With some advance planning, you can continue to breast-feed after you return to work.
- To get breastfeeding well established, take as much maternity leave as you can and breastfeed exclusively for the first three to four weeks.
- Once your baby is nursing well and your milk supply is well established (about three to four weeks), introduce a bottle. An occasional bottle prepares your baby to feed from a bottle while you are at work and should not interfere with breastfeeding. Keep in mind that many breastfed babies initially refuse to take a bottle from their mother; another caregiver may have to offer the bottle.
- Purchase or rent a high-quality electric breast pump. Start using it one or two weeks before your plan to return to work to become comfortable with the process and build up extra milk supply.
- After pumping, store milk in the refrigerator or cooler. Use refrigerated milk within 24 hours if possible; discard milk if refrigerated more than 72 hours. Freeze milk that you will not be using within 24 hours, in 2 to 4 ounce portions. Frozen milk is good for up to 3 months; label each container with the date frozen. Thaw milk in the refrigerator or under warm water, never by boiling or in the microwave. Do not re-freeze milk or put milk that has been warmed back in the refrigerator to use again later.
- Breastfeed before you leave for work and as soon as you can after your return. Breastfeed your baby during the day if your child-care provider is near your workplace. Otherwise pump breast milk for your baby to drink later.
- Adjust your work schedule if possible to minimize feeding times away from your baby. Work part-time, job share, or work at home part of each day or week, if possible.
Last updated May 29, 2011