Successful Breastfeeding at Work
Successful breastfeeding requires planning and patience. There are several things you can do to help ensure successful breastfeeding after returning to work.
Before you go on maternity leave:
- Explore your maternity leave options.
- Plan your maternity leave strategically. If you have more time after the baby arrives then you will have longer to initiate breastfeeding. Research shows that a longer time at home after you give birth improves breastfeeding success.
- Consider a more flexible schedule or working from home for a few months after your maternity leave ends. Even one day per week would be helpful.
- Talk to your supervisor and explain your breastfeeding intentions and what that will mean at work (specifically break times). If you prefer, you may consult your HR manager or the Office of Work, Life and Engagement if you have questions. (firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-997-7000)
- Select a place to express milk. You can express milk wherever you feel comfortable.
- Email or call the Mother's Rooms contact person to find out if you are eligible to use the room and instructions for accessing the room.
- Based on the place you choose to pump, determine whether you will need your own breast pump or an accessory kit for a hospital-grade pump.
- Find out how long it takes to walk from your office to the pumping location so that you can add that time to your time to pump.
While on leave:
- Establish a good milk supply. If you have any trouble, contact your pediatrician or a lactation consultant before you go back to work.
- Drink lots of water to help build up your milk supply. It takes a few days to increase your supply, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get much milk at first.
- Practice using your pump. This will reduce troubleshooting once you return to work.
- Establish back-up milk. While practicing using your pump, freeze the milk you pump just in case you run into difficulties at work. Pump once or twice a day after breastfeeding a few weeks before you go back to work (Le Leche League International recommendation). You can give some of the back-up milk to your child care provider so there is extra during a growth spurt or if there are difficulties bottle feeding your baby.
- Once breastfeeding is well-established after 4-6 weeks, introduce a bottle. Bottle feeding should be easy and stress-free for your baby and child care provider. Your baby probably won’t take a bottle from you, so ask your partner to work at bottle feeding. Bottle feeding will increase your partner’s bonding with the baby—an added benefit.
When you return to work:
- Consider returning to work on a Wednesday or Thursday so that you will only have 2 or 3 days away from your baby the first week back.
- Give about six 2 oz. containers of milk to your child care provider for a full work day. Babies tend to eat about 2-4 oz. each feeding after they reach 6 weeks of age. It is better to provide smaller containers of milk so none will be wasted. Talk with your child care provider to figure out if more or less is needed.
- Store your milk in a refrigerator or cooler with ice packs.
- You can store your breast milk in shared refrigerators, because the CDC does not list breast milk "as a body fluid for which most healthcare personnel should use special handling precautions."
- Consider storing your milk in a cooler or paper bag with your name on the outside to reduce co-worker questions or protests about storing your milk in the shared refrigerator.
- You can store breast milk in a personal cooler with ice packs for up to 24 hrs.
- Remember that short pumping and breastfeeding sessions are better than no sessions at all. If you skip too many sessions, your milk supply will decrease. If you don't have a lot of time, don’t be discouraged from breastfeeding. Some is better than none.
Michigan State University Family Resource Center
Warm lines are non-crisis phone numbers you can call for answers to your questions. You may need to leave a message and a lactation consultant or other trained person will call you back. Many area hospitals provide breastfeeding support warm lines and other resources for women regardless of where they delivered.
Breast Pump Manufacturers
Breast pump kits from Ameda and Medela have the accessories you need for the hospital-grade pumps available in the Mother's Rooms.
National Women's Health Information Center
The National Women's Health Information Center, operated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, provides information on making breastfeeding easier at home and work, as well as breastfeeding rights and legislation.
United States Breastfeeding Committee
The United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) is an independent nonprofit coalition of more than 40 nationally influential professional, educational, and governmental organizations that share a common mission to improve the nation's health by working collaboratively to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.
La Leche League
La Leche League was founded to give information and encouragement, mainly through personal help, to all mothers who want to breastfeed their babies.
The Work and Pump website provides support and information for mothers committed to providing the best nutrition for their babies.
Use this chart to mark your baby's feedings. You can note how long the baby fed at each breast. Keep in mind that feeding times will vary. If you are feeding pumped breast milk, include the amount your baby eats.