Breastfeeding When Returning to Work or School

Congratulations on your decision to continue breastfeeding your baby! The benefits of breastfeeding are dose-related….the longer you breastfeed, the more you and your baby benefit! 👍

Your baby will go through many growth spurts in the first year. They can cause your baby to nurse longer and more often. These growth spurts typically happen at 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months. Sometimes growth spurts happen just when mom is planning on going back to work or school. But don’t worry! You can work or go to school and keep breastfeeding!

Learn about your breastfeeding rights. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires most employers to provide a reasonable break time to express breast milk for 1 year after the child’s birth each time the employee needs to pump. Employers are also required to provide a place that is NOT a bathroom that is shielded from view and free from intrusion.

Talk to your employer or school about your needs and your schedule. Use the SD Employer Breastfeeding Accommodation Form to help start this conversation with your employer or supervisor. The Form will help to think through time, space and privacy to pump or time and flexibility to go and breastfeed your child directly.

Talk with your childcare provider about your plan to continue offering breast milk so they understand and support your breastfeeding goals. Breastfeed your baby before you leave for work or school and ask the caregiver not to feed baby right before you pick up at the end of the day. Cuddle up with baby as soon as you are home to breastfeed and bond after time apart.

It’s important to pump at least the same number of times your baby feeds while you are apart. 

This will helps to:

  • keep your milk supply up,
  • help your breasts feel more comfortable,
  • prevent leaking, and
  • prevent breast infections.

Find more tips to balance work or school and breastfeeding in the WIC Library.

WIC has breast pumps to help make your transition possible!

Contact your WIC office to request a breast pump or talk to a Certified Lactation Counselors (CLCs).

Contact your WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for support and to sign up for statewide Zoom breastfeeding classes and lactation support groups. It can help to connect with working, breastfeeding mothers to get peer support and encouragement.

WIC will share many great resources to help you meet your breastfeeding goal. One is the HUG Your Baby Roadmap to Breastfeeding Success. The Roadmap shows important changes that take place throughout the first year as baby grows and develops. One change, or stage, is when mom returns to work or school. Watch this video for some great tips.

Video Source: HUG Your Baby by Jan Tedder