‘Extended breastfeeding’ – returning to work

If you are a breastfeeding mother returning to work, it will likely be mentioned. As a former midwife, we recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months, but many women don’t want to stop after this.

extended breastfeeding returning to work

There are health benefits to extended breastfeeding as research shows breast milk’s antibacterial and antimicrobial properties supports babies’ immature immune systems.

Other health benefits include:

  1. Reducing the likelihood of obesity during childhood.
  2. Fewer tummy troubles.
  3. Less ear infections.
  4. Increased immunity, through transfer of mother’s antibodies in the breastmilk.

Fun fact: as your milk supply decreases, the levels of antibodies in your milk increase, giving your baby extra protection against infection (particularly beneficial if they are in a nursery, where infections are common)!

Microbiology assessment testing breastmilk properties at 3, 6, 18 months (photo credit Vicky Greene)

Returning to work when breastfeeding

Your choices are in relation to continuing breastfeeding, whatever these may be, should be supported.

As the founder of Lotus Maternity, a company I have nursed (no pun intended) since training as a midwife, I actively work to support breastfeeding.

Here are my top tips if you do decide to return to work whilst nursing

  • Plan ahead!
  • Introduce a bottle between 4-6 weeks of age, preferably during what will later become your working hours.

However, if you are returning to work after 6 months, an open cup or free flowing feeder is better for baby to drink from, as teats or spouts can lead to future oral developmental issues.

  • Get proficient with your pump.

This will help you feel more confident expressing milk and means you will have some stored up for your first day back to work, which can be useful in case supply isn’t as good. Remember to practise sterilising and cleaning equipment too!

  • Rehearse your routine.

If you can, find out if there’s an appropriate place to express in your workplace, where you can store your breastmilk and if there’s anywhere to wash your pump. Also, think about practising expressing milk outside of your home, so you get used to doing it without any home comforts.

  • Start slow.

If you’re a full-time worker, perhaps start on a Thursday so you only work two days in the first week, giving you the weekend to evaluate how everything went.

  • Work part time, if you can.

Working short days /half days is often more practical than working fewer long ones, as you may not even have to miss any feeds, and you’ll be spending more time with your baby! Working nights may also work well when the little one is sleeping through, as you’ll miss fewer feeds.

  • Wear clothing which helps, not hinders.

Clothing which opens from the front is best, so you can easily access your breasts. Although spontaneous leaking should have subsided by now (unless you’re returning to work soon after having your baby), breast pads may be useful, just in case! `

P.S. If you’re struggling with finding suitable nursing outfits, check out our premium, award-winning, British made range today.

Olivia Swift, Lotus Maternity