Breastfeeding and the Working Mother

 breastfeeding mother

Since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding up to a year, many moms want to try and meet this time frame. More moms today are conscious of wanting to give their children the best start in life via breast milk.

It is natural for a new mom to feel apprehensive about returning to work after maternity leave, more so because of the challenge of continuing to breastfeed while working fulltime.

Continue reading to learn some great tips on how you can efficiently handle both working and breastfeeding successfully.

 mother feeding her baby at work

Check Workplace Allowances

Most workplaces are becoming aware of the rights of breastfeeding mothers and making allowances. Check if your workplace offers day care at the office. If this does not exist, there are other benefits that your boss would be willing to offer, if approached with the right mindset.

The breastfeeding mother needs a clean private place (not a bathroom) to express her milk. Regular and frequent breaks of about 20 minutes each are required to allow the mother to express her milk.

It should be emphasized that a breast fed baby will be healthier with less healthcare costs, and thus the mother will potentially take fewer days off from work.


baby and bottle

Store Milk Whenever Possible

The Human Milk Bank of America highlights that breast milk stored in the refrigerator is good up to 8 days and in the freezer up to 6 months. If it is stored in a separate deep freezer, it can be used up to a year!
Pumping before leaving for work in the morning gives a good head start. Store 2 ounce portions in bottles or storage bags, and label with exact dates.


Express or Pump your Milk

Since exclusively breastfeeding your baby directly will most likely not be an option, it will become necessary for the working mother to establish another means of providing breast milk. Breastfeeding needs to be established before pumping is initiated to ensure a good supply, but be sure to allow enough time to get used to pumping before returning to work. There are a variety of pumps available; the double electric one being widely used. There is also the hospital grade pump, which is pricier, but very efficient because it drains the breasts in minutes. You will also want to be sure your baby is comfortable drinking from a bottle before your maternity leave is over.



Make a Schedule

Your baby is your best guide. If your baby needs a feed every 4 hours, you should try and express that frequently too. Ideally, you should be able to express every 3 hours. If a pumping session is missed once in a while, that’s okay. If this happens on a regular basis, it can affect milk production.

A demanding work schedule might not permit pumping more than once during working hours. In that case, you can supplement breast milk with formula. You also want to be sure to start your day with a healthy breakfast, drink a lot throughout the day, and have a nutritious snack during every pumping session.

 mother and baby

Find a Caregiver Close to Work

A relative or caregiver close to work would allow the mother to offer her baby a direct breastfeed rather than pump. The caregiver could bring the baby to the workplace too. Since this is not always possible, a good rapport between the mother and caregiver is a must. She should understand you and your baby and your needs.

It is always advisable to have a “test-run” of all these recommendations before you go back to work. This will allow you to detect snags in the routine and make you better prepared for the actual day when you do go back to work.

{ MORE: Is Staying Home With Your Kids a Choice or a Necessity? }


Today, working and breastfeeding need not be mutually-exclusive activities; you just need the resolve to make it happen.

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What do you think?

Breastfeeding and the Working Mother

Tell us what you think!


  1. Profile photo of Sara McTigue, CLCEditor Sara McTigue, CLC says:

    She probably won’t want to take a bottle from you, since she knows there are other options. When you aren’t there, and she is hungry, she will take a bottle from someone else.

  2. tried other people as well but someone told me to try a sippy cup can that work for breast milk has anyone tried

  3. i really want to be able to g back to school but i have strictly breast feed my lil one for five months and now i cant get her to take a bottle even with breast milk anyone else have this issue or advise please helpp

  4. Profile photo of ashlaws ashlaws says:

    My supervisors have really tried to cause me problems in regard to pumping even with printed copies of the laws that give me the right to do so. I work 12 hour shifts and only get to pump at my breaks, which is twice throughout the entire shift. Even though I work in an office, they have also tried to keep me from eating snacks throughout the day as well.

  5. Profile photo of Athena Athena says:

    i did the same thing…came to work when Adisynn was just 4wks old. i was worried about the same thing..will she eat enough, will still want me after leaving so soon, will she suffer emotionally…lots of different things. fortunately, my husband and i could afford for him to stay home while i came back to work. he runs his own business and could handle things once i got off. its has worked out great! my employer and fellow employees work well w/ me in regards to pumping. sometimes it gets a little frustrating, just because i have to stop my work to go to the restroom for about a half hour!!! but its been great!! everyone is supportive, including my husband! and our babygirl is growing happy and healthy!!

  6. Profile photo of Nicole Nicole says:

    Best of luck! You will find that it gets much easier with time. You’ll be able to establish a routine and it will just be a part of your day. Determination will get you through the beginning, then it will be smooth sailing from there!

  7. Profile photo of Martesia Martesia says:

    i work FT and breastfed until my daughter was 9 months old, the only reason I stopped is because i dried up. Right before i returned to work I started pumping on a schedule close to the times I took my breaks and lunch so it worked out great. I normally take my lunch to work so no one noticed when I started bringing an extra cooler to sit in the office fridge to store the milk. there are also ice packs that help and unless you have a unusually warm/hot work place, It’ll be fine untill you can get it home.

  8. If you have an HR dept at your company I recommend getting together with them. Some states require you advising your employer before returning to work that you intend to bf while working. Good luck.

  9. I pump 3-4 times a day at work. Communication helps. For sure.

  10. I was in the same situation. Depending on your state there are laws in place to protect your right. for every 4 hours in oregon we are allowed a full 30 min unpaid break to pump. I worked at a hotel while BF my first and it was hard. But you do what you have to do and just make sure to communicate with your employer. I just locked up my office and put a note on the front desk saying Lactating mommy on break be back and then put what time to expect me back. I also had the phone in the lobby set up to where if they really needed me it rang to the phone in the room that I was pumping at. Its only as hard as you make it. Good luck and congrats. If you have any questions please feel free to message me.

  11. I have working full time and breastfeeding for 5 months. My manager did not see eye to eye untill i educated her on my rights as a lactating mother. We then sat down with HR and drew up a plan that fit my schedule and allowed for others to feel comfertable with me taking over the only room available to me for 20 min at a time. there has been struggles but its been working out smoothly. I get 16-20 oz of milk in my 8 hour work day more then what my little man eats. He just started solids also so I have a nice stash for just in case events.

  12. Profile photo of Rdcarls Rdcarls says:

    It is important to communicate with your employer. I told them I needed the time to pump in the morning and afternoon (my lunch hour is my time and so I pump then as well). We made a plan to allow this and I rarely miss a pumping session.

  13. Profile photo of becca89 becca89 says:

    I know i am so worried about going back to work just four weeks after i have my baby. My whole family is pressureing me to breast feed at least to a year. my mother thinks there is no other way. I want to breast feed but im so confused on how that is going to work??? I so scared of leaving my baby and the mikl spilling or spoiling some how and the baby is left with out

  14. Profile photo of Anngelica Anngelica says:

    already having problems with just going to my dr. appointments…so this should be interesting 🙁

  15. Profile photo of venusasagirl venusasagirl says:

    Going back to work in 1 week. I already put it to the boss that I needed to pump on my lunch break. Cant wait to see what her reaction is when it really is happening at work.

  16. Profile photo of Leeana Leeana says:

    Thats horrible that you had to risk providing what your child can greatly benefit from due to your boss/work

  17. Profile photo of Leeana Leeana says:

    I think that by law you have to be allowed privacy and time to pump. Now that you are early in your pregnancy, you should talk to your employer or look in your employee handbook to find out and be more prepared for your return after having your baby.

  18. Profile photo of MLS MLS says:

    Very good to know just in case I decide to go to work one day.

  19. Profile photo of Paige Paige says:

    i work in a hotel and just found out i am pregnant with my 2nd child i work 8 hour shifts and i work alone on my shift so there is no one to watch the counter when i pump im worried i wont be able to brest feed when i go back to work after i have my baby

  20. Profile photo of TF11109 TF11109 says:

    this was very helpful

  21. Profile photo of Lady Lady says:

    I was a middle school teacher when I had my second. There was no place to pump at school even though I had two 45 minute free periods during the day. One of those periods was my lunch and the other period I didn’t always have free. Several times a week there were meetings, so even though I attempted to breastfeed in the evening and at night, my supply started to decrease. It is definitely helpful to have a supportive boss and a place to pump.

  22. Profile photo of momof6 momof6 says:

    I am so greatful that my boss is allowing me the time to pump. I try to arrive at work early enough that I can pump before I start and then on my lunch and again in the afternoon before I leave. I hope this will work for long term.

  23. This is a tough situation even for mom’s who work part-time. I am a part-time OR nurse and with my first child I had a hard time finding time between surgeries to pump. I will be returning to work part-time at the beginning of June after having my second and have already begun to put together a plan to talk with my boss to see if we can find a way for me to be able to pump 2-3 times during my 10-12 hour days. I think it is very important for breastfeeding moms to talk with their managers/bosses and formulate a plan on how they can get the optimal amount of pumping they need to get throughout the work day.

  24. Profile photo of Brenda Brenda says:

    I am so nervous about this… going back to work and trying to continue breastfeeding. With my first 2 children I stayed home, but my husband was laid off recently, so now I’m the main bread winner. Pumping, storing, etc is ging to be so stressful! Great article to get me started though!