Breastfeeding after returning to work

Breastfeeding after returning to work 2024-03-09T09:48:55-05:00

Preparing for work during maternity leave

Take as many weeks off as you can. At least six weeks of leave can help you recover from childbirth and settle into good breastfeeding routine. Twelve weeks is even better. Practice expressing your milk by hand or with a breast pump. A breast pump may be the best method for efficiently removing milk during the workday. A hands-free breast pump may even allow you to work while pumping if you have a laptop or an office with a door that you can close. Help your baby adjust to taking breastmilk from a bottle (or cup for infants 3 to 4 months old). Babies used to nursing might prefer a bottle or cup when it’s given by someone else. Wait at least a month before introducing a bottle to your infant.  Talk with your family and your child care provider about your desire to breastfeed. Let them know you will need their support.

Get a quality breast pump

A good-quality electric breast pump may be your best strategy for efficiently removing milk during the workday. Electric pumps that allow you to express milk from both breasts at the same time reduce pumping time. See section “Where to get pumps?” for more information on breast pumps and how to work with your insurance company to get them

Find a private place to express milk

Work with your supervisor to find a private place to express your milk. The Affordable Care Act (the health care law) supports work-based efforts to assist nursing mothers. Employers are required to provide reasonable break times in a private place (other than a bathroom) for nursing women to express milk while at work. (Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to comply if it would cause the company financial strain.)

If your company does not provide a private lactation room, find another private area you can use. You may be able to use an office with a door, a conference room, or a little-used storage area. The room should be private and secure from intruders when in use. The room should also have an electrical outlet if you are using an electric breast pump. Explain to your supervisor that it is best not to express milk in a restroom. Restrooms are unsanitary, and there are usually no electrical outlets. It can also be difficult to manage a pump in a toilet stall.

Useful links for moms going back to work/school


NYS Department of Labor

NYS Breastfeeding Coalition


NYS Breastfeeding in Public and Workplace Law 

New York Statewide Breastfeeding Coalition Inc. Protect, Promote and Support Breastfeeding