My Mummy's Milk

The Baby Show

The Baby Show

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Working and Breastfeeding


babyAlthough over 70% of women in the UK begin breastfeeding their new-born babies, nine out of ten who give up in the first six months would have preferred to breastfeed for longer.  One of the main reasons given for stopping is returning to work.

However, this does not mean that you have to stop breastfeeding.  You could:

- request flexible working hours

- organise child care close to your workplace, so that you can breastfeed during breaks as well as when you are at home

- express breastmilk to keep up your supply, and so that someone else can feed it to your baby

The third solution may sometimes be a challenge, and does take commitment and preparation.  However, with the support of your employer, using an efficient breast pump and having a proper storage area for your expressed milk, it can be done.  Even if you and your baby are apart for more of the time, you can still enjoy that close bond at the beginning and end of the working day, and on days when you are together.  It could be a good idea to ask the person who is looking after your baby while you are at work not to feed him for an hour or so before you come home (or give him less) so that you can both look forward to sharing that bond straight away.

download our info sheet

A good breast pump is important, both to keep up milk supply and to express enough breastmilk for your baby to have while you are at work.  Many women find it helps to massage their breasts before beginning, and to have a photograph of their baby to look at while expressing.  Frequency, as well as length of the pumping sessions, stimulates your body to produce milk, so try not to skip a session.  Take care not to miss pumping while you are away from your baby as you may become overly full, and at risk of a blocked duct which could lead to mastitis.  If your breasts become very full, express off enough for comfort.

If you feel uncomfortable, you do not have to tell your colleagues that you are expressing milk during your breaks, but your line manager should be informed and needs to know that it will not interfere with your work.  It is a good idea to keep a spare top and breast pads at work, should you need them.

Further Reading:

A guide for new and expectant mothers who work - www.hse.gov.uk/mothers
Breastfeeding and work: Information for employees and employers - www.breastfeeding.nhs.uk

Read our guide to what you are entitled to when returning to work and find out more.