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!
Your employer is required by law to support you to continue breastfeeding. This means that they must:
- Provide a space for you to rest, including somewhere to lie down.
- Complete a risk assessment and ensure your working environment is safe for you to continue breastfeeding.
- Change your working conditions if they interfere with breastfeeding.
Your employer must NOT:
- Delay your return to work (unpaid) or limit your access to training because you are breastfeeding.
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 www.hse.gov.uk/mothers
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:
- breaks in order to express milk
- a clean fridge to store your expressed milk
- flexible working hours.
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.
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.