From LLL http://www.lalecheleague.org/FAQ/pumpfreq.html
How often will I have to pump when I go back to work?
When you're preparing to return to work, it's hard to predict how often you'll need to pump your breasts to provide milk for your baby. Ideally, you will pump at work as often as you would have breastfed your baby at home. Realistically though, mothers often find that in an eight-hour workday they are able to pump during morning, lunch and afternoon breaks. Since time is in such short supply, using a pump that allows access to both breasts at the same time is a real help. By double pumping, mothers keep their prolactin (an important lactation hormone) level up, and they may be able to pump in 10-15 minutes rather than 20 to 30 minutes. Many mothers find that double pumping, three times a day during the first few months, gives them enough milk to leave for their caregiver for the next day. As the baby gets older and begins eating solids they may not need to pump as frequently.
Pumping can be avoided or reduced if your baby is being cared for at your work place, enabling you to breastfeed during your workday. Some babies begin sleeping more while they are away from you and breastfeeding more when you are together. Gale Pryor, author of Nursing Mother, Working Mother, calls this "reverse cycle breastfeeding". If your baby adopts this pattern, you may be able to eventually pump less when you are away from your baby. Keeping your baby close at night allows your baby unrestricted access to your breasts while you get as much sleep as possible.
Since you will be separated from your baby while you are at work, be sure to breastfeed your baby when you are home-- mornings, evenings, and weekends. It's a great way to keep tuned in and bonded to your baby. Frequent breastfeedings will also help you to maintain your supply.
Going back to work with a new baby, and having to leave that baby, regardless of the feeding method used, is hard. Breastfeeding mothers who are able to pump for their babies have the special satisfaction of knowing that they are providing their priceless milk for their new baby even when they are separated. Pumping or not, at the end of the day it is wonderfully reassuring to reconnect with your baby as you snuggle together and breastfeed.
How Do I Choose a Breast Pump?
When deciding what kind of pump to use or if one is even necessary, it is helpful to consider what your needs will be for expressed milk. Some women find that they never need to use a pump after seeing how easy it is to take a breastfed baby along. Others who will be away from the baby for specific times will need some way to express milk. Many women find it easy to hand express milk when needed.
If you find you do need a pump, there are many different kinds of pumps available. Selecting the best pump can be likened to choosing a handbag--there are many options, and what works for one woman is not necessarily the best option for another. Some considerations when thinking about pumps are cost, portability, noise level, ease of use and efficiency. There are manual (hand operated)pumps ($14-$50) which often are helpful for those who want to pump on an occasional basis to leave milk for baby. Most are easy to operate, are small, and easy to transport. Some require two hands and others operate with only one hand. The "bicycle horn" style manual pump is NOT recommended. There are also small electric pumps ($30-$150) available from different manufacturers. These use batteries or AC adapters to supply the power and are still quite small and portable. Some are quiet and some are not.
When pumping time is limited and larger milk volumes are needed, some women rely on full-size, automatic electric pumps, which have a suck-release cycle that is closer to the pattern of a baby than the continuous suction of the smaller pumps. Many women report they are quite efficient and quiet, although not quite as portable. These are usually rented (although the equipment that attaches the mother to the pump must be purchased) and cost varies. The newer automatic electric pumps designed for mothers who need to regularly pump their milk represent another option. These are quiet to operate, cost over $200 and are listed as single-user pumps by the manufacturers. These come with an attractive carrying case and all the accessories needed to pump both breasts at the same time, and work well for mothers who work outside the home. However, if a mother needs to pump to increase her milk supply, provide milk for a premature baby or other situations where the baby is not breastfeeding to provide stimulation for the motherâs breasts, the hospital-grade rental pumps are the preferred option.
It can be helpful to ask friends whether or not they needed a pump and if they did what kind they used. Inquire what features were found helpful and what could have been better. Please note that most breast pumps are considered "single-user" products, and because of the risk of contamination (there is a chance that milk can be aspirated into the pump mechanism, which cannot be sterilized), should not be borrowed or shared. Manual pumps that can be autoclaved are an exception.
How Can I Make My Return To Work/School Easier?
Leaving your baby to return to work is hard, regardless of the feeding method chosen. Review these tips for making the adjustment easier.
Let your employer know of your pumping needs in advance. This will give you a chance to develop a plan that will work for both of you. Educating your employer about the important health choice you have made and the relatively minor physical accommodations required in the workplace will encourage cooperation. Of course, there are significant employer advantages to continuing breastfeeding once you are back to work. Breastfed babies are half as likely to get sick in the first year of life as those receiving artificial baby milks. If your baby doesn't get sick as often, you will miss less time from work. This is one reason why at least 5 states have enacted legislation to encourage state employees to continue breastfeeding when they return to work.
At home, discuss with your partner who will shop for food, who will cook and when ordering in is appropriate.
Make a list of home responsibilities such as cooking, laundry, housekeeping, shopping and errands.
Determine who is responsible for what. Don't forget childcare responsibilities, including breastfeeding!
Make the first week back to work a short one by returning late in the week.
Do as much as possible the night before such as:
Prepare the diaper bag so you only need to add the milk
Lay out everyone's clothes
Set the breakfast table
Plan and begin the preparation for the next day's dinner.
Use the crockpot for breakfasts and suppers.
Have weekly conferences to see how the family is dealing with this new phase and to resolve difficulties.