Breastfeeding and Returning to Work
With the use of a good pump and some experience under your belt, you should be able to pump your breasts in about 10 to 15 minutes -- about the same amount of time it takes to breastfeed your little one. It is a good idea to try to pump as often as your child usually breastfeeds to help keep your milk supply up and in sync with your baby's demands.
During the first few months, your baby will probably breastfeed 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period. This comes out to about two to three times during the usual eight-hour workday. There are some shortcuts you can take, such as using a breast pump that has two pumping stations. These allow you to pump both breasts at the same time, saving you some extra time and minimizing the length of your pumping breaks. Some women have had good success with "hands-free" pumping bras that free up your hands for other activities (such as eating your lunch).
The older your baby gets, the number of feedings he or she needs will go down. It may help to use your regular breaks and lunchtime to pump.
Trying to juggle work and pumping can be stressful. Many women find that trying to go from working in a possibly stressful work environment to having only a few minutes to pump to provide that all-important breast milk can cause a high level of anxiety. It is important that the mother is able to relax while she is pumping to help enable the let-down reflex and to empty her breasts as much as possible.
If you are feeling stressed with trying to keep up with pumping while at work, you may be considering stopping breastfeeding altogether. One way to avoid this pitfall is to have open communication with your employer. If you feel that the time you need to pump needs to be modified so that you can have a relaxed environment without such strict time constraints, let your employer know. This is one reason it may be wise to return to work gradually, giving you more time to adjust and minimize the overwhelming stress that might result.