returning to work

16 Tips for Returning to Work While Breastfeeding

Planning ahead for your return to work can help ease the transition. Learn as much as you can ahead of time and talk with your employer about your options. This can help you continue to enjoy breastfeeding your baby long after your maternity leave is over.

During Pregnancy

  • Join a breastfeeding support group to talk with other mothers about breastfeeding while working.

  • Talk with your supervisor about your plans to breastfeed.

  • Discuss different types of schedules, such as starting back part time at first or taking split shifts.

  • Find out if your company provides a lactation support program for employees. If not, ask about private areas where you can comfortably and safely express milk. The Affordable Care Act (health care reform) supports work­ based efforts to assist nursing mothers.

  • Ask the lactation program director, your supervisor, wellness program director, employee human resources office, or other coworkers if they know of other women at your company who have breastfed after returning to work.

After the Baby is Born

  • Set up a breastfeeding routine that works for you and your baby

  • Ask for help from a lactation consultant or your doctor, if you need it.

During Your Maternity Leave

  • Take as many weeks off as you can. At least six weeks of leave can help you recover from childbirth and settle into a good breastfeeding routine. Twelve weeks is even better.

  • Practice expressing your milk by hand or with a quality breast pump. Freeze 2 to 4 ounces at a time to save for your baby after you return to work.

  • Help your baby adjust to taking breast milk from a bottle (or cup for infants 3 to 4 months old) shortly before you return to work. Babies are used to nursing with mom, so they usually drink from a bottle or cup when it's given by somebody else.

  • See if there is a childcare option close to work, so that you can visit and breastfeed your baby, if possible. Ask if the facility will use your pumped breast milk.

  • Talk with your family and your childcare provider about your desire to breastfeed. Let them know that you will need their support.

Back at Work

  • Keep talking with your supervisor about your schedule and what is or isn't working for you. Keep in mind that returning to work gradually gives you more time to adjust.

  • If your childcare is close by; find out if you can visit to breastfeed over lunch.

  • When you arrive to pick up your baby from childcare, take time to breastfeed first. This will give you both time to reconnect before traveling home and returning to other family responsibilities.

  • If you are having a hard time getting support, talk to your human resources department. You can also ask a lactation consultant for tips.

Updated June 6, 2016

navigator access center

Contact Virtua

A Personal Health Navigator can help you find a doctor, schedule appointments or classes, and help you find a service or location.

1-888-VIRTUA-31-888-VIRTUA-3 Live Chat