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Ask an Expert: Pumping and Working

Fan Question: I’m a first-time mom. My baby is one month old and I go back to work in a month. When should I pump and how can I store milk for work if my baby takes a bottle every day?
NANCY MOHRBACHER, IBCLC: Great questions! The best time to pump when you’re home with baby is usually about 30 to 60 minutes after the first feeding that you’re up for the day. Most moms have more available milk in the morning. Once your baby is taking the bottle well, you don’t have to give it every day. Every other day or even every third day is usually enough to prevent her from forgetting how. Another strategy that can help is rather than giving a full feeding from the bottle, give just an ounce or so. There are two advantages to giving a “snack” rather than a “meal.” It is less likely to affect your baby’s breastfeeding pattern, which helps you build your milk supply, and it means you have more milk to store for your return to work. Keep in mind that you don’t need gobs of milk. You just need enough milk for your first day back and a small reserve to cover the unexpected. At work, you should be able to pump each day what your baby needs for the next day. For realistic pumping expectations, see my post, How Much Milk Should You Expect to Pump? Best of luck!
unnamedNancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA is a board-certified lactation consultant in the Chicago area who has been helping breastfeeding families since 1982. Her books for professionals are used worldwide. Her books for parents include Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers, which she co-authored with Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, and her tiny problem-solving guide, Breastfeeding Solutions In 2013, Nancy released her Breastfeeding Solutions smartphone app (available for Android and iPhones) to give mothers a quick, go-everywhere source of breastfeeding help. Nancy speaks at events around the world.