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Returning to work

Returning to Work and Breastfeeding


Going back to work or study soon? If so, breastfeeding doesn’t have to stop. Many women find that with a little planning and organisation they can continue to breastfeed without problems.

Why continue to breastfeed?

Women find that carrying on breastfeeding helps to keep the close relationship you’ve built up, will continue to protect you and your baby’s health and support your baby’s development. 

The immunity babies’ gain from breastmilk will be particularly beneficial for them during this period, as they become exposed to new environments and mix more with other children.

Continuing to breastfeed also provides your baby with comfort and security, to help them feel settled now they’re spending more time away from you.

Current guidance

Exclusive breastfeeding (giving your baby only breastmilk) is recommended for around the first six months of your baby's life. After that, continuing to breastfeed until baby is 1 year old or over, alongside giving them other food, will help their health and development.

Options for continuing breastfeeding

Some women find they can choose childcare whose location allows them to breastfeed before and after work, and possibly during rest/lunch breaks too.

Other women prefer to express and store their breastmilk in advance, so that they can breastfeed before and after work, and provide their child carer with breastmilk to feed their baby while they’re working.

You can express using a hand breastpump, electric breastpump or by hand expression. For more information about expressing your breastmilk, including sources of electric breastpump hire, see our Expressing Your Breastmilk web page.

Alternatively, some women decide to combine breast and formula feeding: breastfeeding their baby when together and asking their child carer to give their baby formula while they’re at work.

Also, of course on weekends and holidays you can breastfeed as normal.

For more information, click here to download a guide to Breastfeeding at Study or Work 

To speak to someone about your options for continuing breastfeeding after returning to work or study, click here to view our Breastfeeding Support page.

Breastfeeding and the law

Your place of work and study will probably have a breastfeeding policy. It is worth contacting them well in advance to state your intention to continue breastfeeding on your return, so that arrangements can be made.

You can find out how the law supports breastfeeding mothers returning to work via the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website  www.hse.gov.uk/mothers.

For more information on your breastfeeding rights, if you choose to continue to breastfeed when you return to work, see  Maternity Action’s factsheets and the  ACAS guide to “Accommodating breastfeeding employees in the workplace”.

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