Expressing & Pumping

Although you don't need any equipment to breastfeed your baby, hand expression and pumping are important options for you if you have to be separated from your baby during a time when you would normally be breastfeeding, such as work or school.

Hand Expression

Your life will get a lot easier once you learn how to massage and compress your breast with your hands to remove milk. Click here to learn more.


A good quality electric breast pump that expresses milk from both breasts at the same time is the best option for quickly pumping milk during the workday. Ask your WIC peer counselor which pump is best for you.

Find a Private Area

Work with your supervisor to find a private place to pump. If there is not already a dedicated lactation room, you may need to identify a temporary area, such as an employee office, a conference room, or an unused closet or storage area.

If you are returning to school instead of work, ask about using the guidance counselor's office for pumping. The nurse's office can be busy and many of the private areas will be occupied by sick students.

Why not a bathroom?

• Even when they “look” clean, they can still be unsanitary.

 Limited access to electrical outlets.

 It is difficult, if not impossible, to manage a pump in a toilet stall.

 Bathrooms are generally high traffic areas.

Be Consistent

Set up a schedule. The number of times you express milk at work should be equal to the number of feedings your baby has while you are away. If expressing breast milk does not work during your break time, consider other options to make up missed time (e.g., coming in early, staying late).

During the first months, babies need to be breastfed 8-12 times a day. The number of feedings may decrease as your baby gets older and you begin to introduce solids.


Try shorter milk expression periods in the morning and afternoon (around five minutes) for quick relief of overfull beasts and a longer milk expression period during your lunch break (around 15 minutes).

Time It Right

Example of a possible pumping/hand expression schedule:

8:00 am - Begin work.

9:45 am - 10:00 am - Express milk during your break.

12 Noon - Express milk during your lunch.

2:30 pm - 2:45 pm - Express milk during your break.

5:00 pm - Leave work.