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Return to work, study or other planned separation from your baby

Some breastfeeding women will spend some time away from their baby. If this is the case for you may need to think about how you can maintain your milk supply when separated from your baby for a smooth return to breastfeeding when you are back together.

Mum breastfeeding in the library

Issues for you to consider:

First establish breastfeeding
  • Allow yourself to recover from your birthing, get to know your baby and try to enjoy the first few months without worrying about your return to work/study

  • Get a good milk supply going with frequent painless feeding which will also help to prevent any feeding problems       

  • Gain your confidence in your supply, ability to express, recognising your babies feeding cues and behaviours

Think about whether you actually need to express at work/study
  • How old is your baby and how many hours are you going to be away from each other? This will allow you to work out if you will be missing any breast feeds during your separation. If your baby has started solids and/or is having milk from other sources you may find that you do not need to express.

  • Childcare choices may have an impact on you breastfeeding. For example, if your baby is going to be cared for near to your place of work/study can you visit your baby for a breast feed during your working day?

Plan ahead
  • Purchase of any kit for expressing and storage and plan to keep spare equipment at your workplace/educational settings

  • If your baby is going to have your expressed milk then you will need to start expressing to obtain a stock of expressed breast milk

  • Speak with other women who have had a similar experience

  • Know your rights 

  • Discuss with your employer - let your employer know your plans to return to work and breastfeeding, highlight the benefits for your employer in terms of your baby’s health and less time needed for you to take time of work for ill-health. Negotiate how you can both be flexible to establish a plan to enable optimal milk supply during your working day.

Breastfeeding and returning to work
Celebrate returning home to your baby
  • Enjoy reuniting with your baby as only you can provide the comfort of a breastfeed

  • Maintaining your breastfeeding will reinforce the protective properties from your breastmilk in protecting your baby when mixing with other people in their child care environment

  • Some babies save their breastmilk intake for your return so be prepared for your baby wanting to breastfeed more in the evening

  • Any breast milk is better than none


Other tasks
  • Care of yourself during this transition period

  • Who is going to help you with household tasks
  • Childcare for other children
  • Cleaning and sterilising of the expressing kit ready for tomorrow
Breastfeeding after returning to work or study

Useful Information:

Maternity action - continuing to breastfeed when you return to work

Start for life - breastfeeding after returning to work or study

Maternity action

NHS Choices - breastfeeding and going back to work

ACAS - Accomodating breastfeeding employees in the workplace