Back to Work Timeline
Birth – 4 weeks, get a strong start
Your primary focus in the first month is making sure breastfeeding is comfortable and effective, whether or are nursing, pumping or both. It is not your focus to be collecting or storing milk for your return to work.
2-6 weeks after birth, practice
- Practice pump for an occasional bottle
- Practice the paced bottle feeding method and get accustomed to how easily your baby takes a bottle. If you are finding your baby is struggling with taking a bottle, plan to offer daily or multiple time a week to maintain the bottle feeding skill.
4-6 weeks before you return to work, start building your work stash
- Start filling your freezer by pumping about 15 minutes after completing a morning breastfeeding session. Store in one, two, or three ounce portions so you can mix and match
1-2 weeks before your return, practice
- Schedule a half and a full practice day. Schedule one with a partner and one with your childcare provider if possible.
- Send a work email. Let the appropriate people know that you are looking forward to returning ;), that you will be pumping and that you just want to know where the best place will be for you to pump. If you don’t get the right answer (i.e. “The bathroom should work for you, right?”) send an email to HR asking the same question. If you have an idea of where you could pump, add that to the email.
- Have a practice day with a breastfeeding support partner. Plan time away from the baby for 4-6 hours. Ideally, do something alone or with a friend. Do something enjoyable or necessary. Have your care provider give baby a bottle in place of a nursing feeding cycle session. Practice one pump session to replace this missed nursing feeding cycle.
- Have a practice day with childcare provider. Baby spends a part-time day at daycare before you return to work. You’ll spend this time preparing yourself for your return to work; baby will spend this time acclimating to the new childcare provider.
Your first week back, ease in
- Ease in if you can. Start on a Wednesday or make a few half days if your schedule permits. Work a half day. Give yourself as much space as you can to adjust to this new rhythm.
- Fake it ‘til you feel it
The first six weeks can be a really difficult adjustment. Eat well, get as much rest as possible, keep extra commitments to a minimum, and most importantly, be kind to yourself!