Breastfeeding When Returning to Work
Many mothers find they maintain milk production more easily if they breastfeed before
showering or getting ready for work and then breastfeed again just before leaving
the baby with the care provider.
A new routine
If possible, develop a pumping routine based on when the baby would normally breastfeed,
especially when first returning to work. However, you, your baby, and your milk production
will adjust to a new routine if you are able to pump often enough. Many mothers do
find pumping sessions go more quickly when they are able to pump at about the same
time each day.
Most mothers prefer to pump both breasts at once with a double collection kit about
every 3 hours, for 10 to 15 minutes. Double pumping reduces pumping time. However,
frequent sessions are needed to "empty" the breasts for continued milk production
and avoid any breast discomfort. Pumping less often, even for longer than 15 minutes,
does not help maintain milk production. If unable to keep a regular pumping schedule
at work, expressing small amounts of milk during quick bathroom breaks can help to
maintain milk production better than going for longer periods without expressing any
Plan to breastfeed your baby as soon as you are back together. Ask your care provider
to try not to feed your baby for 1 to 2 hours before you arrive. It may help to call
the care provider when you are ready to leave work so he or she knows when you are
on your way.
You may need to arrange your evening schedule so you can spend more time with your
baby when you get home. Breastfeeding more frequently in the evenings and on weekends
can help you better maintain milk production. And, you and your baby will enjoy the
time together after separation.
As solid food are added to your baby's diet, you may find you do not have to pump
as frequently. Gradually lessen pumping sessions. You may want the care provider to
offer the solid foods, so your baby continues to breastfeed more when with you. This
also may allow you to begin gradually extending the time between pumping sessions.
The first few days or weeks after you return to work may be difficult until you and
your baby develop a new routine. You can expect a period of adjustment as your body
and your baby respond to the change. Some mothers experience a decrease in milk production
the first week they return to work due to the stress and changes in schedule. If this
does occur, it should increase with frequent pumping sessions. Continue to breastfeed
your baby as often as possible when not at work.
Contact your doctor or a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) for information, advice,
and assistance about breastfeeding.