Ready or not, you’ve reached the end of your maternity leave and you’re headed back to work. You’ve also made the decision to pump at work and now you need to figure out all the details in order to make this back to work transition as smooth as possible. I’m here to help you have a good idea of everything you’ll need so you can rock pumping at work.

Know Your Pumping Rights

Fortunately, under the Affordable Care Act, the majority of employers are required to offer you a private space to pump. This can’t be a bathroom, but be prepared for it to be a small closet with a chair. You are also allowed “reasonable break time” for pumping. There is no set definition of “reasonable”, but it usually means three half-hour breaks spaced out through the day. Contact your HR team before returning to make sure the pumping room has an electrical outlet and the door locks.

Coordinate Time Slots With Other Moms

If there are other pumping moms at your office, you will probably need to coordinate pumping times with each other so that you can all use the pumping room when you need to.

Once you decide on times that work for you, set up a recurring event on your calendar so that you can’t be scheduled for meetings at those times. You can set the event to just say “Busy” or “Making Food for My Baby” if you feel like being a little sassy.


Pack Your Bag

Make sure to pack your bag with all the essentials before heading out the door so you’ll have everything you need. You can also leave some of these items at your office so that you don’t forget them one day and panic.

  • Your pump, the power cord, and tubing.
  • A small cooler bag. (If you have a shared fridge, you can use this to store your milk without getting shade from co-workers. You should also bring a Ziploc bag so you can throw your pump parts, completely unwashed, into it and then into the fridge between pumping sessions. It’s totally sanitary.)
  • Pump bottles and their lids
  • 2 connectors with their membranes and 1 extra set of membranes
  • 2 flanges
  • A pump battery pack and batteries
  • A bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Breast pads for leaks in between pump sessions
  • Breastmilk Storage bags and a marker for labeling
  • Hands-free pumping bra
  • Water bottle
  • Healthy Snacks
  • Pictures and videos of your baby to help with your let down

Don’t Feel Guilty

Us moms like to beat ourselves up over everything. I know that when I started pumping, I felt guilty that I wasn’t feeding my baby naturally or connecting with him through breastfeeding. It was ridiculous to think that. He is healthy and growing like a weed. He loves taking a bottle and it is so nice that other people can feed him as well. If you ever start feeling guilty, remember that it’s great that you have made the commitment to pump for your baby to keep providing breastmilk. But also remember that your self-care is important too. If you ever start feeling overwhelmed with it all, talk to someone (husband, pumping co-worker, friend) and know that fed is best. Your baby needs a sane mom to take care of them. You’re doing great mama!