Breastfeeding and the working mother

Breastfeeding and the working mother
Published : September 22 , 2016
Latest Update : June 13 , 2021
Dr. Fatin Tamim Dr. Fatin Tamim
Fatin Tamim is a wife and mother of three children, who spent life hard-working, studying, and participating in raising community health awareness and related activities.  She... more

However challenging it might be, many mothers breastfeed their babies successfully while working, and like everything, a little planning goes a long way. It is really important to put the effort and continue breastfeeding you child, because if you do you can keep on providing your baby with breast milk even if you are away at work, and your baby will benefit from its optimal nutritional value even when you are not there. Breastfeeding reinforces the baby’s immunity as well, which means that chances of him getting sick are reduced by half, and this means you will not have to miss days of work caring for your sick child. Not to forget also, money can always be saved by not having to buy formula milk.

Although there are legislations that prevent discrimination against individuals with family responsibilities, unfortunately the breastfeeding issue still tends to fall on the mother to discuss with her employer on an individual basis. Therefore, talk to your employer about the importance of breast-feeding for you and your baby. It may seem an embarrassing topic to talk about with your employer but you will need to do so at least once. You can focus in your talk on providing you with the opportunity to customize time and place to express milk in a comfortable environment. To help build your case, you can also get a recommendation letter from your pediatrician stating the importance of breastfeeding for your baby's health.

You can follow these tips

  • It is better to discuss your breastfeeding plan with your employer in advance before you start your maternity leave.

  • Check the attitudes and knowledge of breastfeeding policies in your work place with the human resources department.

  • You will be expressing milk during working hours; therefore you will need a private room with a comfortable chair, a refrigerator for expressed breast milk storage and enough break times to express milk.

  • Discuss with your employer the possibility of needing to breastfeed your baby when brought to work during breaks. You can also discuss break times and flexibility of working hours.

Milk expression at work

Why express milk at work?

  • Pumping at work promotes milk production, so you'll continue to have good supply for your baby when you are away at work.

  • Milk expression at work can also be a wonderful way to feel connected to your baby when you are away every day.

Stimulating milk production

To be able to express a good supply of milk and to ensure good flow, follow these suggestions:

  • find a quiet and special place to start your milk expression session.

  • you can have some water or a warm drink -except for coffee- to rehydrate your body and facilitate milk production.

  • warm compresses can facilitate milk flow, so consider whether or not you can use them while you are at your workplace.

  • Think about your baby, his smell, and his things, look at his photos or watch a recorded video or voice.

  • you can also massage the breast from all directions toward the nipple since that was found to promote production of milk

  • Consider obtaining an electric breast pump to make pumping sessions at work quicker.

Please check our article on how to pump and store breast milk here.

Planning to return to work

In the two days leading to the first day at work, make sure you are fully prepared:

  • Make sure to leave your child for half a day at least with the person who will be responsible for his or her care while you are at work.

  • Try to express milk in the expected times of your work breaks.

  • You should try to identify the quantities of expressed milk that meets your child needs and observe whether quantities of expressed milk met your expectations or need to be modified (increased or decreased).

The night before:

  • Ice packs should be put in the freezer.

  • Frozen breast milk should be transferred down to the refrigerator in order for it to thaw.

  • Prepare the breast pump as well as all of its parts.

  • Be sure to include clean containers for expressed milk storage.

On your first day back to work:

  • Eat a healthy breakfast.

  • Do not forget to take a meal or two with you to have at work.

  • Breastfeeding your baby should be the last thing you do before leaving to work.

Please check our article on feeding breast milk using the bottle here

Feeding Alternatives

  • If the baby refused to take milk by any means, another person should be assigned to bring the baby to the workplace for breastfeeding.

  • If the child is over the age of 6 months and refuses artificial feeding, he will have to take complementary foods only while his mother is away.

If you need information about feeding breast milk using the bottle, please check our article here

How much milk does a child need during the day

The amount of milk needed for your baby is directly proportional to age and inversely proportional to complementary solid food given after the age of six months:

  • Before 6 months of age your baby needs about 940 ml per day (100% of the calories requirement)

  • From 7 to 10 months your baby needs 875 ml per day (93% of the calories requirement)

  • from 11 to 16 months, your baby needs  550 ml per day, (50% of the daily requirement of calories)

One last tip: Ask your baby caregiver not to feed your baby during the last working hour to make sure that your baby will be ready for you to nurse him when you get home. This way you can enjoy a warm and loving reunion with your baby. And if your baby is left hungry when you were away, nurse him as much as needed afterwards.


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