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Going back to work and breastfeeding

Return to Work

Going back to work does not mean you have to stop breastfeeding, even if you are apart from your baby all day.  Many mothers manage to continue breastfeeding.

Managing Return to Work

There are different options to help you continue breastfeeding when you go back to work. How you decide to manage it will depend on your circumstances such as the hours you work and how old your baby is.

Suggestions to help you continue to breastfeeding include:

How your employer should help

In the UK, there are some things that your employer must do to support you and some things that are recommended but they don’t have to do. If you want to keep breastfeeding when you go back to work then you should tell your employer in writing beforehand so that they can prepare. It might help to provide your employer with information about the benefits of breastfeeding.  For example, your baby is less likely to become ill if you breastfeed which means you are less likely to need time off work to care for them!

Legal Obligations 

Your employer is required by law to support you to continue breastfeeding.  This means that they must:

Your employer must NOT:

You might need supporting evidence from your GP or other advocate to change a particular condition of your work (e.g. to reduce your hours or not work nights). More information at

Good Practice

Your employer must provide a space for you to rest, including somewhere to lie down.  Ideally, this space will be a private, healthy, and safe environment in which to express your milk.

Ideally, your employer should allow you:

Expressing milk at work

If you wish to, you can express milk while you are at work to give your baby the next time you are away from him. Your employer should allow you breaks to do this! This can also help reduce the risk of feeling uncomfortable or engorged, or leaking milk while you are at work.

You can either hand express your milk or use a pump. Please read our guidance on expressing.

If you don’t have access to a fridge at work, you should store your milk in a cool bag and put it in the fridge as soon as you get home.

Tip! Milk expressed on a Friday can be kept until the following Monday in the back of the fridge.

Making a plan

Your health visitor or breastfeeding group can help you make a plan for how you will keep breastfeeding when you go back to work.  It’s a good idea to let your employer know your plans before you return so they can make any changes needed to support you. You might also want to have one or two trial runs when you leave your baby with someone else for a few hours or perhaps a full day. This will help you plan for how to give them the milk they need when you are apart from them.


Older Babies

Exclusive breastfeeding- that is nothing except breastmilk-  is recommended for 6 months to give your baby the healthiest start, and then continuing to breastfeed alongside the introduction of foods.

If your baby is now eating a range of other foods in addition to breastfeeding, you might find he naturally reduces his intake of milk while you are at work, and then feeds more from you when you are both together again. This is fine as long as he is receiving other foods during this time.