work, you may want to do a practice day. 
    • Plan to bottle feed your baby the milk you have collected.
    • You will pump at the times baby takes the bottle. Try to coordinate this with your partner. Your baby may be more willing to take a bottle from someone other than mom. 
    • The milk you pump on this day will be what baby eats on your first day back to work.
  • Will my baby have problems feeding from the bottle?

    • Most babies go back and forth between the breast and bottle with no problems by two to three months of age. 
    • If your baby has a hard time taking milk from a bottle, make sure the milk is nice and warm. Always test the temperature of the milk on the inside of your forearm.
    • You may have to try out a few different nipple shapes and sizes until you find one baby will accept.
  • How do I warm up the breast milk?

    • Heat water. Then place the frozen or chilled milk in the warm water.
    • Don’t put breast milk in the microwave. That would destroy the proteins and living cells that make breast milk so healthy for your baby.
  • Any tips for pumping?

    • When you sit down to pump remember to relax.
    • Massage your breasts before and during pumping.
    • Bring a picture of your baby to look at while you are pumping.