Recommendations for returning to work or school while breastfeeding.

Recommendations for Returning to Work or School

Congratulations! You have chosen to breastfeed your baby or give baby your breast milk. This helps provide the best nutrition and health for your baby and yourself for a lifetime. The longer you breastfeed or give baby your breast milk, the longer the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding or breast milk "white gold" help your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding baby or providing your breast milk for a year or more. Returning to work or school can be stressful. We hope you find the following tips and information helpful upon your return.

The feeding options available to you upon return to work or school are:

  • Continue providing your breast milk full time to baby.
    • Work from home
    • Have baby brought to you at work to nurse
    • Go to baby on breaks or lunch to nurse. (if daycare is nearby)
    • Pump about every 3 hours at work and continue to nurse baby when home
    • Take your pumped breast milk to daycare for baby
  • Partially Wean (pump 0-1 time at work). Continue to nurse baby frequently when home. (Some mother's find this causes a decrease in their supply and others continue with a good supply)
    • About 1 week before returning to work, space breastfeeding or pumping during the time you would be at work, so you are producing less milk during your work hours.
    • Offer baby either pumped milk or formula from the bottle during these times.
    • Continue to nurse or pump frequently when not at work to maintain your supply.
    • Baby may want to nurse a lot when you are home. This will help your milk supply.
  • Totally Wean (no nursing or pumping, use your frozen supply)
    • Wean slowly and gradually
    • About 2 weeks before you return to work, stop or space a feeding or pumping. Continue to stop or space another feeding every 3-4 days.
    • Continue your morning and bedtime feedings or pumpings the longest. You may want to nurse baby morning and night for several weeks after returning to work. This makes going to daycare less stressful and continues a wonderful bond for you and baby.

Before returning to work or school, you will need to:

  • Build up a supply of frozen breast milk.

  • Try pumping after the first morning breastfeeding as you are usually fuller then. Milk from a couple of pumpings can be added together to freeze in 2-4 ounce amounts.

  • Consider pumping 1-2 times daily after baby has nursed. This "extra" ½ to 1 oz. per day adds to your supply of frozen breast milk needed for return to work or school.

  • Around four weeks of age, offer your baby a bottle of fresh breast milk. Offer a bottle about 2-3 times a week to keep baby in "practice".

  • Discuss your feeding plan with your daycare provider and employer.

  • Make a "practice run" to feel more comfortable with your routine.

    • Pack your supplies.
    • Go to the daycare and work.
    • Pump at work.

Breast Milk Storage and Warming Guidelines 

  • Feed baby fresh breast milk whenever possible. If you pump after the morning breastfeeding, be sure to take that milk to daycare also.

  • Label your milk with name, date, and amount. Refrigerate as soon as possible at daycare.

  • Breast milk may be frozen. Freeze in the smallest amounts your baby may take at a feeding (2-4 ounces). When using frozen breast milk, use the oldest breast milk first. Use frozen breast milk within 24 hours of thawing.

  • Warm breast milk by gently swirling in a cup of warm tap water.

  • Never microwave breast milk as it destroys the germ killing cells.

Breast milk is good for: 

  • 4-6 hours at normal room temperatures (not in direct sunlight).

  • 3-8 days in refrigerator (frozen milk that is thawed must be used within 24 hours after thawing).

  • 6-12 months in a freezer (0-4ºF)

To increase your milk supply you need frequent breastfeeding or pumping, extra rest and calories:

  • Breastfeed or pump more often to make more milk. (removing milk more often is what makes more milk)

  • Breastfeed or pump at least 8 or more times a day to make more milk.

  • Breastfeed or pump at least once in the night to make more milk.

  • Breastfeed or pump before your breasts feel full, to make the most milk. When your breasts feel overfull, this tells your body to make less milk.

  • Breastfeed baby at your daycare provider as soon as you arrive. Instruct your provider not to feed baby for a couple of hours before you arrive. (feed only a small feeding if needed).

  • Breastfeed or pump more often when home with baby. Breastfeeding instead of pumping when you are home with baby helps make more milk.

  • Take time to rest. Ask for help with other household chores/tasks when you are back to work.

  • Eat plenty of nutritious foods and snacks. Don't lose more than1 to 2 pounds a week.

  • Drink liquids whenever you feel thirsty.

Call Allen Hospital's Lactation Consultants with questions or for more information at (319) 235-3620.