With my first baby, I spent a lot of my maternity leave stressing about how breastfeeding and pumping at work would go. My baby was mainly feeding on demand during the day, cluster feeding in the evenings, and having several feedings overnight – all of which are completely normal for a breastfeeding baby. I went back to work at 12 weeks postpartum and much to my relief, we quickly fell into a routine. I was able to pump at work and breastfeed when I was with the baby. My baby was able to rely just on my pumped milk for her bottles when she was away from me, and we actually never had to use any formula at all. I followed a similar schedule for my second baby as well. Evenings and overnights were sometimes a little different but most days were similar to the schedule I am sharing in this post.
I was blessed in that I had a very supportive boss and work environment for my pumping. I have a private office, and I was able to just close my door when I needed to pump and sometimes keep on working if needed. I know other mamas in other professions will have a harder time with this. There are a ton of great quality wearable pumps these days that can make that at least a little easier though! The pumping schedule below is the routine I followed from when my baby was 3 months, to around 9 months when they were eating solid foods consistently and spreading out their breastfeeding/bottle times a bit.
My breastfeeding and pumping schedule:
7 AM Wake the baby and breastfeed. Take her to the babysitter and head to work.
9:30 AM 1st pump of the day.
12:00 PM Pump during my lunch break.
2:30 PM Last pump of the day.
5:30 PM Get home and breastfeed.
7:30 PM Breastfeed.
9:00 PM Breastfeed and bed.
12:00 AM Woken by the baby to breastfeed and back to bed.
4:00 AM Woken by the baby to breastfeed and back to bed.
I pretty much always pumped at those times while at work but that 7:30 PMish evening breastfeeding time was always generally a flexible comfort/clutster feed where I would whip it out when she was getting fussy. I always would do a feed before bedtime, and I fed overnight when she would wake me to eat. I never woke her for this.
For my 7 AM feed, I would often use my Haakaa silicone pump to catch an extra ounce or two. You use those pumps on the breast you are not nursing on, and it catches your letdown and suctions out some extra milk. Those extra couple of ounces are nice to have! I only used it in the morning though because I was mostly a “just enough” producer, and I knew I had extra milk in the mornings.
When I would pump, I always got the most in the morning and then around the same for the next two pumps. I liked to leave three 4-ounce bottles with the babysitter, and I usually ended up with just enough to send for the next day. If I was a little short, I would add a couple of ounces from the morning Haakaa milk. If I had extra, I would just save it.
I usually preferred to just hack my nursing bra into a pumping bra instead of using a traditional pump bra while I was at the office. It was nice to not have to change bras! I also would sometimes use a wearable pump even though I had privacy. I liked not having to undress.
As my baby got older, I eventually dropped to two pumps a day. This was when the baby was around 9 months, and the baby was consistently only taking two bottles a day while away from me. I dropped to one pump a day when the baby turned one, and then quit pumping completely when the baby was weaned.
It’s best to do the same amount of pumps as feeds your baby is getting even if that means some gaps being shorter and some being longer. For example, I would still try to get three pumps in even if your schedule only allows you to pump at 9 AM, 11 AM, and 2 PM.