How can I help you pump effectively and quickly at work?

Life can feel extremely unfair sometimes. After carrying your baby in your belly for nine months you finally get to meet your baby. Then, after a few weeks of bonding, your maternity leave comes and goes. It all culminates to that moment when you separate from your baby for the first time.

Are you dreading it? Yes, I am talking about going back to work 

Going back after maternity leave is difficult and despairing. 

The last thing you want to do is prepare to pump at work. It can be a drag.

I can help you by making sure you do not make the same milk spilling mistakes I made by sharing my life’s lessons on how to be prepared to pump at work. I want to make sure when you go back to work and need to pump you are ready. It can be overwhelming, so read on!

I spent weeks perfecting my pumping routine. Maybe even longer!

I actually spent my first day back at work in my pumping room for almost 2 hours because I could not figure out how to use the Medela Pumping Bags! I had also never used my pumping bra either so I had to learn that. I was also nervous for some reason. I let the pressure of getting back to work mess with my head.

Since figuring out the pumping bag was one of my biggest struggles here is how to set up your Medela Pumping Bag (instead of pumping into a bottle):

My first day back was tough. Plus I was going through emotional turmoil being away from my baby for the first time. A lot is going on your first day back at work, so do not worry if it’s not this great comeback. Or if you make mistakes or forget something. But do your best not to forget your pumping equipment because having full breasts is painful.

I can’t ensure that you will be able to get your milk flowing fast – but with some proven practices I can enable you to get your supplies organized, set up quickly and pumping efficiently at work!

Heads up! This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission.

List of supplies if you are pumping from both breasts on a Medela Pump:

Non Pumping Items

  • Tote bag – for clothes/snacks/pump
  • Insulated lunch bag – for small parts and milk
  • Hands free pumping bra – I used the Medela Easy Expression Bustier Hands Free Breastmilk Pumping Bra (affiliate link) it worked great!
  • Comfy pants and shirt – especially if you wear dresses
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Ice packs – keep milk cold on way home
  • Clorox Wipes – disinfect the area
  • Nursing pads – I used both disposable and cloth
  • Ziploc Bag – to hold dirty parts

Pumping Items

  • Breast Pump and plug – I had the Medela Pump In Style Advanced and a starter kit
  • 2 Breast shields
  • 2 Breast shield connectors
  • 2 Tubing
  • 2 Membranes
  • 2 Valves
  • 2 Bottles
  • Medela Pump and Save Breast Milk Bags- instead of bottles good for freezing


  • Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump and Accessory Wipes
  • Snacks and water
  • Phone, tablet or book – for entertainment
  • Soap – to clean the parts

Before going back to work

If you are going to have your baby drinking your breast milk while you are out, you should be familiar with pumping. But if you have been focused on breastfeeding (which is difficult in itself) practice your pumping as soon as you can.

At the very least get familiar with how to set up your machine. Become acquainted with all the parts, how they connect and make sure you have all the materials you need to pump. Below is a list of materials I created for you.

In the morning (or evening) make sure all of your parts are packed up and cleaned thoroughly. Pack your bags, I had two bags at all times:

1) Tote Bag to store at your desk:

To carry your clothes, snacks, phone, pump, tubes, bags, wipes, paper towels etc.

2) Insulated Lunch Bag to store in refrigerator after pumping:

Small pumping parts, bottles, and milk

    Setting up to pump quickly & efficiently

    Assuming you have a staging area and an area to pump – here is the best order and way to get set up! I broke it down into three parts. But first things first, clean all the areas with Clorox wipes and wash your hands!

    #1 Pumping Station

    #2 Pumping Staging Area

    #3 Yourself


    Let’s get started…

    #1 Pumping Station

    The first thing I like to do is get some paper towels on my pumping table and my pump machine plugged in and the tubing plugged into the machine. I like to do this first because I wash my hands again before I touch my actual pumping hardware. I also like to turn the pump on to let any condensation get pumped out.

    I also set up my water, snacks, and phone so they are good to go when I am ready to start pumping.


    #2 Pumping Staging Area

    If possible, wash your hands again one more time because now you are going to be touching the smaller parts.

    Then place a paper towel on the table and lay out all of your pumping parts – you should have them disassembled from cleaning them at home. Assemble them all together with the exception of the shields.

    #3 Yourself

    Once everything is assembled, get your pumping bra on and other clothes if you change. It’s good to have a change of clothes so you do not dirty your work clothes, or in order to be more comfortable. I like to put on my pumping bra last, just in case someone walks in or needs something. This way I am not hanging out with just a pumping bra on. Get your breast shield into your bra and connect it to your bag or bottle

    Warning: You may leak after you put on the pumping bra, so get connected to your bag or bottle fast!

    After you are done getting everything ready, head over to your pumping station and plug in the tubes. Then get pumping! Start the pump slowly and increase it to where you are comfortable.

    This is the part where you relax, drink water, eat your snack and watch Frasier.

    Post Pumping

    Once you are done pumping, I usually stopped when I filled up my bottles or bags (although there were times when I needed to just put another bottle on and keep pumping) secure your milk! Detach yourself from the tubes and leave the machine pumping to get the condensation out.

    It is important to let the condensation out because if it stays in there you can get mold. This is precautionary so it does not happen.

    Warning: Do not spill your milk!

    Whatever you do secure your milk as best as you can. Put your top on it or seal it as quickly as you can. Do not even risk it dropping or splashing – that will just make you cry!

    Once your milk is secure and stored in your insulated bag with ice packs, remove all the equipment and put it back on your paper towel, then get dressed.

    Once you are dressed, get your equipment rinsed and cleaned. When I knew I had to pump again, I would use the wipes to clean the equipment. If I knew I was done pumping for the day, I would just rinse and clean everything at home.

    From there you can pack up and get going back to your office. Get your insulated lunch bag into a refrigerator.

    Heading home

    Do not forget your milk at work, you are going to freeze that milk! Or use it, but you do not want to keep it in the refrigerator for too long.

    Milk can last in the refrigerator for a few days, but you want to freeze it as soon as you can. Plus, if you are keeping it in a refrigerator at work, that can be weird having a surplus of your milk in there.

    And do not forget your pumping parts at work! You will need to clean them and get them ready for the next day. It is just easier to clean them at home.

    Make sure you have your insulated lunch bag ready with ice packs to transport your milk home.

    I was lugging so much stuff around daily, so I would leave the tote bag behind with my bras, clothes, and pump; then would take it home at the end of the week to wash and repack. It made things much easier. Now if you still have to pump at home leave whatever you can behind.

    Final thoughts

    The more you prepare ahead of time, the more successful you will be pumping at work!

    When you have all your supplies and approach it in an organized manner pumping at work can be less stressful and more enjoyable. In fact, after a while, I really started looking forward to my pumping time. Sometimes I would FaceTime my husband or watch Frasier on Hulu. Sometimes just being alone to reflect and think about my baby was just what I needed.

    That is why you need to make your pumping time special. Take a snack like hummus or yogurt and just enjoy yourself. At home you know you will not have time to relax with a baby and at work, there is always something going on. You can make this your me time. Make your space comfortable, get yourself comfortable. It’s what some people call, ‘an on-campus vacation.’

    Having your breasts fill up during the day at work is uncomfortable. Pumping or feeding your baby is the only relief, which is why it should be a priority for you. From experience, you can pump multiple times a day and STILL be full when you get home. Your body’s main goal is to take care of your baby, so it is vital to take care of your body.

    Did I forget a step? Or do you have a recommendation? Or did you follow my steps and pumped successfully at work? Let me know in the comments or find me on social media. I really want to hear from you, let me know and happy pumping!

    This related post has more information on how to go about pumping at work: The Working Mom’s Breastfeeding at Home & Pumping at Work Schedule 

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