I went back to work part-time when my baby was 12 weeks old, and fulltime (4 days a week) around 4.5 months. I pump 2 or 3x a day, my supply hasn't dropped a bit, and I've been able to provide bottles of fresh bm since the day I started working. Plus, I have a very decent freezer stash! No supplemental formula needed.
I was WAY WAY too worried about my supply before returning to work. Hindsight is 20/20, but I caused myself alot of useless stress, when it turned out that I had no problems making enough bottles for her.
A big key for me was supervisor support (so nobody questioned where I was going, or how long I was gone). Also important is having somewhere you're comfortable pumping without getting interrupted. The place I had wasn't great, but it had a plug in and the door locked so at least I knew I wouldn't be disturbed.
What worked great for me was to keep by pump and all bottles in an 18 can cooler with icepacks. It doesn't scream PUMP and let me keep the bottles at my desk so I didn't have to worry about using the communal refrigerator.
I went back to work FT when my DD was 14/15 weeks old. I started off pumping 4 times a day, then slowly went down to 3 times a day when I realized I was getting the same amount of milk.
When she was 5 months old, I dropped to part time, working 3 days a week. I started pumping in the am before going to work, once at around 12, and again at 3. Pumping before leaving the house really helped me get enough milk for her. I would nurse on one side and pump the other (not usually at the same time).
If you see that your output is dropping, or if you're feeling stressed about ounces - RELAX. It will be ok. You will make up the ounces either at home, or the next day. Once AF returned for me, my supply would drop for a few days, and I'd freak out b/c I was so worried I was losing my milk! It wasn't the case.
I kept pumping until DD was 14 months old - and she is now 17 months and still nursing strong!
You can do this!
Carrie SAHM to Nora Caitlyn (5) and Finnley Dax (2) homebirthing, breastfeeding, babywearing, intactivist, doula mama!
As a PP said, a good room in which to pump and support from your company is key. I have the Medela PISA so it has its own bag. I am sure it screams pump, but plenty of other women here pump so that doesn't bother me. I try to pump twice while at work, but I am not always able to. If I pump once I get 8 or 9 oz, if twice at least 12 oz.
you can do it!
Katrina - Mama to Gabriel 11/20/2009 and Norah 10/11/2011- married to Wayne -  and now new baby Theodore born 3/11/13
For the first few weeks back to work, instead of pumping at my planning time someone actually brought the twins to me. I lived local to work and the boys were with family, making that possible.
I pumped for over a year, and while I did experience a dip in supply, it wasn't significant and I was able to keep ahead of their needs. I did make up the difference with evening pumpings, sometimes pumping in the morning if they didn't wake to nurse before I left in the morning.
Good luck! It can be done!
There are four other women in my office who may have children in the next few years and I love that I'm setting a positive example for them by being the first person in my office to pump at work.
Before I left on maternity leave I was sure to tell my boss that I would be pumping when I came back (I didn't ask if it would be okay, just told him!). I asked to use a nice little kitchen area that doesn't get used very often and it's great. There's a sink and a refrigerator and a little table and chairs. I purposely leave the door open while I'm setting everything up and open it again right away while I'm washing and storing everything so that people see what I'm doing. I want to show the other women that it's not something to be embarassed about...hopefully I'll convince a few that it's okay!
Anyway, I had a hard time building up a freezer stash, so that stresses me out a little bit. I tend to pump exactly what dd eats while I'm gone. Every once in a while I can add an ounce or two to the 30 or so that I have in the freezer, but not often. I wonder though if she just eats what is in the bottle and would eat less if there was less in the bottle??? Probably...
I've been working ft for a month, but worked one full day/week for a while.
this is an awesome website: http://www.workandpump.com/
You'll notice you'll start doing very well with it when you develop a routine, pumping at the same time every day.
my dd is 4 months, and i pump 3 times at work and once before i leave home after she eats.
before i went back, i did a "pretend" feeding at night to build a stash, but have since dropped that one.
i like to drink a cup of nursing tea while i pump..
depending on where you work, you may find another mama or two to talk pumping shop with, too..
and don't forget the most wonderful of things-- the rubber band trick...
Is it getting lonely in the echo chamber yet?
Just know that you can do it and try to relax as much as you can while you are pumping. I try to bring a book with me and read while I am pumping so that I am nice and relaxed. I also have a picture of DD in my pump bag and that really helped out at first.
I also pump just twice a day, and was suprised to see my supply steadily increase-- until AF came back this week . you get used to the pump.
Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdad and mom to DS 24 months, and DD 8 months! .