6 Tips for Heading Back to Work as a Nursing Mom

Tips and hacks to ease the transition.


Heading back to work after having a baby is difficult for many new parents, and especially if you’re nursing. There are many ways to ease the transition, while maintaining your feeding schedule. We spoke with working & breastfeeding expert, Jessica Shortall, who shares tips from her new book, Work. Pump. Repeat., to help you bridge the gap of being a new nursing mom at work.

Pumping breastmilk at work is hard and sometimes awkward. Luckily, working moms are amazing, and the millions of women who have gone before you have developed some awesome (and sometimes hilarious) hacks to make this crazy journey a little easier.

1. Forgot a pump bottle (or both)? You can use clean coffee cups to catch milk. Wash with soap and hot water, or put a couple of ounces of water into each mug (ceramic, not plastic!), cover with a saucer, and microwave for a minute to steam-clean. You can also Scotch-tape Ziploc bags or breastmilk storage bags to your pump parts.

2. Forgot breast pads? If you’re newly back at work, you’re probably leaking, and you do not need Tim from Accounts Payable asking you why your shirt is wet. Cut a pantyliner in half – it even has adhesive! Just make sure it is fragrance-free so you don’t get a rash.

3. Need ice to keep milk cool on a flight or long car ride? Fill empty breastmilk storage bags with ice, or throw a water bottle in the freezer.

4. Tired of spilling that liquid gold milk when you pour it from your pump bottles to storage bags? Those funnel-shaped horns on your pump are well funnels! Take one off and use it for a clean pour.

5. Pumping in a bathroom stall? This is going to happen to you if you travel for work, and for some working women it’s a daily reality, like it or not. Keep a pack of Post-It Notes in your pump bag, and put one over the toilet’s auto-flush sensor so it doesn’t flush on your butt while you’re pumping. Or hang your pump bag on the door hook and stand to pump.

6. Pressed for time? (Hint: You will be.) Don’t bother washing your pump parts in between pumping sessions. You can throw them, milk droplets and all, into a large Ziploc bag, and into the fridge. It’s sanitary, and lactation-consultant-approved! Put the Ziploc in an opaque bag if you’re using a shared office fridge and don’t feel like hearing about it from co-workers. The pump horns will be refreshing (that means cold) next time around, but sometimes that can be nice when you have sore boobs!

Most importantly, whatever you do, and however this journey ends up for you, you are an awesome mom. Working AND mothering AND breastfeeding is crazy hard work, and, like most things in parenting, it doesn’t work out perfectly for everyone who attempts it. But please be kind to yourself, and remember this: your worth as a mother is not measured in ounces.


Image via Jessica Shortall