I know how you must be feeling right now. Maternity leave is quickly coming to a end and you will soon be returning to the working field. Its not easy leaving your baby, you feel like you haven't had enough time to adjust to your new roll as mom and that you and baby were just getting into a routine. Its safe to say that once you return to work you will quickly adjust to your new daily routine, pumping. First let me congratulate you for getting this far. Nursing is not an easy task and some woman encounter many different difficulties that prohibit them from being able to nurse their baby so being at this point is a pretty big accomplishment if you ask me. Now you've had a few weeks to establish your milk supply and typically your body knows just the right amount to produce for baby so once you head back to work and get on a set pumping schedule you should be able to keep your milk supply to precisely what baby needs while you're away.
There are a few things you will need before actually heading back into work.
There are a few different kinds of pumps that you have to choose from including manual , electric and battery operated. Most manual pumps are single pumps meaning you only express milk from one breast at a time, electric and battery operated are usually double pumps. Along with the different types of pumps there are different brands, Medela, Lansinoh, Ameda and Avent are a few of the popular ones. Make sure you research the type of pump you think you would be most comfortable with, after all you will be spending a great deal of time using it.
These are sterilized bags to store your breastmilk in for optimum freshness. These are great for both fridge and freezer storage. There is a spot for your child's name, the date, volume, and time that you pumped the milk so that it will be easy for you to follow breastmilk storage guidelines. Some woman use a funnel to transfer their milk to make sure that they do not spill any, (this is liquid gold we are talking about here) but just pouring it into the bag works just as well. Once you have transferred your milk you want to make sure you zip the bag completely. My first day back at work I didn't zip the bag all the way closed and lost 7 ounces (ouch).
Your new breast pump should come with a tote bag to store all of your pumping equipment in but if it doesn't it is important to have one. I received one with my pump but ended up using a cute thirty one bag I got as a gift. Whatever type of bag you choose to use just make sure that it is big enough to fit everything that you may need.
This is optional but when I got my diaper bag it came with a "bottle bag" that was insulated and I thought that this would be great to use while at work. Once I was done transferring my milk into the storage bags I would put my milk in this and then store it in the fridge at work, it was easy to just grab and go at the end of the day.
Hands Free Pumping Bra
These are amazing! If you have an electric pump this is something that you could use. It gives you the option to do other things while you are pumping like read a book, finish a written report for work, or check your emails. You can purchase these from a retail store or even cut holes in a old sports bra, this is what I did and it worked wonderfully!
A few other things to think about would be extra pump parts these are not a necessity but will definitely help cut down on your rinse/wash time everyday. I would also highly suggest a sign to put on the door of your pumping area, a do not disturb sign would work. That is what I used after being walked in on twice my first week back, yeah that was just a little embarrassing but I haven't had any issues since putting up a sign during each pumping session.
If you haven't already mentioned to your supervisor that you will be pumping at work I suggest that you have the conversation before you go back. They will then have time to prepare a comfortable area for you to pump in as well as time to plan for who will cover your tasks while your away during that time. You will want to stick to a schedule, for example I would pump every three hours for about 15 minutes. By the time I was finished rinsing pump parts I would be away from my desk for about 20 minutes and I would punch out during that time. All companies are different so you will want to find out if that is something you will need to do.
Some days you are going to feel like pumping is all you do and it can even feel like an inconvenience but I promise you that it is all worth it. You are producing and supplying nourishment for your child and that is such an amazing thing. Don't let all of this overwhelm you once you get in a routine and follow a schedule you will be a pro!