Can I still breastfeed when I go back to work?

Yes! You can do it! Breastfeeding keeps you connected to your baby, even when you are away. Employers and co-workers benefit because breastfeeding moms often need less time off for sick babies.

More and more women are breastfeeding when they return to work. There are many companies selling effective breast pumps and storage containers for your milk. Many employers are willing to set up special rooms for mothers who pump. After you have your baby, try to take as much time off as possible, since it will help you get breastfeeding well established and also reduce the number of months you may need to pump your milk while you are at work.

If you plan to have your baby take a bottle of expressed breast milk while you are at work, you can introduce your baby to a bottle when he or she is around four weeks old. Otherwise, the baby might not accept the bottle later on. Once your baby is comfortable taking a bottle, it is a good idea to have dad or another family member offer a bottle of pumped breast milk on a regular basis so the baby stays in practice.

Let your employer and/or human resources manager know that you plan to continue breastfeeding once you return to work. Before you return to work, or even before you have your baby, start talking with your employer about breastfeeding. Don’t be afraid to request a clean and private area where you can pump your milk. If you don’t have your own office space, you can ask to use a supervisor’s office during certain times. Or you can ask to have a clean, clutter free corner of a storage room. All you need is a chair, a small table, and an outlet if you are using an electric pump. Many electric pumps also can run on batteries and don’t require an outlet. You can lock the door and place a small sign on it that asks for some privacy. You can pump your breast milk during lunch or other breaks. You could suggest to your employer that you are willing to make up work time for time spent pumping milk.

After pumping, you can refrigerate your milk, place it in a cooler, or freeze it for the baby to be fed later. Many breast pumps come with carrying cases that have a section to store your milk with ice packs. If you don’t have access to a refrigerator, you can leave it at room temperatures for: 66°-72°F for up to ten hours or 72°-79°F for up to six hours.

Many employers are NOT aware of state laws that state they have to allow you to breastfeed at your job. Under these laws, your employer is required to set up a space for you to breastfeed and/or allow paid/unpaid time for breastfeeding employees. To see if your state has a breastfeeding law for employers, go to or call us at 1-800-994-WOMAN (9662).