Tips for Health

Returning to work and breastfeeding

By on March 30, 2012 in Health with 0 Comments

Breastfeeding is good for you and your baby. It provides the best nutrition and protects the baby against many diseases. According to some experts, babies should be breastfed or should be given only breast milk for about the first six months of life, and should continue breast feeding until they reach one year of age.

Can I continue to breastfeed when you return to work?

Yes, you can continue giving breast milk to your baby while you work. The easiest way to do this is to make a breastfeeding plan before returning to work. This plan can help deal with problems that could keep you from breastfeeding your baby.

Before starting your maternity leave or before you return to work after your baby is born, talk to your employer about the plan you have to breastfeed your baby.

Also, take as much time as possible during the maternity leave. This will help make sure that your milk supply is abundant before returning to work.

How I can continue to breastfeed my baby when I’m at work?

If possible, find a person responsible for giving care to her baby to live near your work place, so you can at least breastfeed your baby once a day while working. In the place where you work, you can have a nursery available for you or the person responsible for providing care for your baby can bring the baby to work for one or more feedings.

What happens if I pump my breasts?

If having your baby close during the workday is not possible you may decide to pump breast milk. You will need to make a schedule to pump. Talk to your employer and answer the following questions:

How often can you pump your breasts? What time can you do?

  • Where can you pump? Does this area have electricity and privacy?
  • What changes will you have to make in your work schedule to allow you to pump breast milk?

The list below can help you make sure you have everything you need to pump  milk at work.

Whenever you are with your baby you can breastfeed. When you are at work, the person who cares for your baby can use a bottle to feed the baby milk that you pump out the breasts. However, be careful not to bottle feed the baby too soon. If you use a bottle too early, your baby may not breastfeed as well. This problem is called “nipple confusion”. It is best to avoid bottles and pacifiers until your baby is four to six weeks old and has learned to breastfeed well.

What you need to pump breast milk at work

  • Breast pump, electrical adapter if needed. Extra batteries if using a battery-powered pump
  • A small cooler with ice if there is no refrigerator available to store your milk at work. If you forget the thermos, breast milk can be stored at room temperature for four to eight hours.
  • Enough milk storage containers for the number of times you will get milk during your workday.
  • A shirt, jacket or vest to wear in case you spill the milk from the breasts. It’s a good idea to wear shirts with prints as it is more difficult to see the milk on patterned material.
  • Clothing that will provide access to your breasts.Your clothing should open in the front.
  • A shawl or small blanket for privacy if you need to pump in a common area.
  • A bottle of water and healthy snacks (“snacks”).Women who are breastfeeding need extra calories.
  • A pillow to support your arm while you pump your breasts. This can make breast pumping more comfortable.
  • A sign that says “Do Not Disturb” if you are pumping in a shared space.


  • A radio, portable tape or CD with your favorite music or a book or magazine. If you are relaxed, your breasts will release milk more easily (the reflection of “the coming of milk”) and you can pump your breasts better.
  • A picture of your baby or an article or clothing of your baby. Thinking about your baby can stimulate “the coming of the milk.”

Where can I pump when I’m at work?

A room for “pumping” also called “lactation room” can be created in any area that provides privacy. The place must have a seat and a power plug. A sink is helpful for cleaning up after you pump breast milk. If your workplace has a refrigerator, you can use it to store your breast milk. Otherwise, you can bring a small cooler with ice and use it to store your breast milk.

What if I can not pump at work and I can not go home to breastfeed?

If you can not pump at work, you still can breastfeed your baby when you are with him/her. The caregiver can give your baby formula when you do not have enough breast milk available.

If you do not pump, your breasts will stop producing milk during work hours. During the first few days your breasts may overfill and leak milk. You can use a nursing pads that are placed inside your bra (“bra”) to absorb leaking milk from her breasts.Crossing her arms over her breast and applying firm pressure can stop the leaking. If your breasts become very uncomfortable, you can go to the bathroom and remove the milk, either by hand or with a breast pump enough to get relief.

Who can I talk to if I have questions about breastfeeding and work?

Talk to your doctor, or ask a friend or a family member who has breastfed while working outside the home.

Local support groups for infants and web pages related to breastfeeding are also a good source of information.

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