Breastfeeding and the working mom
Can I continue to breastfeed once I return to work?
Yes, you can. If you live near work or have on-site or nearby daycare, you may be able to take nursing breaks to feed your baby. If that's not possible, you have two choices:
Option 1: You can keep up your milk supply by using a high-quality electric breast pump to express milk during the workday. Your child's caregiver can give your baby bottles of your expressed breast milk. (You can also supplement with formula if you can't produce enough milk.) You'll still be able to nurse your child whenever you're not at work.
The U.S. Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), signed into law in 2010, requires employers to provide moms of babies younger than 12 months a reasonable break time for pumping and a private place to pump, other than a bathroom. (Employers with fewer than 50 employees don't have to comply if compliance would create "undue hardship.") For more details, read this U.S. government fact sheet.
Option 2: If you can't or don't want to pump at work, you can gradually replace daytime feedings with formula while you're still at home but continue to nurse at night and in the morning. Remember, though, that if you don't nurse or pump during the day, your milk supply will diminish.
What are the advantages of pumping at work?
Pumping at work stimulates your milk production, so you'll have plenty of milk available when you nurse. Your baby will have the health and nutritional advantages of breast milk even when you're not there. What's more, pumping can be a wonderful way to feel connected to your baby during the workday.
You'll save money by not buying formula (or not as much of it). And you may avoid missed workdays, because breastfed babies are half as likely to get sick in their first year as those on formula.
One of the best things about continuing to breastfeed is coming home to a baby who wants to nurse. You get to snuggle right away, re-establish your bond, and nurture your baby in a way no one else can.
To make sure your baby will want to nurse when you get home, ask your caregiver not to feed him during the last hour of the workday, or to feed him just enough to take the edge off any hunger. Then you and your baby can look forward to a warm reunion every day.