Going back to work while still breastfeeding is stressful, but totally doable with a little preparation (and I don't mean a giant freezer stash of frozen milk!). We'll break it down for you and highlight some handy products that will make it as smooth (and short!) as possible for you
When and how often should you pump?
Pumping should mimic the schedule of direct feeding your baby, so you should try to maintain the same schedule you had at home. Best case is if you can direct feed your baby as soon as you and baby wake up, and then pump to make sure breasts are empty before leaving for work. Depending on when you start your work day, you may then need to pump around mid-morning, mid-afternoon and then around 6pm, or when you get home if it's around that time. That leaves about 4 hours between pumps. Depending on your breasts' storage capacity, you may be able to stretch that to about 6hours, but if you start to see your milk supply drop, then try to go back to roughly every 4 hours.
Pro tip: block out your calendar to avoid people booking meeting's during pumping time!
Which pump should you use?
I recommend choosing a breast pump that's small and portable, of course, but also battery operated so you don't have to always be next to a wall socket. Obviously the more powerful and efficient your pump is, the better as it will significantly reduce your pumping time.
Pro Tip: It's also a great idea to bring a Haakaa silicone breast pump with you in case you can't get away from your desk. It isn't motor operated so is completely silent and discrete, so if you need to relieve your boobs, you can use the Haakaa between pumps too
How to store expressed milk?
Expressed milk from the same day can be refrigerated together and then consolidated at the end of the day for freezing, if necessary, or consumption the next day. I normally bring two sets (because I pump twice at work) of collection bottles and refrigerate my milk in those until I get home with my ice pack, and then you can transfer them into whatever you would normally use at home. There are lots of reusable milk freezing options today, so if single use milk storage bags don't feel right to you, have a look at the silicone trays and containers we have available.
Other Recommended Products
I carried my pump with its tubing and parts, collection bottles and ice pack, and hands-free pumping bra in a GroVia wet bag. It ensures any messes are contained and I have everything in one place, so I can bring just that to the pumping room.
I highly recommend the Simple Wishes hands-free pumping bra as it fits over my nursing bra (just unhook the front panels), held my pump in the right position very securely, and it fits a wide range of sizes. Makes multi-tasking a cinch, so you can catch up on photos of your little one!
If you don't have a dedicated pumping room, a nursing cover or large swaddle that you can tie around your neck can also be handy to cover yourself while you pump. If you're going with this method, make sure you wear maternity dresses that allow you to hook up your pump without getting undressed