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 your 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. It may be hard for you to keep a regular pumping
schedule at work. If that’s the case, then try expressing small amounts of milk during
quick bathroom breaks. This can help maintain your milk production better than going
for longer periods without expressing any milk.
Making time to breastfeed
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 often in the evenings and on weekends can
help you better maintain milk production. You and your baby will also enjoy the time
together after having been apart.
As solid foods are added to your baby's diet, you may find you don’t have to pump
as often. Slowly lessen your pumping sessions. You may want the care provider to offer
the solid foods, so your baby keeps breastfeeding more when he or she is with you.
This also may allow you to begin slowly extending the time between your pumping sessions.
Adjusting to change
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 produce less milk production the
first week they return to work, due to the stress and changes in schedule. If this
does occur, your milk production should increase with frequent pumping sessions. Keep
breastfeeding your baby as often as possible when not at work.
Contact your healthcare provider or a certified lactation consultant for information,
advice, and help about breastfeeding.