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Pumping and storing for returning to work

Last Modified: August 31, 2020

Women & Children

pumping for return to work

As we wrap up our series of posts for National Breastfeeding Month, we asked Angela Swanson BSN, RN, IBCLC, lactation consultant, Parkview Huntington Family Birthing Center to highlight the best ways to pump and store milk for those returning to work.

It’s best to start a pumping regimen that is realistic for a new mom. If you try to pump too often it can feel overwhelming. After delivery, it’s best to wait until you feel like things are going well before starting a pumping schedule. That might be two weeks for one mom, but one month for another. If you have not begun by one month, I would suggest starting within that timeframe. The further out from delivery you are, the harder it may be to train your body to produce more milk. 

The one and done method

The “one and done” method is a great way to get milk stocked up in your freezer. The “one and done” technique consists of feeding your baby in the morning, then pumping both breasts. That’s it! Try to stick to roughly the same time per day, but remember, it doesn’t have to be exact. Anytime between 7:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. or 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. is close enough. Also, don’t expect to pump enough for an entire feeding in that one pumping session. It may take several days to accumulate enough for one feeding. Know that that’s okay and completely normal. Remember, your body is efficient and only wants to produce what you need. If you keep your pumping schedule daily, soon you will have enough for an entire day. 

How to store your milk

Be sure to store the expressed milk in a clean breastmilk storage bag, food-grade glass or hard plastic container. If you’re using plastic, make sure the storage container is BPA free. Try storing the milk in small increments, so there’s less waste. Some great storage containers on the market will let you store your milk in one-ounce increments. It looks like an ice cube tray with a lid. These are great options that will not only allow you to save money but also eliminating waste. Finally, be sure to label any milk with the date and time you pumped it so you can always use the oldest milk first.

milk storage



IABLE.  (2016, July). Breastfeeding and Working. Retrieved July 8, 2020 from

Murray, D., RN, BSN, & Shur, M., MD. (2020, April 20). The Best Breast Milk Freezer Storage Trays of 2020. Retrieved July 8, 2020, from

Storing Human Milk. (2019, October 13). Retrieved July 8, 2020, from

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