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Helpful Hints

Breastfeeding and Working

  • Take full advantage of your maternity leave to establish a good supply of milk before going back to work.
  • Once your milk is well established and your baby is nursing well (at about 4 to 6 weeks), introduce a bottle. This step prepares your baby for bottle-feeding during the day while you are at work. Keep in mind that babies usually associate breastfeeding with mom.  Consequently, in the beginning, some babies are more receptive to a bottle if it is offered to them from someone other than you.
  • Purchase or rent a high-quality, automatic, electric breast pump. For example, Medela’s Lactina® or Pump In Style® are state-of-the-art in performance, safety and convenience. They run on regular electricity or can be battery operated. They also can be powered by a vehicle battery via a cigarette lighter connector. Other smaller pumps may not be able to maintain your milk supply on a long-term basis.
  • Use a double-pumping kit with your electric breast pump. By expressing both breasts simultaneously, most mothers can complete a pumping session in just 10 to 15 minutes, which easily fits into a break period or lunchtime.
  • Breast milk availability works on a supply and demand basis.  Maintaining a good milk supply depends on the regular stimulation provided by baby or by pumping. Double pumping increases your prolactin levels, which helps maintain milk supply. This benefit is important to working mothers who might have difficulty maintaining their milk supply because baby isn’t always available for breast stimulation.
  • To familiarize yourself with the process and help build up milk supply, start using your electric breast pump about one or two weeks before you return to work. Try to simulate what your pumping schedule will be at work.
  • To ease your transition back to work, try to return midweek so that you have only a few days before the weekend. Plan to breastfeed at least once before you leave in the morning. If you can, go home or to your daycare facility at lunchtime to breastfeed, or have your baby brought to you. If breastfeeding during the lunch hour is not possible, plan to pump two to three times during the day at work.  (Remember, if you are using a double-pumping kit, that’s just about 45 minutes out of your workday.)
  • Breastfeed as soon as you can after you return home or reach the day care facility, during the evening, before bed, and on days off as often as possible. Depending on your baby’s age and the amount of time you spend away from him or her, you might be able to reduce the number of pumping sessions at work to one or two times a day.
  • If your company does not make a special room available for mothers who are breast pumping, find a spot that is as private and comfortable as possible. Bring along a picture of your baby, something to drink and perhaps a small snack. If you have difficulty letting down, take a few deep breaths, listen to some soothing music or imagine your baby nursing.
  • You can store the milk you pump each day so that it is available for your baby the following day while you are at work. If a refrigerator is not available, use a cooler case. Medela offers a number of options, including a soft-sided carrying case for the Lactina Breast pump with a built-in cooler.
  • Human milk can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days. If you must keep it longer than 5-7 days, label the bottles with the date and store them in a home freezer as soon as possible. Breast milk will keep in the home freezer for up to six months or up to 12 months in a -20º C freezer. Thaw frozen milk in warm water; do not microwave or boil it.


Content provided with permission from Medela, Inc


For more information or to discuss lactation support concerns please contact Partners Employee Assistance Program at 1-866-724-4EAP.

In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.

This content was last modified on: 08/21/2008

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In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.

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