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If you’re thinking about going back to work and you would like to keep breastfeeding and giving your baby breast milk in your absence, then you need a plan

When you return to work it will probably be the first time that you have been separated from your baby, and it’s a tough transition for most mums. It can really help both you and your baby to feel secure and close to continue with breastfeeding when you return to work.

Talk to other mums about good working solutions for breastfeeding mums

You need to prepare a long time in advance so you, your breasts and your baby are ready for the change in your routine. There are lots of different options that mums explore: different types of work, different hours and different child care arrangements. It’s a really good idea to talk to other breastfeeding mums for support about how to manage this transition.

At breastfeeding groups you’ll meet a whole variety of different women who’ve worked out different solutions to the challenge of going back to work and breastfeeding.

How can I continue breastfeeding after I return to work?

  • Some mums visit their babies in the work creche or at home (if close by) and feed their baby during the day
  • Mums can sometimes work from home
  • Some mums express breast milk at work and at home and their babies continue to have breast milk in a bottle given by their caregiver
  • Mums can wait until after six months when their baby is having solid food during the day with just morning and evening breastfeeds
  • Some mums swap over to formula feeding while they are away and they just breastfeed when they are with their baby

Can I ask to reduce my working hours when I return to work?

Find out more about your rights as a breastfeeding mum at Maternity Action

UK law gives all employees with a child the right to ask for flexible working hours if you have been employed by them for over 26 weeks. You can get more information on flexible working hours information and an application form here.

You can also ask for facilities to be able to express milk during ‘breaks’ at work.

Expressing breast milk at work

If you are going to go back to work and expressing your breast milk then make sure you give yourself plenty of time to practise, and get a bit of a supply in the freezer. Having a bank of your breast milk will give you confidence before you begin. Your baby needs a little bit of time to practise bottle feeding. It’s fine for your baby to have a bottle once they’ve learnt how to breastfeed.

Large companies may have a room set aside for breastfeeding mums, otherwise ask if you can use, for example, the first aid room, or another quiet, clean space. You will also need to be able to store your breast milk until you go home.

There are all sorts of options for mums to fit in breastfeeding with work and it’s important for mums to realise is that they can still breastfeed even if they’re working quite long hours. It’s lovely to come home after work and have a chilled, quiet breastfeed with your baby – and your baby will love to breastfeed when they sees you again. It is also great for your baby’s health.