Returning to work or school

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding moms have plenty of options as they plan for returning to work or school. It’s not as hard as you might think! While many mothers return to work after one year of maternity leave, breastfeeding is recommended for up to two years and beyond.

Breastfeeding is a human right in Ontario

According to the Ontario Human Rights Code, an employer should accommodate any needs women have for breastfeeding or expressing milk for their child. Supporting breastfeeding mothers makes good business sense too, as their babies are less likely to get sick and therefore these women will require less time away from work to care for ill children.

HaltonParents breastfeeding blogs:

Breastfeeding and returning to work? Oh my!
Breastfeeding a three-year old? TIME has got us talking.

Breastfeeding options

Breastfeeding is a great way to re-connect with your child at the end of the work day.

Depending on the age of your baby and your situation, here are some options for you to consider:

  • You might be able to pump or hand express at work to keep the same number of breastmilk feeds per day.
  • Babies older than six months can be fed breastmilk from an open cup when you are at work. It can also be mixed into baby’s food, such as infant cereal.
  • Some babies don’t like taking breastmilk in any other way than at the breast. In this case, your baby could drink water (if older than 6 months) or homogenized milk (if older than 9 months) from a cup while you are at work.
  • You might be able to visit your child during the work day to breastfeed, or have your care provider bring your child to you.
  • You might wean your baby from the breastfeeds you will miss during the work day. Many mothers find that both they and their babies can adapt quite easily to less breastfeeds on working days and more when mom is at home.

Tips to help you transition back to work or school

Breastfeeding strengthens your baby’s immune system, so they’re less likely to get sick when starting child care.

Like any change, the return to work or school will go more smoothly if you take some time to plan ahead.

Some tips to help with the transition back to work or school:

  • Discuss your plans with your employer ahead of time.
  • Talk to your employer about being a baby-friendly organization.
  • Speak with other women who have combined work or school with breastfeeding.
  • Begin to store breast milk before returning to work or school.
  • Expressed breast milk may be stored in a refrigerator or a cooler bag with ice packs.

For strategies to help you adjust to the return to work, review the Returning to Work After Baby booklet from Ontario’s Best Start program.