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Returning to work - your breastfeeding options

Combining breastfeeding and work can be done in a number of ways. Whether you will express and / or breastfeed your baby during your workday, or even spend some days working from home will depend on your work situation and childcare arrangements. 

Different mums combine breastfeeding and working in different ways. Here are some options for you to consider. 

Expressing at work   

You’ll need a private room with:   

  • a comfortable chair,   
  • a refrigerator where you can store expressed breastmilk,   
  • somewhere to store an electric breast pump or manual breast pump, and   
  • time to express milk during lunch break and other breaks if necessary.  

Breastfeeding at work 

You may be able to have your baby brought to you at work. Discuss the possibility of breastfeeding during breaks and lunchtime, as well as flexible work hours and breaks.

Going to your baby to breastfeed

Some mums are fortunate enough to have childcare onsite or very close to their workplace. Breaks are for breastfeeding rather than pumping.  

Lactation breaks   

When you negotiate with your employer, you should be given time for one or more breaks. You can use these breaks to: 

  • express (including labelling and storing of milk and cleaning of equipment) 
  • feed your baby if they are brought to you  
  • take your expressed milk to your baby  
  • go to feed your baby if child care is on-site or nearby.  

Practical considerations for expressing at work  

You will need a place to store your breast pump and other equipment and a good quality cooler bag with ice bricks for transporting expressed milk home.

Many mums find that expressing while at work can take getting used to. If the space you use to express isn’t a lockable room, you may be anxious about privacy. If your break is short, you may be anxious that there isn’t enough time. Feeling stressed may mean your let-down reflex takes a little longer to kick in. Read more about helping your let-down while expressing.

Combining breastfeeding with other options  

If your baby is older than 12 months, you can replace feeds with milk from a cup and continue to breastfeed when you are together. This way you have no need for bottles. 

If your baby is younger, you may decide to go with formula feeds while you’re at work and then breastfeed for the rest of the day, at night and on days when you aren’t working etc.  Breastfeeding certainly doesn’t have to be ‘all or nothing’.


© Australian Breastfeeding Association May 2022

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