Working and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding a newborn

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.

Tips for Working and Breastfeeding

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 working and breastfeeding and having a hard time getting support,talk to your human resources department. You can also ask a lactation consultant for tips.
A good-quality electric breast pump may be your best strategy for efficiently removing milk during the workday. Contact a lactation consultant or your local hospital, WIC program, or public health department to learn where to buy or rent a good pump. Electric pumps that allow you to express milk from both breasts at the same time reduce pumping time.

Find a Private Place to
Express Milk

Work with your supervisor to find a private place to express your milk.
The Affordable Care Act (health care reform) supports work-based efforts to assist nursing mothers. The Department of Labor is proposing a new regulation to allow nursing women reasonable break time in a private place (other than a bathroom) to express milk while at work.

(Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to comply if it would cause the company financial strain.) If you are working and breastfeeding and your company does not provide a private lactation room, find another private area you can use. You may be able to use:
An office with a door.
A conference room.
A little-used closet or storage area.

The room should be private and secure from intruders when in use. The room should also have an electrical outlet if you are using an electric breast pump. Explain to your supervisor that it is best not to express milk in a restroom. Restrooms are unsanitary, and there are usually no electrical outlets. It can also be difficult to manage a pump in a toilet stall.

Practical Pumping Tips

It may take time to adjust to pumping breast milk in a work environment. For easier pumping, try these tips for getting your milk to let-down from the milk ducts:

Relax as much as you can.
Massage your breasts.
Gently rub your nipples.
Visualize the milk flowing down.
Think about your baby – bring a photo of your baby, or a blanket or item of clothing that smells like your baby.

When to Express Milk?

At work, you will need to express and store milk during the times you would normally feed your baby.The number of times you need to express milk at work should be equal to the number of feedings your baby will need while you are away.
As the baby gets older, the number of feeding times may go down. Many women take their regular breaks and lunch breaks to pump. Some women come to work early or stay late to make up the time needed to express milk.

Where to Store My Breast Milk?

Breast milk is food, so it is safe to keep it in an employee refrigerator or a cooler with ice packs. Talk to your supervisor about the best place to store your milk.
If you work in a medical department, do not store milk in the same refrigerators where medical specimens are kept. Be sure to label the milk container with your name and the date you expressed the milk.

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