Blog Post

Pumping Breast Milk When Away From Your Baby

February 27, 2015

Lorie Peterman, IBCLC, BS
Many mothers worry about having enough breast milk when they return to work and want to get started pumping right away.


Many mothers worry about having enough breast milk when they return to work and want to get started pumping right away. Don’t worry – feeding your baby as often as he or she wants will help build your milk supply the first few weeks. Below are a few common questions many mothers ask when needing to start pumping for work.

What kind of pump should I get?
A double electric pump will help remove more milk than a single pump or manual pump. Many insurance companies reimburse for the purchase of a pump when you are away from your baby.

How soon should I start pumping to prepare for returning to work?
Start pumping one or two weeks before returning to work. Gradually add pump times when you would normally be pumping at breaks during your work day.

How often do I need to pump?
Usually, three times in an eight-hour period is sufficient to provide milk when away from your baby. Feeding more often at home can decrease the amount of milk needed when away as well. Decrease the time away from your baby by feeding just before leaving and as soon as you return. For further information on calculating your estimated pumping frequency, we recommend this online tool to calculate your magic number.

How do I get my milk to “let down” when I am stressed at work?
Bringing pictures of baby or something that reminds you of your baby will help. Massaging your breasts before pumping will also help release the milk. It is also a good practice to manually express after pumping to ensure the breasts are well drained.

How should I store my breast milk?
Breast milk can last six months in the refrigerator’s freezer and twelve months in a deep freezer. If the milk will be used the next day, storing in the refrigerator is fine. It can last as long as four to six days at refrigerator temperature. For long-term storage, it is best to store your breast milk in individual servings in BPA-free containers in the freezer. Store in the back of the freezer to avoid temperature fluctuations.

Please feel free to contact Freeman Lactation Services with any questions or problems. Our services are free and open to everyone – including women who did not deliver their babies at Freeman. Our phone number is 417.347.1067. We are available for outpatient consultations by appointment as well.