Breastfeeding Your Baby:
Returning to Work or School
Breastfeeding is the best, most nurturing way of feeding your new baby – something special you can do for your child and you.
- Benefits of breastfeeding
- What to expect in the first weeks
- How to prevent sore breasts
- Returning to work or school
- Breastfeeding an older baby
- When you need to be away
Yes, you can breastfeed when you go back to work or school!
Breastfeeding is good for your baby, you and your employer. Breastfed babies are healthier. This means less time away from work. Breastfeeding when you get home is a relaxing way to stay close to your baby.
Ask your WIC staff, nurse or doctor to help you plan
- How old will your baby be when you go back to work or school?
- How often and when is baby nursing?
- Will you need childcare?
Will you need to pump or express milk?
It depends on your child’s age and the number of hours you will be away. Older children nurse less often. Some women breastfeed more often during the night, so their babies won’t need to feed as often during the day. Your body will adjust to longer periods between pumping or feeding.
If you can’t express or pump your milk or feed your baby during the day, you can use formula while you are away. That way, your baby will still benefit from breastfeeding, and you can keep this special time together.
Find a supportive childcare provider
- Tell them you plan to keep breastfeeding.
- Ask if you can breastfeed when you drop off or pickup your child, or on your lunch breaks.
Talk to your employer or school nurse
- Can you return part time or start on a Thursday or Friday?
- Where can you express and pump your milk?
- Is there a refrigerator to store your milk? (If not, you can use an insulated lunch bag and a refreezable ice pack.)
- When are your breaks? By law, Minnesota employers must give you a reasonable unpaid break time and a place (not a toilet stall) to pump milk.
Get ready ahead of time
- If you plan to express or pump milk, get started a few weeks before you go back to work or school. You can store milk in the freezer, in case you run low on fresh breastmilk. Label the milk with your baby’s name and the date the milk was expressed.
- Find a breast pump that works well—for you. A double pump is fast and will help keep up your milk supply. Ask your nurse or breastfeeding specialist for help.
- If your baby breastfeeds well, try giving her a bottle 1-2 weeks before you return to work or school. Have someone else try, too. If your baby doesn’t take a bottle well, try a different type of nipple and bottle, or even a cup or spoon.
- Do a trial run before returning to work or school. Try leaving your child at childcare or with a family member.
- If you can, find clothes that let you breastfeed or pump easily, like two-piece outfits or clothes designed for breastfeeding.