Breastfeeding and returning to work

By Medela

Many mums need to return to work whilst still breastfeeding. Here are some ways to make this an easy process for your employer, yourself and your baby.

Before you go on maternity leave, it's important that you talk to your employer about the subject of breastfeeding and/or expressing.

During pregnancy

  • Discuss with your employer how to organise your return to work after your maternity leave
  • Look into childcare options for your child, for example: care at home by a nanny, au-pair or babysitter; a crèche or childminder; company childcare at work; childcare run by a church
  • Attend an open day at your favourite places and put your child on the waiting list.

Advice for your breastfeeding chat with your employer

  • Plan the meeting in plenty of time, preferably a couple of months before you go on maternity leave
  • Be confident when you go into the meeting with your employer. Keep it in the back of your mind that you only want what's best for you and your baby
  • Come up with a couple of creative ideas or suggestions yourself, which your boss might find useful if there isn't much space available
  • Cooperate with your employer to find a suitable breastfeeding room or a quiet place to do it
  • Make a note of your suggestions in writing
  • Research the company policy regarding maternity rights and returning to work
  • Also check the company policy in relation to breastfeeding
  • Find out about your legal rights as a breastfeeding mother
  • Talk to your manager about your future work hours and how much flexibility you will have. Enquire about alternatives, such as part-time work or job sharing
  • Also consider an arrangement which will allow you to return to work gradually. It might be possible to work part time for the first few weeks before returning to full-time work
  • If you immediately start back to work full time, make your first day back to work midweek, such as a Thursday. That way you and your baby will only have to manage for two days before the weekend.

The weeks before your return to work

It can be tough when it comes to the end of your maternity leave. Start preparing for this a few weeks in advance:

  • Try to make your first day back at work in the middle of the week. This means you will get a break at the weekend before starting a full week of work
  • Introduce your baby to your colleagues, and inform them that you are still breastfeeding and will be expressing three to four times during working hours
  • Try to keep your working hours as flexible as possible during the first few weeks, perhaps by working part time
  • Organise your expressing equipment
  • Ask where you can express at work
  • Start expressing as soon as you are in the swing of breastfeeding. Express an extra lot daily for use as provisions after work
  • Inform your crèche, childminder, etc. of when you will be returning to work
  • Spend time there with your baby
  • Discuss an induction period with the carers to allow your baby to gradually get used to the new environment
  • Make a list of important tips, requirements, preferences and telephone numbers if your baby is being cared for at home
  • Contact other mothers who have made the return to work
  • Don't be afraid to ask others for help - going back to work is tiring
  • Don't feel guilty: you are a good mother - be good to yourself too!

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

Gain more Parenting Insights at our Expos

Get your Expo tickets today! View Expo dates