Friday, September 6, 2013

When do you stop pumping milk at work?

A while back I wrote about pumping milk at work and the other day I got an email from a reader asking me the following:

Hi Babyattachmode,

I came across your blog while looking for some guides to breastfeeding and pumping at work. I am about to go back to work as a postdoc, and I'm wondering whether it is possible to not pump at work at all and will my milk supply go down if I skip my work pump. Any advice is appreciated!

Best [anonymous]

Even though I’m not a lactation consultant, I do have some experience and heard a lot of advice and experiences from women around me, so I told her this:

It really depends on the age of your baby and on your supply. For most women, their milk supply starts to be stable between 9 months and a year. So if you baby is older than 9 months, I think you should be okay not pumping at work and just nursing him at home. However, if your baby is younger than that, I think not pumping will affect your supply and it's up to you how much you don't want that. If you're okay with your supply dropping and slowly moving over to formula, then you can do it and any breastmilk he gets from you is something of course! However, if you plan to nurse longer and your baby is younger than 9 months, I wouldn't advice not pumping at work.
Another thing to consider is your own comfort. When I stopped pumping when my son was 1 year, I still got pretty engorged at the end of a workday and had my handpump in my office to relieve the pressure on days when it got too bad. I'm sure my breasts could not have handled an 8+ hour workday without pumping in the first year, but I know this is different for different women too.
A last thing to add is that for me, pumping was not that much work. It's another thing to add to your routine, but I was usually done within 15 minutes per session, and I pumped twice a day. I had an extra set of tubing and breastshields so that I didn't have to wash those in between pumping sessions for example.

To which she replied that her baby was 9 months and that she had pumped twice daily since she went back to work when her baby was 2 months.
So I told her:

When your baby is already nine months, you're likely going to be okay not pumping and continuing to nurse. I dropped one pumping session at 9 months and the other at 12, but you might be okay just not pumping during the day. Just see how it goes and if your supply drops dramatically you can always decide to continue pumping for a couple more weeks/months and then try again. For a while I pumped during breakfast to have an extra bottle and leave home with empty breasts for the day (especially when BlueEyes decided not to nurse a lot in the morning).

I thought I'd post this conversation on my blog too, as it might be helpful to others too!


  1. I pumped regularly 2-3x/day until a year with both of my children. At a year I figured the baby could get cow milk if I couldn't make enough to replace what ze drank at daycare. Neither of them actually started cow milk at daycare at that time, but DC1 gradually phased it in over the next 6 months. I stopped pumping entirely for DC1 when my pump broke for the second time. I'm hoping to keep pumping at least some that long for DC2 as well.

    With DC1 I had to pump at breakfast just to get 2oz. My supply has been bigger with DC2 but I'm also teaching an 8am class and she eats at 6 or 7, so that's not going to happen.

    1. I am also pumping 2x a day while at work. I tried to pump only once, but my milk supply went way down after a week. At my work all the people have already had babies so I feel they have forgotten how hard it can be for a new mom to take the time out of work to pump. I was told I am setting the platform because all either have older children or are in their 20 and are about to have children. I have ran into a few frustrating comments and am trying to keep myself breastfeeding until 1 year. Roxi is 6 months, so I am almost there:)