Guide: Nursing 301 – Going back to work

I recall feeling lost at about 12 weeks postpartum as I contemplated on what my “nursing standard operating procedure” should be upon going back to work. My “workflow” evolved over time so the purpose of this post is to share my “SOP” with you.

Good to knows:
1. You will need to pump in 3-4 hourly intervals if you want to maintain your supply. I’ve mistakenly told my friend in the beginning that it’s possible to “regulate” your body to pump once a day at work and get the same yield but I realised that when your child is about 1 year old, the supply drops very fast if you pump only once in the work day. Of course, it might be me feeling stressed at work so it’s hard to tell whether it was the pump frequency too.

2. If you’re not squeamish about having an oily and cold breastshield against your boobs, it’s actually not necessary to wash the breastshield after pumping in the office. What I do is that I protect the flanges with cling wrap then pop them into a ziploc bag and then into the fridge, then take them out to use for the next pump in the office. Breastmilk is actually sterile that’s why this can be done. I did that for a year and Baby E never suffered from diarrhoea from 6m-18m.

3. Being paranoid about ink seeping through the milk bag or bottle, I used post it notes to write dates and paste them on bottles or milk bags but that was messy coz they’ll drop off at times. During my pumping days, I’ve noticed a mum who bought those small circular stickers and just write the date on those and pasted them on her milk bags. Was blown away by how ingenious that was.

The following was my SOP:
6am Wake up to wash up
6.30am Morning pump using one set of flanges, rinse with water and leave them in a box next to the sink (I dropped this pump after Baby E turned 10months)
7.00am Clean up and change
7.30am Wake the kid up and clean her up, bring into infant care
11am First pump in office using another set of flanges, pop flanges into fridge when done
3.30pm Second pump in office using same flanges as 11am (I dropped this pump after Baby E turned 13 months)
8pm Wash both sets of flanges, milk bottles and sterilise them

As mentioned in my previous posts, I eventually bought another pump and left one in the office so that I didn’t have to shuttle my pump to and fro because it was difficult to carry Baby E, her school stuff, my work stuff, cooler bag and pump all at once. We don’t own a car so we travel by public transport. The initial month of shuttling my pump to and fro totally killed my shoulders.

The following were equipment that I invested in in order to facilitate my workflow:
1. 2 sets of breastpumps
2. 2 sets of flanges
3. Extra bottles and milk storage bags
4. Clingwrap (I used the NTUC Homeproud brand because it’s less clingy)
5. Ziploc bags (I migrated to using a reusable wet bag to contain my flanges when I dropped to one pump later on just for cost saving and environment saving purposes)
6. Cooler bag and cooling blocks (The budget way is to get these from Daiso)

When I initially thought about my workflow, I wanted to get a box that can fit my flanges but am thankful that I never came across a right sized one. It wasn’t feasible to transport the bulky box around and it would never have fit into the nursing room fridge. Ziplocs are easier just not as environmentally friendly unfortunately.

Just talking about this now makes it look easy, but it was an arduous task getting up to pump, washing all those equipment (Kudos to the husband!) and trying to maintain a supply amidst work stress. So hang in there mummies!


Update on 27 July 2017: New guidelines were issued to encourage mums to wash pump parts after every pump after a premie baby died because the mum did not scrub the pump parts after using them. So guidelines discourage the practice of putting parts in fridge. Context can be found here:



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