Are you returning to work,
or planning for times when you will be separated from your baby?
There are so many ways to handle working and breastfeeding. We thought
you might be interested in some information gleaned from mothers
who have returned to work in their baby's first year. These are
just a few excerpts from the "Returning to Work" section
Breastfeeding Guide. You can download our free Guide for
more information on talking to your employer, buying a breast pump,
and expressing your milk, and there are lots of helpful hints even
if you aren't returning to work.
Breastfeeding & Working? It’s
Combining employment and breastfeeding requires some preparation
and commitment, but working mothers say it's worth it: They say
breastfeeding is simpler than bottle-feeding. Their babies are sick
less often. They maintain a unique, irreplaceable bond with their
babies, even when they must be away. And they find that the flood
of relaxation that accompanies breastfeeding counteracts stress.
For many working mothers, breastfeeding is the string that ties
the two halves of their life together. It is normal to feel a mix
of anticipation and apprehension at the prospect of returning to
work. It might ease your anxiety to reaffirm your priorities. Reconsider
your reasons for returning to work. Confirm your resolve to breastfeed
Making your work situation work for
you and your baby
Weigh your baby's needs versus your employer's expectations. Think
creatively. How can you shape your job to satisfy you, your baby,
and your family? How can you frame your work hours around breastfeeding
sessions? Consider whether the following strategies might work for
Work a part-time or flexible schedule,
especially at the beginning. Fran,
who waits tables in a restaurant, works evenings, her most lucrative
shift and a time when her husband is available to look after their
Arrange a job-sharing situation.
Marie, a registered nurse, shares her job in a clinic with two other
Extend your maternity leave.
Robin, a hairstylist, negotiated for six extra weeks of unpaid leave
to delay her return to work.
Work at home part of each day or week.
Jean, a college student, reads and researches at home while her
Take milk-expression and nursing breaks
during your workday. Stephanie, a
marketing director, pumps her breasts at mid-morning, breastfeeds
her son at work at noon, and takes a second pumping break in the
Leave work during your shift so you
can feed your baby. Jody, an accountant,
returns home at noon to breastfeed her son.
If your job involves travel, request
assignment to your "home" site for as long as possible.
Stacy, a management consultant, worked out of corporate headquarters
for the six months following her daughter's birth.
Apply your skills to a home-based
business. Elaine launched a catering
business that taps into her entrepreneurial talents and lets her
set a flexible schedule.
Bring your baby
to work with you. Trish, co-owner
of a café,
tends to her son between customers.
Approach your employer
Try to be forthright with your manager. The actions and attitudes
of women like you drive changes in worksite support of breastfeeding.
An employer who is convinced of the importance of breastfeeding
is likely to make the arrangements necessary to encourage it. Before
your baby is born, educate your manager. She needs to know that
your baby won't interfere with your work. Bring notes to consult
from as you make your case. Show her the Returning to
Work section of our Essential Breastfeeding
Guide. Describe the benefits of breastfeeding. Because
breastfed babies are healthier, you will be less apt to miss work.
Assure her that by committing to your baby in this way, you'll have
more peace of mind to commit to work. Explain that your need for
frequent contact with your baby will not continue forever. In six
months or a year, after your baby begins to take other foods, he
will be more independent of you.
Ask for a suitable place at your worksite where you can breastfeed
your baby or express your milk. Request some flexibility in taking
breaks. Expressing should take no more than an hour a day, about
the equivalent of a lunch break. After you return to work, give
your employers feedback. Bring your baby to work so they can see
how she is thriving. Tell them how pleased you are with their flexibility
and support. If your employer balks at your requests, ask your physician
to furnish the current pediatric recommendations on breastfeeding.
Every nursing mother feels at times as though she is falling apart.
This sensation may be especially worrisome for "career women"
who are accustomed to a sense of control. What can you do? Try to
keep an open mind and a sense of humor. Ask your friends for support
and diversion. Simplify your life at home. Lower your housekeeping
standards. Ask for help with meals and cleaning. Eat healthy foods.
Drink plenty of fluids, limiting your caffeine intake. And take
every opportunity to breastfeed and cuddle with your baby.
Maintaining Your Milk Supply
Frequency is the key. Nurse unrestrictedly throughout your evenings,
nights, weekends, and days off. As long as you continue breastfeeding,
even part time, you will produce milk, although your supply might
diminish if you do not express for missed feedings. Remember that
milk production is based on supply and demand. If you and your baby
spend time apart during the day, it is common for your baby to want
to breastfeed more when you are together, to compensate. Expect
an upswing in the frequency of nursings.
Returning to work
Choose the expression method that best meets your needs. If you
purchase a pump, practice assembling and cleaning it. In time, you
will become accustomed to the sensation of holding a plastic flange
against your breast. If you opt for hand-expression of your milk,
learn the technique well in advance of your return to work. Begin
expressing and freezing milk about two weeks prior to resuming your
work routine. The assurance you gain will make it easier for you
to continue after you return to work. Try breastfeeding and expressing
milk in various locations.
Delay introducing a bottle until your baby has become expert at
nursing and your milk supply is well established - at least four,
preferably six weeks. About two weeks before you return to work,
have your baby's caregiver offer your baby a bottle. Many babies
will refuse a bottle if their mother is nearby. Infants older than
three months who resist the notion of drinking from a bottle might
accept milk from a cup or a spoon.
Where will you express?
Look for a place where you can relax and be comfortable. It should
be quiet, private, and clean, with a comfortable chair, a countertop,
and an electrical outlet. You might be able to use a private office,
a conference room, or a storeroom. Ask your building manager or
human resources staff for suggestions. Your employer might offer
to set up a lactation room. You should not be forced to pump in
a bathroom stall - an unsanitary and unsatisfactory site.
Letting your milk flow
Your body is accustomed to releasing milk in response to the feeling
of your baby's soft skin and his mouth on your breast. These cues
are usually missing when you pump your milk. Training your body
to let down your milk in the absence of your baby involves both
psychology and physiology. If you have trouble, try some of the
* Minimize distractions. Take the phone off the hook and lock the
door, if possible.
* Look at a picture of your baby.
* Make a phone call to check on your baby.
* Listen to soothing music or a tape of your baby's sounds.
* Use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing.
* Bring along one of your baby's blankets or a piece of his clothing
(with his smell).
* Prior to expressing, massage your breasts as you would for a breast
Your Monthly Breastfeeding Planner
You’re currently reading breastfeeding information we’ve
geared specifically to new nursing moms whose baby is about three
months old. Our website offers insight and information on other
stages of pregnancy and birth, to help guide you through the details
of selecting your nursing wardrobe, planning for those first days
in the hospital and home, breastfeeding in public, returning to
work, and more. Browse your current stage, look back or ahead, and
refer to this section often as your nursing experience progresses:
Time to Shop for Maternity & Nursing Bras (6th month of
Essential Information for New Nursing
Moms (7th month of pregnancy)
Pack Your Bag For Baby’s Birth! (baby
due in less than 2 months)
Building The Perfect Nursing Wardrobe (baby
due in 1 month or less)
Essential Information To Get Breastfeeding Started (baby
Nursing On The Go (baby 1 month old)
Breastfeed Your Baby – Anytime, Anywhere (baby
2 months old)
10 Reasons to Keep Nursing your Baby (baby
4+ months old)