Returning to work

When the time comes for you to return to work, it is beneficial for both you and your baby if you are able to carry on breastfeeding, even some of the time. You will both continue to get the health benefits from breastfeeding as well as being able to continue to get the health benefits from breastfeeding as well as being able to continue to enjoy that special closeness that it brings - it is a lovely way to be reunited when you are together again at the end of your working day.

It is worth thinking about how you will manage this several weeks before you go back to work and you can get help with this from your health visitor.

Breastfeeding exclusively (giving your baby no other food or drink) is recommended for around the first 6 months. After this time, breastfeeding is recommended alongside solid food. 

Therefore, it's likely that you'll be breastfeeding when you return to work, training or education.

There are several options. You can: 

  • arrange for childcare close to work or college so that you can breastfeed during breaks, or before and after work – the evening feed can be a wonderful way for you to relax with your baby
  • express breast milk (taking milk from the breast by hand or using a pump) so that someone else can feed your baby while you're at work
  • ask your employer or college for flexible working hours arranged around your breastfeeding needs
  • combine breastfeeding and bottle feeding to fit around your hours.

Think about it early. Before you go back to work or college, tell your employer or tutor you’re breastfeeding.

You may have an HR department that can help. It can make preparations, such as finding you a private room where you can breastfeed or express your milk.

Organising breastfeeding and work

Organising breastfeeding and work

Before returning to work you can:

  • label and date expressed breast milk before putting it in the fridge or freezer so your childminder knows which one to use first
  • have a trial run with childcare before returning to work
  • store breast milk in a sterilised container or in special breast milk storage bags in the fridge for up to 8 days at 4C or lower (you can buy fridge thermometers online) – if you're not sure of the temperature of your fridge, or it’s higher than 4C, use it within 3 days

Information for employers about breastfeeding mothers

Employers have certain legal obligations to breastfeeding mothers. Supporting breastfeeding has business benefits too. These include:

  • reduced absence due to child sickness (breastfed babies are generally healthier)
  • increased staff morale and loyalty, and a subsequently higher rate of return to work
  • lower recruitment and training costs
  • an extra incentive to offer potential employees


Further information can be found at:

Breastfeeding and going back to work - NHS (

Going Back to Work | Breastfeeding | Start4Life (


Improving the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of expectant mothers, infants, children and young people throughout Aneurin Bevan University Health Board Area.

(N.B: The Family and Therapies team at ABUHB is NOT responsible for the content on the webpage links that we refer to in our resource sections and linked information to external sites. All information was accurate and appropriate at the time the webpage was created.)

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