With some advance planning, you can continue to breastfeed after you return to work.
• Take as much maternity leave as you can.
• The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast-feeding exclusively for the first 6 months of life. To get breast-feeding well established, try to exclusively breastfeed for at least the first 3 to 4 weeks of life.
• 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 breast-feeding. Keep in mind that many breast-fed 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 96 hours. Freeze milk that you will not be using within 24 hours, in 2 to 4 ounce portions. Frozen milk is good for at least one month in a freezer attached to a refrigerator or for three to six months if kept in a deep freezer at 0°F or below. Store it in the back of the freezer, where the temperature is the coldest. Label each container with the date and time that you pumped or expressed the breast milk. Use the oldest milk first. Keep in mind, fats in breast milk can begin to break down in storage, so it is recommended that you use frozen breast milk within three months.
• 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.
• Breast-feed before you leave for work and as soon as you can after your return. Breast-feed 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.