Back to Work
You don't have to stop breastfeeding your baby when you return to work. You can continue to provide him with your milk by pumping and freezing it, so it can be defrosted and fed to him during your work hours.
Unfortunately, there is no national legislation that requires employers to support your efforts to continue breastfeeding. Minnesota is the only state that mandates employers to reasonably accommodate nursing mothers. Talk to your employer about your intention to continue breastfeeding and take the initiative to develop a plan for how often you will need breaks and where in your workplace, if not your own office, you plan to pump.
Organization Is Key
Start to build up a supply of breastmilk in your freezer a month before you return to work. Pump just after you have fed your baby or in between feedings. Don't be discouraged if you don't get much milk at first. Your milk supply will increase after a few days of pumping.
Store milk in breastmilk storage bags (available online and at major retailers) in two-ounce and four-ounce portions (single feeding amounts). The smaller portions are easier to defrost and less milk will be wasted if your baby doesn't finish the bottle (or cup). Label the bags with the date and amount.
Breastmilk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to seventy-two hours. You can freeze breastmilk, but safe storage depends on the temperature of your freezer and where you store the milk. According to the La Leche League you can store breastmilk in:
Freezers located inside a refrigerator — two weeks.
Separate door refrigerator/freezer — three or four months (temperature varies because you open the door frequently).
Separate deep freeze at constant -19°C (0°F) — six months or longer.
Defrosted milk can be kept for up to twenty-four hours in the refrigerator and can be safely kept at room temperature for several hours.
Before you return to work (perhaps before you go on maternity leave), talk to your employer and your coworkers about your intention to breast-feed. If you have on-site day care or your caregiver can bring the baby to you, try to schedule at least one nursing session. If that's not possible you'll want to pump when you would normally feed your baby. You need to know when, where, and how often you can pump. You may need to adapt your schedule so that you can include pumping sessions. With a good pump and practice, you will only need about fifteen minutes to pump both breasts.
Ideally, the room you use for pumping will have privacy, a chair, and electrical outlets. You'll also need a refrigerator for storing your milk (a small, bar-sized one will do). If there is no refrigerator available, many breast pump carrying cases also come with built-in, cooler-type compartments that stay cold enough to store your pumped milk until you can get home.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a helpful web-site on breastfeeding and tips for continuing to nurse when you return to work at
If you don't have a private office, ask if there is a conference room or another space you can use. Sitting on a toilet seat in the restroom is not a reasonable option. Point out to your employer that you will be able to pump more efficiently if you are in a space that is comfortable and private. Some mothers, when faced with no better option than a restroom, have chosen to pump in their cars during their breaks.
Pump It Up
To effectively return to work and pump several times a day, you'll need to invest in or rent an electric breast pump that expresses breast milk from both breasts at once. These cost between $200 and 300, or can be rented for between $30 and $60 a month. You can also purchase car AC adapters, built-in milk coolers, travel cases, and hands-free kits. It may be worth the investment, especially if you plan to have more than one child. A more detailed description of breast pumps can be found in Chapter 7.