Mothers can prepare to return to work by being organized and planning a gradual transition back to work. Ideally, new mothers need at least 6-12 weeks of maternity leave to recover from childbirth and to establish a good milk supply. When a woman is not able to take this time, employer support can help her transition back to work so she can maintain her milk supply. This gradual easing back into the workplace allows time for her to adjust to her body’s changing needs.

Transition options include:

■ Part-time employment or telecommuting for a few weeks before resuming full-time work;
■ Working longer hours 4 days of the week and taking off in the middle of the work week to allow a day to rebuild milk supply by being with the baby;
■ Returning to work on a Thursday or Friday to allow for the quick weekend to rebuild milk supply before facing an entire week of separation from the baby; or
■ Job-sharing, which research shows can be highly effective for both employees and the employer.

Time to Express Milk:

Many employers are surprised to discover that the amount of time a woman needs to express milk is usually handled easily during the regular allowable break times. Women typically require two to three pumping sessions of around 15 minutes each, not counting time to go to and from the lactation room. As the baby grows and becomes older, pumping sessions often become less frequent. Women should discuss with their supervisors whether the current break schedule is sufficient. Employer flexibility, which allows for the mother to make up the time before or after work can help make this transition easier.

It is more efficient for women to simply feed their infants directly. This can work well if the company provides onsite childcare, if the childcare provider is able to bring the baby to the mother during the work period, or if the company allows the employee to bring her infant to work for the first few months.

Medela Symphony is a great hospital grade pump that moms can rent. This is a very comfortable pump and can be used to express your milk while you are separated from your baby.

Medela Pump In Style ( which All About Breastfeeding sells at a great price), is a single user pump that is also quite comfortable and can be used to express your milk while you are separated from your baby.

The Medela Symphony is highly recommended if you are trying to build your supply, have a low supply or if your baby is not breastfeeding well. If you are having breastfeeding challenges, you should consider a visit with an IBCLC to help you work through the challenges and fix breastfeeding.

If you are preparing to return to work soon, please keep in mind that it is helpful to begin pumping and storing your milk about 2 weeks before your planned return to work. Some mothers feel they need to have a freezer full of pumped milk. This is not necessary and you should not stress yourself out trying to accomplish this goal.

What you do need is 1 full days supply stored, plus 2-3 more bottles, for those times when you might be running late getting home from work. Each day that you are at work and separated from your baby, you will be pumping several times a day. This pumped milk will be for your baby the next day. Mondays milk is pumped for Tuesday. Tuesdays milk is pumped for Wednesday. Fridays milk is pumped for Monday.

If you would like to have extra milk, you can always pump on the weekends and store in the freezer. As a mother who knows how precious the first few weeks/months are, I would really want you to enjoy the time breastfeeding and enjoying your baby. If you are so focused on pumping and spending a lot of time doing so, you may miss quiet and relaxed time with your baby the first months. As in most things in life, it is helpful to find balance. Give yourself a little time and you will find your balance.