Tips on breastfeeding at work for World Breastfeeding Week
This year, World Breastfeeding Week calls for support for all women to combine breastfeeding and work.
Going back to study or work may be the first time a mother has been separated from her baby for long periods. Continuing to breastfeed helps to keep the close relationship mother and baby have built up, providing baby with extra comfort and security, for as long as mother and baby want.
It can sometimes be difficult to go back to work when you are breastfeeding and we have recognised that three elements are seen as essential for success:
Mothers don’t need to stop breastfeeding just because they’re returning to study or work. Many women find ways to continue breastfeeding their baby – and employers have certain obligations towards breastfeeding women.
“My first one breastfed until she was ten and a half months,” said mum Aoife. “I felt really privileged I could do that. I went back to work when she was three months old and I just kept breastfeeding and expressing and somehow juggling world and baby but actually that’s what kept me close and sane was the fact that I breastfed her for that long.”
Ideas for mothers to think about
- Having childcare close to your work or college, so that breastfeeding can continue during breaks or before and after work.
- Breastfeeding at home and express milk so that your baby’s carer can feed your baby while you’re at work.
- Maximising the amount of breastmilk your baby receives. This can include combined breastfeeding and expressed breastmilk feeding, or breastfeeding and formula feeding.
- Talking to employers about putting in place support for expressing or breastfeeding during the working day
“As soon as he was born he latched automatically,” said mother-of-two, Jennifer. “It was fantastic. He just knew what to do and he sucked and the midwives were like “Oh my goodness, look at his cheeks!” and he just… He was born to breastfeed, this baby. You look and you’re watching your baby and you’re feeling them growing and feeding off you and you think “That’s amazing, I did that! Look at this big stonker, I produced that”. I get quite emotional thinking back about it now.”
What can employers do?
Employers should have a policy to support mothers to carry on breastfeeding. Women can ask if their employer has a policy supporting breastfeeding before going on maternity leave.
The policy may include
- flexible breaks so that mothers can express milk
- provision of a clean, warm and private space for expressing
- where possible, access to a fridge to store expressed milk or space for the mother’s own coolbag and icepacks
- flexible working hours
Do you have questions on breastfeeding and work? See our full article for more information on other organisations that can help you.
Useful resources on Baby Friendly website