Sarah Thijs-Smit Working Mumma podcast

Returning to work after maternity leave marks a significant milestone for many new mothers. For those who choose to continue breastfeeding, this transition can pose unique challenges and require careful planning. I spoke with lactation consultant, Sarah Thijs-Smit and mother of three, on the Working Mumma podcast, we explore practical tips and insights aimed at helping you navigate this journey with confidence.

Importance of Planning Ahead

Preparation is key when it comes to balancing breastfeeding and a return to the workplace. Before your maternity leave ends, initiate a conversation with your employer about your breastfeeding goals. Most workplaces are supportive and willing to provide a private space for pumping, as well as flexible break times. Clear communication early on can help set realistic expectations and ensure a smoother transition. Please note that in Australia, it is a legislative requirement for organisation to provide a space for breastfeeding mothers. For more information and knowing your rights, here is the link to the Fair Work Australia website.

Establishing a Pumping Routine

Maintaining a consistent pumping schedule helps sustain your milk supply while working. Aim to pump at regular intervals throughout the workday, ideally mirroring your baby’s feeding times. This may involve scheduling pumping sessions every 2-3 hours, depending on your baby’s feeding schedule and your comfort level. Setting reminders or alarms on your phone can help you stay on track amidst your daily tasks.

Choosing the Right Breast Pump

Investing in a reliable breast pump that suits your needs is essential. Electric pumps are generally more efficient for regular use, offering adjustable suction levels and faster pumping times. Consider factors like portability, ease of cleaning, and compatibility with pumping accessories such as storage bags and cooler packs. Quality equipment not only enhances your pumping experience but also ensures the safety and freshness of your expressed milk.

Practicing Pumping Techniques

Before your first day back at work, practice using your breast pump at home. This allows you to familiarize yourself with its settings and ensure proper assembly and operation. Experiment with different pumping techniques to find what works best for you in terms of comfort and milk yield. Practicing beforehand can alleviate anxiety and build confidence in your ability to express milk effectively while away from your baby.

Prioritizing Self-Care

Balancing work responsibilities with breastfeeding can be physically and emotionally demanding. It’s crucial to prioritize self-care to maintain your overall well-being and milk production. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, and fuel your body with nutritious meals and snacks. Adequate rest is also vital, so aim to get enough sleep each night and consider incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine.

Embracing Flexibility and Adaptability

Every mother’s breastfeeding journey is unique, and it’s important to approach it with flexibility and adaptability. Be open to adjusting your pumping schedule or methods based on your baby’s changing needs and your work responsibilities. Allow yourself grace during this adjustment period, knowing that it’s okay to seek help or make adjustments as needed to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Incorporating Relaxation Techniques

Managing stress is essential for breastfeeding success. Incorporating relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, or gentle stretching can help reduce tension and promote milk flow. Find moments throughout your day to practice these techniques, whether during a pumping session or during a break at work. Prioritizing your mental and emotional well-being enhances your ability to care for both yourself and your baby.

Monitoring Milk Supply and Storage

Keep track of your milk supply to ensure you’re meeting your baby’s nutritional needs while you’re away. Monitor the volume of milk you pump each day and adjust your pumping schedule or techniques as necessary. It’s essential not to stress too much about the quantity of milk you pump. Unlike direct breastfeeding, which adjusts to the baby’s needs in real-time, pumping can sometimes yield different amounts. Trust your body’s ability to produce milk on demand, and focus instead on creating a comfortable pumping routine. Ensuring you’re relaxed and well-hydrated can make a significant difference in milk output. Remember, every drop counts, and your body will adjust to the pumping schedule over time,

Proper milk storage is also crucial for maintaining freshness and safety. Label and date each container of expressed milk and follow recommended guidelines for storage and thawing to preserve its nutritional value.


Navigating the return to work while breastfeeding requires careful planning, dedication, and support. By prioritizing preparation, establishing a pumping routine, and practicing self-care, you can successfully balance the demands of your career with the joys of breastfeeding. Remember, every mother’s journey is unique, and it’s essential to find what works best for you and your baby. For more tips and insights on breastfeeding and motherhood, listen to our latest podcast episode featuring Sarah, and join our supportive community of working mothers committed to nurturing both their careers and families.

Listen on Apple Podcast or Spotify

Useful resources

Please know that in Australia, there are requirements for all organisations to provide a suitable space for pumping and if required breastfeeding while you are in the office. Here are some links to support you and give you additional information:

RES-Breastfeeding and Work – Your rights at work

Australian Breastfeeding Association – Pumping at work – what do I need? resource

Fair Work Australia – Breastfeeding in the Workplace

Connect with Sarah

Connect with Sarah via Instagram @thebreasthelp


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