If you're going to keep breastfeeding after you return to work, it may help to plan ahead.
Here are some things to think about.
- Employer support. Before your child is born, talk to your employer about your breastfeeding plans. Work out the details of where you can breastfeed or pump, and decide how you will store your breast milk. Also, plan for how often you will need to breastfeed or pump and how long it will take. To limit the number of breaks you need to take at work, breastfeed just before and after work.
- Timing. If you can, wait at least 4 to 6 weeks after the birth of your baby before returning to work. This helps ensure that your milk production is established.
- How to prepare your baby. Show your baby how to drink from a bottle or from a cup if your baby is older.
- If you've been breastfeeding for at least a month, offer your baby a bottle of breast milk. Try this at least an hour before the next feeding is due. Do it at a time of the day when your baby is usually happy.
- Don't force your baby to drink from a bottle. If your baby refuses, wait a couple of days and try again. When your baby drinks from a bottle easily, continue to offer one every so often. About 7 to 10 days before returning to work, give your baby feedings from a bottle more regularly. You could pump while someone else does the feeding.
- How to prepare yourself. Your first week back to work may feel difficult and exhausting. Plan on pumping several times a day. You could pump at mid-morning, lunchtime, and mid-afternoon. Stop pumping when you have a reasonable amount of milk or after about 20 minutes, whichever comes first.
- How to maintain your milk supply. If your supply is a little low, pump more often—even if only a little milk is coming out. This will tell your body that you need more milk. In a few days, your milk supply will catch up.
Current as of: November 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology