Breastfeeding to Pumping – How to Transition Tips

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For many mothers, the question of how to transition from breastfeeding to pumping can be a frustrating one. Moms who have to go back to work can often feel pressured to rush the process, which can heighten their anxiety. In turn, pumping becomes even more difficult. If this is you, then let’s just take a breath, relax, and start this thing from the beginning.

Supplies Needed for Pumping Breast Milk

Breastfeeding to Pumping - How to Transition Tips

Transitioning from breastfeeding to pumping your breast milk will be much smoother if you have prepared ahead of time. Purchasing your pumping supplies before the baby is born is a great way to stay ahead of things. Once the baby comes, a simple trip to shop for supplies will become a bit more complicated.

First of all, you will need a breast pump. Don’t skimp on this. You may choose a manual breast pump or an automatic one, but be sure that it is a good quality product. You want to be comfortable and not have to struggle with the pump while you’re trying to learn how to use it, or on those nights when you’re just tired and don’t feel like fighting to get enough milk. 

If you plan to pump both at work and at home, you might want to buy two pumps and avoid having to remember to bring one back and forth every day. You will also want to get some extra parts for your pump. Additional flanges and other pieces will help out when you don’t want to wash them in the bathroom sink in the workplace.

A hands-free pumping bra can also come in handy. The pump fits inside of your bra, freeing your hands to hold your baby or take care of other things. If your job is at a discreet location, you could even use this while working. Breast shells are also available that catch leaks between feedings, which can help you avoid embarrassing messes.

You also need to be sure that you will have access to a refrigerator at work to store your milk in during the day. Make sure to clearly label your milk to avoid embarrassing accidents. The CDC has recommendations on how to properly store breast milk that you may want to check out

Working moms will also need to wear clothes that can easily be pushed aside when it is time to pump. Having to completely undress for every session at the job can aggravate and be time-consuming. It is also a good idea to take an extra outfit and leave it at work in case you spill some.

When Should I Transition from Breastfeeding to Pumping?

That’s a great question; I’m glad you asked. For the mom who doesn’t immediately have to go back to work, it is usually recommended to begin pumping at six weeks old. This gives you time to bond with your little one and get the hang of breastfeeding before you have to transition.

For moms who have to be away from their baby sooner than 6 weeks, you can still do this! Pumping breastmilk for your baby is a beautiful way to ensure that they get the nutrients that only you can give, even when you can’t be there. Experts say that the primary key to success is setting realistic goals and being easy on yourself.

It is essential that you prepare and begin to pump before it becomes necessary. Waiting until it is time to go back to work before starting will only cause added stress. You need to have a plan for how you intend to pump and all of the supplies that you will need. As mentioned, it’s best to purchase these before the baby is born.

By the time you return to the workplace, you should be very comfortable with the entire process and confident that you can pump enough to supply your baby when you can’t be there. This requires you to practice well ahead of your return to work date.

Experts also recommend that you begin letting your baby practice early as well. Once your child has learned to breastfeed, the bottle can take a bit of getting used to. While some doctors recommend that babies start drinking breastmilk from a bottle as early as four to six weeks old, you may need to start earlier if you plan on going back to work sooner.

You may also want to mention to your boss that you will be pumping milk for your baby throughout the day. Let them know what they can expect, and be sure to mention that breastfeeding moms who have the support of their employers tend to take fewer sick days, and healthcare costs may even be lowered. The US Department of Health and Human Services has resources to help your employer to understand what to expect.

How Often Should I Pump Breast Milk?

You should pump once or twice a day in the beginning, for about 15 minutes at a time. You can gradually move up to more sessions per day at 20 minutes per session once you get the hang of it. Don’t be alarmed if the amount of milk you see is small at first. Your body will produce more significant amounts as your baby’s demand grows and you pump more often. 

As you begin to transition, it is best to pump for about half an hour after breastfeeding your baby. This allows your baby’s needs to come first as you learn how to pump and lets you continue to breastfeed as usual. Some new moms also pump one breast while the baby nurses the other. This works well since breastfeeding on one side often triggers a “milk letdown” on the other.

You may find that your most productive pump will be first thing in the mornings. This is when many moms note that they produce more milk. If you are concerned that you aren’t getting enough milk with regular pumping, see if an early morning session is beneficial.

You will need to pump every two or three hours once you completely stop breastfeeding, so be sure to work that out in your schedule. Regular pumping helps encourage the flow of milk by preventing the buildup of a protein known as FIL that regulates production. It also helps to keep your milk ducts and nipples flushed, averting clogs or blockages.

Why is Breast Milk so Important?

Breastfeeding to Pumping - How to Transition Tips
Feeding Baby Care Breastfeeding Breast Milk Child

According to the CDC, only 1 in 4 babies are exclusively breastfed. Many moms quit early for several reasons, including issues with latching on, worries over the baby’s weight, medications that the mother takes, a nonsupportive boss, lack of family support, or hospital policy that doesn’t encourage breastfeeding. So, why jump through those hurdles to pump your milk?

Giving your baby breast milk only has a highly positive effect on their health and well-being. It is believed that more than $3 billion could be saved in US medical costs for mothers and babies if more moms chose to breastfeed. 

There are many benefits for both mother and child. For example, babies who are fed breast milk have a lower chance of getting asthma, suffering from obesity, having type 1 diabetes, contracting severe lower respiratory disease, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome, and gastrointestinal infections, just to name a few. Moreover, breastfeeding moms have a lower chance of high blood pressure, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and type 2 diabetes. 

It is well-known that breast milk contains colostrum, which is full of antibodies known as immunoglobulins. This protein allows a nursing mother to pass her immunities to her child. In addition, colostrum forms a protective layer over the nose, throat, and digestive system of babies, protecting them from viruses and bacteria. Meanwhile, the mother’s body produces additional antibodies and passes them on through her milk.

It simply is not possible to replicate that protection in baby formula, and even breast milk from another mom doesn’t protect your baby as well as your own. Your milk can literally help protect your child against everything from the common cold to childhood leukemia. Knowing this definitely makes it worth all of the work.


Transitioning from breastfeeding to pumping can seem overwhelming at first, but as with anything new, practice makes it much more manageable. Knowing the benefits for both you and your baby can help make your decision to breastfeed and the choice to pump milk a more solid one. 

It is best to be prepared for pumping even before the baby has been born so that there are no surprises when the time comes to start transitioning. Be sure to start pumping early, long before it is time to return to work. So that by the time it is a necessity, you are already a pro. Don’t stress over the amount of milk or the time it takes to complete a session. The most important thing is to relax and let your body do the work. 

I hope this article helps you in making this vital transition. Please feel free to browse this site for more informative articles for breastfeeding moms!


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