Can You Still Breastfeed
When You Return to Work or School?
Many breastfeeding mothers are surprised to learn that breastfeeding does not
have to end upon their return to work or school. The Canadian Paediatric
Society (1999) supports continued breastfeeding, with the appropriate
introduction of solid foods “for up to 2 years of age and beyond”. You and your
baby can continue to benefit from breastfeeding after your return to work or
school; however, this requires commitment, determination and organization.
It is recommended that you develop a plan of how to combine breastfeeding and
working or school life. Your plan may include using childcare at your workplace
or school, finding childcare close to your work, or pumping breast milk with an
electric or manual pump at work and storing for a later feeding. You may also
choose to breastfeed your baby before and after you go to work. Share your plan
with your support persons and childcare provider so that they can support you
during this time of transition.
It is also important to present your plan to your employer or school prior to
your return. In the province of Ontario, the Human Rights Commission states
that employers are required to accommodate women who are breastfeeding. Thus,
by informing your supervisor of your plan, you can get further support needed to
continue breastfeeding. Depending upon your place of employment or where you
attend school, you may be able to bring your baby to work, leave briefly to go
and breastfeed your baby, or have a suitable place where it is comfortable for
you to pump your breasts and safely store your breast milk. These are all
possibilities that need to be negotiated with your employer/school prior to your
return. Keep in mind that you may have to be flexible in your plan in order to
meet your goal of continuing to provide breast milk to your baby.
Continuing to breastfeed your baby while returning to the workforce or attending
school has many rewards for both you. During this transition period you may
have questions or concerns. Call Public Health 1-800-263-3456 and ask to speak
to a Public Health Nurse regarding breastfeeding. Or visit our website at
www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca, click on Family Health, then
Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada & Health Canada (1998).
for healthy term infants. Ottawa ON: Public Works and Government Services
Grey Bruce Health Unit, (2004) Breastfeeding – Returning to work [Online].
January 7, 2005. Available at:
La Leche League International (1997). The breastfeeding answerbook. (Revised
Schaumburg, IL: La Leche League International Inc.
Perth District Health Unit (2004). Pamphlet: “Breastfeeding and returning to
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