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: More Workplaces Are Giving Employees Miscarriage Leave }


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

Read More

What do you think?

Breastfeeding and the Working Mother

Tell us what you think!


  1. Jessica says:

    I currently work at a nursing home and was always hard too much work to do to take any breaks other than the half hour break I had to punch out for before I had my baby, my coworkers don’t have time for breaks either, there’s just too much work and not enough people to do it. Before I had my son, I told my supervisor and coworkers that I would need time to pump. The supervisor told me not to worry and that we would “figure something out”. We haven’t really and I’ve been having to go four to five hours without pumping, and my son still eats every two to three during the day (he does go for five to eight hour stretches without eating at night though). My milk supply has always been and still is abundant and I usually produce more that my baby needs, but I am concerned that my supply will drop if I keep this up, so I am switching jobs. I have also been a bit nervous about giving my baby the milk I express at work, because I work around alot of sick people and I don’t feel like the place I was told to pump in is very clean.

  2. Alyssa says:

    I work a straight 8 hr shift. 🙁 i can usually sneak away for one pump session in the middle of the shift. I pump right before i leave (3:30 am) pump between 8-9. and feed her immediately when I get home. I wish i could get two pumps in but its too busy for me to sneak away for 20min to pump. I’ve started making lactation cookies, there’s a recipe on, my supply seems to be suffering from not being able to pump and brewers yeast sure is nasty by itself. lol. my daughter is a little stinker when it comes to the bottle, she’ll take it from me and other women but not Daddy. she loves him, coos and smiles, looks for him when she hears him talking but will not eat from him, we’ve tried everything. lol

  3. RBirri says:

    For those who are having trouble getting baby to take the bottle try having the father or someone else offer the bottle. My little lady wouldn’t take it from me or even if I was in the room at first, because she knows the real thing is near by. We tried several bottles but the only one she would take is the Tommee Tippee. It’s wide at the top with a more broad nipple, much more like a breast than other bottles. Now that I am back to work I am nursing her at 5am, getting to work at 7, pumping at 8, 11, and 2 and then nursing her when we get home at 5 and for the remainder of the evening. It is a lot of work to keep up with the pumping and washing and setting up bottles every evening but I am fully committed to breastfeeding and it’s becoming a routine that’s working really well.

  4. luckily I haven’t had any issues with nursing and pumping. I nurse my DD as close to when I have to leave in the morning as possible(around 7 am), get to work at 8 am, pump at 9:30, 12 and 3, leave work at 5 and nurse my DD as close as possible to when I get home(between 5:30-6). It seems to work pretty well, I have about a months worth of milk stored in the freezer. I introduced a bottle once every couple days starting at 3 weeks. She definitely prefers nursing over a bottle though. I definitely think it’s worth pumping while I’m at work….health wise and for our budget. It makes for a longer day, but I’m willing to do it!

  5. hi,iam varsha fron india,i have 6 weeks girl baby & she is unable to catch my breast nipple due to short length nipple.I dont know h i have to breast feed milk through my nipple,plzz guide me have to take action against this.

    • I suggest finding a lactation consultant to work with you on various holds to help with the latch. In the meantime, a nipple shield may work to give baby something to latch to and keep things going for you.

  6. Sure, better to just pump than not feed breastmilk at all, but I encourage everyone to nurse too as it’s a great source of comfort when the baby is upset , in pain or overtired. In the last case, it takes me about 2 minutes to put her to sleep thanks to nursing.

  7. Sierra-Dawn says:

    I am not working right now . Good and bad thing: /
    My sister in-law had to go to the other side of the country for work. She had her milk express shipped from NY to CA.

  8. sheenaholman says:

    My work has been good with me. So Grateful!

  9. Shelagh says:

    Inform HR. If the harassment doesn’t stop call corp office HR. Keep going to the top. You have the law on your side. When you call remain calm and controlled. If something is said that really upsets you, make a note of it and inform them that a lawyer will be your next call. Hang up. Do not engage.

  10. Shelagh says:

    My son was the same way. Try a couple different kinds of bottles. We ended up on the Tommee Tippers. They have a very breast like shape. He STILL wont take a bottle if I am anywhere in the vicinity (12 weeks old). But daddy and caregivers have some success after I leave. Good Luck.

  11. Ada says:

    This is encouraging to know it’s possible at work.

  12. Grace says:

    i too am having difficulty with this, chris has a good idea though to keep trying different bottles, if only i had more moeny to buy different bottles

  13. ChrisS says:

    My 3 months old son is like that. He prefers breast feed than feeding using the bottle. It was difficult until I found what particular nipple bottle he needs. I tried so many bottles with different brands until I found out that my son likes the one that looks like my breast nipple. I believe your daughter might like a particular nipple. Try and see which one she prefer.

  14. Mommy2_3Men says:

    I’m breast feeding baby number 3 and am not looking forward to returning to work. I know it’s going to be a challenge since I’m in the military to continue once I go back but I’m willing to try for my baby boy 🙂

  15. tammy says:

    I give props to mother’s that breastfeed!

  16. Stephanie says:

    I breastfeed & sometimes pump but my babygil dosen’t like bottles

    & im thinking to go back to work but she dont ike bottles so i dont know what to do???

  17. MissMichell says:

    i breast feed & pump so i can go back to work when we are ready

  18. You can use the pump, but if you are planning on nursing directly from the breast at any point it is important to establish a good latch, which happens best early on. Also, the skin-to-skin contact of nursing will stimulate milk production much better than a pump can!

  19. Everything that I have read has said to establish breastfeeding before pumping…is it not possible to only use the pump? It seems like it would work the same as long as I did it consistently…

  20. momma5 says:

    i am breastfeeding only and that is all he will take he wont even take a bottle. so i cant pump either. i talked to the doctor she said to let him sip it out of a medicine cup hes only three months old

  21. 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.

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

  23. 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

  24. 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.

  25. 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!!

× Week-by-Week Newsletter

Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year! Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year!

Due Date or Baby's Birth Date

By clicking the "Join Now" button you are agreeing to the terms of use and privacy policy.

Send this to a friend