Topic Overview

You can continue to
breastfeed after you return to work. But it is
important to think ahead about practical issues, such as where to store your
pumped milk.

Some issues to consider include:

  • Employer support. Before your child is born, talk
    to your employer about your breastfeeding plans. Point out the benefits of
    continuing to breastfeed, such as greater personal satisfaction and possibly
    fewer sick days off because of your breastfed 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
    breastfeed, and how you will store your breast milk. Also, plan for how
    frequently you will need to breastfeed 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,
    breastfeed 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
    is older.

    • Before going back to work but after breastfeeding 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.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Mary Robbins, RNC, IBCLC – Lactation Consultant

Current as ofMarch 16, 2017