How to continue breastfeeding if you’re returning to work

For breastfeeding mothers, returning to work is a big milestone and usually means making changes in baby’s feeding routine

It’s recommended that new mums exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of baby’s life, but there are many benefits if you continue for longer.  Here are some tips from Lansinoh to ensure you can continue your breastfeeding journey, even after you head back to work.

Plan ahead

It depends on when you are returning to work but, ideally, it is best to get breastfeeding well established before starting to pump.  This is because baby teaches your body how much milk to produce and this natural process helps establish the milk supply.  If possible, wait until at least four weeks after birth before pumping or having baby take a bottle.  Whatever the timing, be sure to leave yourself some time for adjusting to the pump and for baby to adjust to taking expressed breastmilk from a bottle.

Well before returning to the office, arrange childcare close to your place of work so that your baby is nearby;  a trial run might help to reassure you.

If you want to continue feeding your little one by nursing or with breastmilk, invest in a breastpump such as Lansinoh’s 2-in-1 Double Electric Breast Pump, stock up on breastmilk storage bags and have a breastmilk feeding bottle on hand so that baby can easily switch between breast when you’re home and bottle when you’re at work.  It’s also handy to take a stock of breast pads to work with you too – they will give you protection from leaking breastmilk onto your bra and top. If pumping at work, make sure you take a cool bag with you so you can safely transfer your milk home. You may also find it helpful to invest in a manual breast pump; one that fits into your handbag easily, enabling you to pump on the go in case you don’t have access to an electrical outlet.

Get into a pump and feed routine

In order to keep up supply when apart from your baby, it’s important to pump, and the best way to keep on track of your supply is to pump on the same schedule as your baby usually feeds.  Additionally, pumping will allow you to express your milk so you can leave it behind when you and your baby are apart. It is important to familiarise yourself with your pump a few weeks before you return to work, and give your baby time to adjust to taking  breastmilk from a bottle. Nurse your baby as often as possible but incorporate pumping into your routine.  Pumping in between feeds or when baby is sleeping can also help to prevent engorgement, and it will keep your supply up too as your body gets signals to keep making milk.

Know your rights!

Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, employers in the UK are obliged to provide facilities for breastfeeding women to ‘rest’.  These should be close to the sanitary facilities, and offer a space that is comfortable and private where you can express your breastmilk.  You also have the right to ask for changes to your working hours if you need more flexibility. 

Talk to your employer

Being open and honest about your needs is the best policy so it’s worth having a conversation with your manager or HR department about the availability of facilities where you can pump.  Before you return to work, write to your employer to let them know you are breastfeeding. If your employer needs to create a rest area for you, it’s worthwhile talking to them about what  you need – it may be as simple as a private space with a comfy chair.