Breastfeeding and returning to work
It is possible to carry on breastfeeding once you've gone back to work but it does take a fair amount of planning.
Different options for continuing to breastfeed once you're back at work:
- Leave expressed breastmilk for your baby to drink while you're at work and breastfeed morning and evening
This can work well if your baby is on solids and only needs one or two other milk feeds during the day. But trying to express more than two bottles a day is asking a lot, especially when you're adjusting back to work life.
It's certainly not everyone's idea of work-life balance to be spending every lunchbreak locked in a poky room with only a breastpump for company.
- Switch to formula during the day and breastfeed morning and evening
This is probably the only sustainable option if your baby's under six months and needs frequent feeds in the day. Remember that if you do this your milk supply will diminish, so you may have to formula-feed 9am-5pm at weekends, too, although it doesn't hurt to try and breastfeed whenever you can.
- Try to feed your baby in your breaks
If you are lucky enough to have childcare near your place of work, or childcare facilities at work (which, let's face it, is rare this side of Scandinavia), you can arrange with your employer to be able to go and feed your baby during your breaks.
Otherwise, if you work near home, or near your child's nursery or childminder, you can try to arrange to visit your baby in the day.
What are your rights at work regarding breastfeeding?
NHS Choices recommends informing your employer in writing that you're breastfeeding, as this will mean that they have to perform a risk assessment and this may give you access to concessions for breastfeeding mothers.
It is recommended (by the Health and Safety Executive) that employers provide a suitable place for a mother to express and store milk (which shouldn't be in the toilets) and to consider offering flexibility for extra breaks so you can express milk, or temporarily reduced hours so that you can feed your baby if that supports your decision to continue breastfeeding.
This does not appear to be compulsory but it can be argued that not doing so would put your health and your baby's health at risk. Ask your workplace if they have a policy that covers breastfeeding and see what options they offer. See www.maternityaction.org.uk for further advice if you are having difficulties with your employer.
What Mumsnetters say about breastfeeding and returning to work
- I went back to work when my daughter was five and a half months. I used to feed her when she woke, then I expressed milk twice a day – mid-morning and mid-afternoon – at work. I'd also built up an emergency freezer supply of expressed breastmilk before I went back to work. My biggest bit of advice? Don't stress about milk quantities. Your baby will make up for lost time mornings and evenings and other days. Pidge
- When I went back to work and my daughter went to nursery, I was expressing milk for her but, eventually, this got too much. I constantly had either a baby or a pump attached to my boobs. So she went on to formula at nursery. I still breastfeed in the morning and when I get back from work and it is a lovely relaxing time for both of us. It is also a wonderful way to force my husband into making our dinner whilst I'm 'making' hers! prufrock