Pumping to 1 year: Tips & a Cost Analysis from a Working Mom Who Did It

August is National Breastfeeding Month and well, here we are at Trent being just over 1 year old and I am so happy to report that we were able to breastfeed/pump the entire year – Woot!

But I will say this…it wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine happiness. In the beginning, it hurt like hell. My milk came in around the day we got home from the hospital and it was torture, mostly because it was new to me and I didn’t know what to expect. Then, every time he needed to eat for at least the first week, I would cringe knowing the initial pain I was about to go through. Enough so that I had recalled a friend telling me about some “prescription” cream that only one pharmacy in our city carried that would help and decided I MUST.HAVE.IT.

I say “prescription” because insurance doesn’t cover it and I don’t even know what it is…it was some gel-like cream that the pharmacist made himself. I had to call my doctor and get a nurse to call it in, so I did need a prescription per se, but when I got there, I was told I had to pay out of pocket…$48 bucks. Ouch. Even worse was that I used it for a week or two and then didn’t need it any more because the pain went away. Worth the money? I’m not so sure, but I am glad the pain went away.

Medela Pump

I’ll also never forget a few low points along the way.

One night, I had just nursed as long as possible and yet he was still crying like he was hungry. I had just gone back to work and was pumping during the day and nursing in the evening. It was in the evening, and for the few days prior it was non-stop feeding in the evening. He must have been going through a growth spurt. Quickly, over those few days, we had depleted what little backup supply I had just to feed him enough to keep him happy. Then, here we were warming up the last backup bottle we had and I was overwhelmed. I felt like because I had to go back to work, I could not provide as much as he needed. I felt like we were going to have to give him formula, which not only made me feel defeated, but I was scared at the prospect of having to pay for formula…AFTER having spent so much on a pump. Luckily, we made it work and we never had to give him an ounce of formula, which I am definitely not saying anything negative about formula, the parents that have to use it or the babies that consume it. You do what you gotta do.

Along that same line, I had a small run-in with mastitis. For the first few weeks back at work, I was sharing the pumping room with another lady in the building. When I first started, I asked her for her schedule so that I could plan around it. I felt that since she was there first and I was just figuring out when I needed to do everything, that I would work around her schedule. She gave me her schedule, but there were times when I would go to the room and she would be in there (not during a time she said she would). There were a few times I had to skip my session because I had waited for so long and couldn’t wait any longer and had to get back to work. Because of this, I must have gotten a clogged duct and one day, a spot started hurting really bad and then I started feeling really weird. I was freezing and shaking when the room temperature was what it normally was; my entire body ached…I was having flu-like symptoms and my supply from that side went to almost non-existent. It was scary. That night, I made sure to use a hot-compress, massage and I tried to sleep the best I could. It was NOT easy trying to get better when you have someone else to take care of that wants to eat. But the best thing is to let them eat no matter how much it hurts. Luckily, it went away rather quickly, but I had to adjust my schedule to pump 3 times a day for 2 reasons: 1) to help my body learn to make more milk and 2) so even if I went down and the room was occupied, it wouldn’t be so long until my next session.

For the last few months up to one year, it had been just me using the pumping room, so I would go down whenever I wanted. After a few months, I switched back to twice a day and then I was at just once a day. As of his birthday, I had stopped pumping altogether. It’s kind of weird not taking multiple breaks throughout the day. But it sure is nice not carrying my pump bag or bottle bag…or having to remember it…or wash bottles and pump parts every day.

Nuby Drying Rack-3

He made the switch to cow’s milk pretty easily. We’ll add Ovaltine to his morning milk just to add some more nutrition and flavor so he’ll drink it all. He drinks everything from his Nuby straw cup during the day and now will recently just drink a 8-9 oz bottle of milk before bed.

I thought it would be fun to give a little rundown of a year of pumping by the numbers. I’m not sure how many other moms that work out of the home there are out there, but even SAH and WAH moms may find it interesting.

Pumping to 1 year

Pumping to 1 year – by the numbers
Work Weeks (after 6 weeks maternity leave): 44
Days a Week: 5
Times per Day: 2-3
Minutes each session: 15

What that equals:
Minutes: 8,250
Hours: 137.5
Entire days: 5.73

Medela pump: $250
Extra pump parts: $17
Hands-free bra: $30
Extra bottles: $26
Fenugreek: $7
Freezer storage bags: $16
Time away from work: N/A since paid breaks and lunch times were used
Electricity: N/A since I pumped at work

Total Spent: $346 (approximately)

Average cost of formula for 1 year (from this article, because I don’t want to do math after work): 1,733.75

Total saved: $1,733.75 – 346 = $1,387.75

The formula amount is based off of an article from someone who just did some average calculations, so if you have a first-hand knowledge of the true costs of formula feeding, than please share it in the comments!

Of course, there are many other differences that can’t be calculated and can benefit either side: health benefits, bonding, sleep differences, ease of use, availability, etc. And I’m sure both of those numbers can vary greatly from person to person. I’ve read so often that babies who drink formula sleep longer at night since it fills them up more than breastmilk would and yes, I often became jealous of that…especially on some very long, almost sleepless nights.

-Until your supply mellows out, do not skip or be late for a session…unless your job is holding a wet t-shirt contest and you want to win.

-If you have to share a room with someone else, work out your schedules. It works out best for everyone involved if you are not trying to use the room at the same time. Also, be mindful of your schedule. Don’t cut into their time just so you can squeeze out an extra ounce…end your session and come back if they are waiting to use the room. You wouldn’t want them to make you wait, so don’t do it to someone else.

-If you have an office, even better! Lock the door and/or put up a sign. I recommend getting some type of lock if you don’t already have one. Know the regulations when it comes to what accommodations your employer has to allow/give.

-I listed my Pumping Essentials several months ago, and that still holds true. There are a few things you can buy to make your experience much easier and more pleasant.

-Don’t try to push your body to do something it can’t/won’t do. I’ve read how some people want to feed their babies breastmilk so badly, but that they can’t produce the milk like they need to, so they pump ALL.THE.TIME. and end up causing damage to themselves. It may be difficult to let go of your initial plans, but not all babies are the same and you have to do what’s best for you and yours. Don’t feel like a failure…at least you tried and that’s the best you can do.

-Don’t listen to every mom on the forums/interwebs/play group/etc. I am a member of a few online mommy forum groups and when I had breastfeeding questions or just wanted to read what other mommies were going through, one of the sites had a breastfeeding group that I would read. Worst idea ever. They are made up of 99% moms that just read and 1% outspoken moms that had everything in their life work out perfectly and if you don’t do what they did, then you are doing it wrong. I remember them insisting that you should never ever feed a baby more than 3.5 ounces of milk at a time and it had to be at least 3 hours apart. Ha! You try feeding Trent less than 4 ounces and then deal with him and come back and tell me no more than 3.5 ounces…

-When it gets difficult, just remind yourself that it’s not for forever…unless you want to be on the cover of Time magazine.

-If you’re pumping at work and have a refrigerator, if you want to save time by not washing your pump parts (and maybe add more time to your actual pump time) then I recommend 2 options: 1) you could buy a 2nd set of pump parts, use one set at each pump session and then wash them when you get home…or 2) just throw your pump parts in your carrier with your bottles of milk that gets put into the fridge. Any milk that is still in the pump parts won’t go bad because it’s in the fridge and you can just take them out for your next session and use them again and then wash them at home. This is what I did and it worked out great.

Another “of course” is that each person has different circumstances. I do not judge whatsoever…do what ya gotta do. And as always, talk to your doctor before making any decisions…this is just my little rundown and comparison! 🙂



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  1. Breastfeeding and pumping actually turned out to be more expensive for me. I was only about to do it for 8 weeks for my twins and my pump was paid for by insurance. After calculating the cost of lactation consultant visits once a week for the first few weeks, the cost of pump accessories, multiple doctor visits and antibiotics for mastitis… we spent so much time and money! Now I use formula for both babies and they are doing lovely. The Target Up & Up brand is about 25.00 for a large container that lasts us 5 days between the two babies and they almost always have sales or specials where you can get money back in gift cards. The time saved by not breastfeeding/pumping and supplementing is ridiculous – our routine used to take us 75 minutes between the two of them every couple of hours – now we are down to 40 minutes each feeding and I have so much more free time to play with and enjoy my babies 🙂

    • I definitely understand! Sometimes it can be very difficult to maintain it for various reasons and it’s good to know when to make the switch based on what works best for you. This example was based on my personal experience, so since I was able to do without any issues, I was able to effectively compare it to the alternative. Taking your example of the costs of formula, I definitely saved money, but I also didn’t have the complications you had…or had twins! I also had mastitis, but it went away on its own. I’m glad you were able to find a way to make it work best for your family!

  2. I strictly breastfed for the 8 weeks I was home with my daughter and was adamant on pumping when I returned to work. That first day back I was told I had exactly 15 minutes on my breaks to pump, which needless to say by the time I got my pump set up and started pumping I had all of 5 minutes to pump, break it down and get back to work! Talk about stressed! Plus I got half a point for having a late break! I wanted to just cry that day! Unfortunately I had to start supplementing supplemental formula. I still feed her before and after work and my days off but I’m worried my supply is running out as a result! Any thoughts?

    • I too had 15 minute breaks, but my boss was a little more lenient than yours it seems…so sorry to hear that. One thing that helped was that I also used part of my lunch break to pump…so that allowed 3 sessions, with the lunch one being a little longer if needed. The more often you pump, the more your body tries to produce in order to keep up…maybe that will help you. To help with time, I also put my pump parts in the fridge with my milk in a little insulated container, that way I didn’t have to spend time cleaning them and any milk still on there wouldn’t go bad. Then I cleaned everything when I got home. Over time, I got more efficient with setting up the pump, maybe you will too! In the end, do what you have to do and know that you tried your best.

  3. I am a teacher and was only able to pump once a day and I made it to a year! I just had to pump before work, when I got home and at night before I went to bed to keep up. For the next child I will definitely pump as much as possible while I’m on leave to create a stash and not have to pump so much at home and to make sure I have enough toward the end because my supply tanked at about 10 months.

  4. As of December 3rd, I’ll have made it to 1 year breastfeeding & pumping, 7 months of which has been my exclusively pumping since my daughter stopped latching. It hasn’t been easy, but I feel it’s been well worth it & I definitely have lessons learned from this experience for my next one, whenever that will be. I have also managed to donate to other mothers in NY. SC, and MN over 1000oz of breastmilk.

  5. So I have been breastfeeding for almost 4 months. I am an active duty servicemen we so I was previously stationed in Korea but during he move I had to begin supplementing due to the lack of time and also I wanted to store as much of my breastmilk as possible because my daughter was with her grandparents for two weeks while we got settled at the new duty station. Now she is almost four months and my supply is so low that I feel there is no reason for me to continue but I feel so bad. She started daycare two weeks ago and has a cold. Of course I knew that would happen being around other kids. Should I continue? I am taking fenugreek and I also breastfed her throughout the weekend. I realize I pretty much have to plan my day by the seconds to get most things done on my to do list. I’m just not sure anymore.

    • *servicemember I apologize for the grammatical errors I am typing from my phone

    • Well the daycare and cold thing, that’s unavoidable. My 2 have colds right now – one is currently drinking breastmilk and neither are in daycare. It can be hard to keep pumping when supply is low, I understand. Fenugreek helps and you can also try Mother’s Milk Tea and pump more often to try to train your body to make more. But don’t feel like a failure if you have to stop. Sometimes the stress can be too much and at least you tried for as long as you could. Good luck!

  6. I’m sorry to hear the comments about several people’s bosses not allowing them more time to pump. You should contact hr. At my work there was a guy who took extra breaks to smoke and when a female was told she couldn’t have the time she needed to pump, she spoke with hr and after finding this was a double standard and that women’s basic human rights were being violated, a new policy was formed. Since this was ammended to the fair labor standards act, you do have a leg to stand on. Refer to Section 7(r)of the fair labor standards act.

  7. Thanks for this post! I saw it on Pinterest and it was perfect timing! My daughter is 10 months old and I want to make it to one year so badly. I also want to curse every time I set up the pump (3 times a day now, twice at work and once before I go to bed). Thanks for breaking down your experience!

  8. claudia snyder

    So my son will be 4 months this coming February and Im pumping 5/6 times a day…..went to work after a month and luckily my boss is great about my pumping breaks….my only problem is how to reduce my pump sessions…im sooo tired of carrying “the bag” everywhere we go…my husband even set up a plug in the car just so I can pump when we go on trips….any advice on how to cut the pumping?

    • I can definitely understand that feeling! Honestly, if you’re saying you pump 5/6 times throughout the entire day, then that seems like an average amount of times. If you mean you’re doing that much during just the work day and you want to cut down, then maybe try cutting out one session and evenly spacing out the remaining sessions and adding a few more minutes to each one to make up for it. I would make sure not allow too much time between sessions.

  9. First of all, loved your post! I have an almost 9 month old son that I’m nursing/pumping for. I’m looking for advice from other mamas on how/when to go about weaning down to fewer bottles during the day. He’s currently nursing in the morning, takes 3 5-oz bottles with the babysitter and then nurses at bedtime. He also eats solid foods, breakfast after he nurses in the morning/before he goes to babysitter. Has lunch and an afternoon snack with the babysitter. I pick him up and we have dinner at home then bath, nursing and bedtime. So total of 5 milk feedings, 3 solid meals and a snack. That seems like a lot of food to me! Did you increase the volume of bottles and slowly drop to fewer bottles? I hear all these BF mamas say that by 12 months they were only nursing in the morning and at night…but how did they get there? I pump 3 times a day at work. Any advice appreciated!

    • Thank you! and congrats for making it to 1 year – at least that’s the plan, right? 🙂

      As far as reducing my pumping, I started spacing out the sessions little by little until I was just doing 1 or 2 longer sessions and then none. As far as weaning, it started with removing nursing sessions gradually, first the middle of the night, then middle of the day, etc. The last one was the nighttime one, but first we replaced nursing with a bottle of breastmilk, then after 1 year we replaced the breastmilk with cow’s milk, then after a little while, we removed that milk entirely (he drinks milk with meals during the day now). My son did really well, but all babies are different…I think it really helped that he both nursed and drank from a bottle, so he wasn’t set in doing things one particular way. I wish you the best!

  10. Hi Lynn! I’m going back to work as a elementary teacher in the fall when my son will be about 5 months old. For the last 4 years I’ve basically worked through all my breaks (except lunch) and still left school after my work day was officially over. Obviously I’ll need to cut back but with pumping I’ll have even less time to get everything done. I feel like I have to choose between spending time pumping at work or spending time at home with my son. You said you were only pumping once a day by the end of the year. My question is, if I just pump once a day starting at only 5 months will my milk dry up? I’m OK with formula supplementing so it’s not an issue of pumping enough ounces. I just want to be able to continue nursing when I’m with my baby.

    • I, too, used to find myself not taking the breaks I was allowed, but made sure I changed that when it came time to pump. The reason I was only at 1 session at the end of the year was because I was 1) trying to stop pumping and breastfeeding all together without being abrupt, and 2) I would still nurse when I was at home (until I was done entirely after 1 year). It’s kind of hard to say how it will work at 5 months. Your body may still be trying to figure out what is needed, but you may also be ok if you’re not trying to win the ounce game. It’s definitely helpful that your baby would still nurse because they are much more efficient at it. I say try your best and remain positive and be happy with however long your able to make it work 🙂 Good luck.

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