There are so many transitions in the first year of life but returning to work can definitely be one of the biggest ones! The path to returning to work is HIGHLY individualized BUT there are a lot of things that everyone should do. I recommend reading and analyzing this list as soon as possible. There are some things that can be done immediately before going back to work and some things that should be looked at WEEKS before going back to work. This post will break the timeline down as well. For some people, there will be things that need to be done sooner rather than later. Again, it’s so individualized. If you’re in need of additional assistance with preparing for back to work, you can work with me (or any other LC). 🙂 Now let’s dive in on today’s post about nursing and pumping when returning to work.
For going back to work and pumping, these first three would be categorized as things to do SOONER RATHER THAN LATER
1. Get to know your pump WAY BEFOREHAND
i would say a big majority of people test our their pumps as soon as they can! while some would say that is “doing too much”, i disagree. it’s sooo helpful to be extra prepared and knowledgable. now you may not need to actually pump at this time but it’s definitely helpful to have knowledge regarding the pump.
this general lactation resource post has some helpful videos and links regarding all different types of pumps, i 10/10 recommend checking it out.
2. Start saving milk (if possible)
no you don’t need a HUGE freezer stash but yes you’ll need to have a little brick of milk saved and ready to go once you go back. you technically only need enough milk saved for the first day but obviously if you can make a little more, that helps too.
3. Introduce bottle to your baby
introducing a bottle can happen differently for EVERY baby. in general, i’d recommend trying around the halfway point to introduce a bottle. this is also where having that small milk storage can come in handy… for practice bottles.
If you’re interested in purchasing some recommended bottles, head to this amazon shop affiliate list for bottles that other IBCLCs and I typically recommend.
Things that can be done a few weeks to a month before going back
4. Educate yourself and baby’s caregivers on bottle-feeding, bottle prep, and milk storage guidelines
there are LOTS of guidelines when it comes to bottle prep and milk storage guidelines. Before heading back to work, make sure all that involved with infant care are knowledgeable about these guidelines. This website includes all of the CDC guidelines regarding milk storage and bottle prep. Definitely check it out and save it!
5. Purchase extra pump parts
Having extra pump parts makes it easier for returning to work and pumping overall. If you head to my Amazon Shop, there’s an entire section of “extra pump parts” so far for medela and spectra pumps if you need to make any purchases. *Please note, this IS an affiliate link!
Things that can be done within a few weeks of going back (or sooner, if desired)
6. Talk to your superior
Easier said than done, I KNOW but communication is KEY. Talking to your boss or supervisor about your pumping plan is helpful to ensure that you will be able to meet your goals. When talking to them, make sure to tell them YOUR plans. And obviously y’all can have a conversation if there are any objections.
When having the conversation, make sure to tell them for how long your pumping session will last and how frequently you will be pumping while at work.
7. Mentally or physically do a “back-to-work” practice round
I love a good practice round. For one day at home, try to pretend that you’re at work… Pack your bag, leave your house, go to your job (if you can) and get everything set up and figured out ahead of time. Figure out where you will be pumping, where the outlets are, where the closest sink is, storing your milk, etc. Just make sure to mentally work through it before you have to actually do it.
8. Utilize the checklist
I love a checklist! In an upcoming Youtube video, I’ll be talking about my BIGGEST issues with going back to work and pumping. Spoiler alert: one of my biggest issues is that I didn’t have a checklist. Head to this link for a free downloadable checklist of what you’ll need when going back to work!
Things to be done the night before
9. Pack your bags!
When using the checklist, make sure you have EVERYTHING ready to go! Also make sure to pick out your outfit the night before and make it a pumping-friendly outfit.
Also check out this old post of super cute back-to-work pumping bags.
10. Mentally prepare yourself for what to expect and give yourself A LOT of grace.
As I briefly mentioned before, I made a few minor mistakes during my transition back to work. I did not know what to expect but fortunately, I didn’t expect much haha! I gave myself a lot of grace during the transition and all worked out well in the end. This is another huge transition for you. Literally as soon as you start to feel comfortable nursing, BOOM, you’re in new territory again. You’re a beginner to this transition so remember to take it easy on yourself!