You can continue to
breast-feed after you return to work. But it is
important to think ahead about practical issues, such as where to store your
Some issues to consider include:
Employer support. Before your child is born, talk
to your employer about your breast-feeding plans. Point out the benefits of
continuing to breast-feed, such as greater personal satisfaction and possibly
fewer sick days off because of your breast-fed baby's reduced risk of some
Timing. If possible, wait at least 4 to 6 weeks after
the birth of your baby before returning to work. This helps ensure that your
milk production is established. Try to time your first day back toward the end
of the workweek rather than the beginning. This helps you adjust to working
Logistics. Work out the details of where you can pump or
breast-feed, and how you will store your breast milk. Also, plan for how
frequently you will need to breast-feed or pump and how long it will take. You
may be able to pump your breasts during your normally scheduled breaks or over
your lunch period. To minimize the number of breaks you need to take at work,
breast-feed just before and after work.
How to prepare your baby. If you are certain that you will be returning
to work, show your baby how to drink from a bottle, or even a cup if your baby
Before going back to work but after breast-feeding has been well
established, have someone other than yourself offer your baby a bottle of
breast milk. Try this at least an hour before the next feeding is due and at a
time of the day that your baby is usually happy.
Don't force the baby to drink
from the bottle. If he or she refuses, wait a couple of days and try again.
When your baby drinks from a bottle easily, continue to offer one every so
often. About 7 to 10 days before returning to work, give the baby feedings from
a bottle more regularly. You will go and pump while someone else does the
How to prepare yourself. Be aware that the first week back to
work typically is the most difficult and exhausting. Plan on pumping several
times a day. A typical schedule would be mid-morning, lunchtime, and
mid-afternoon. Stop pumping when you have a reasonable amount of milk or after
about 20 minutes, whichever comes first.
How to make sure you maintain your milk supply. If your supply is a
little low, pump more often—even if only a little milk is coming out. This will tell
your body that you need more milk. In a few days, your milk supply will catch
up to the demand.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.