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Returning to work: Explore your breastfeeding options

Exploring the various options available will help to make this transition as smooth as possible

For many mothers, navigating the transition back to work while maintaining breastfeeding is an opportunity to explore new ways to balance their professional and personal lives.

Pumping at laptop

Firstly, let's talk about what is a lactation break:

A lactation break is a period of time during the workday when a mother can breastfeed her baby or express. Workplace laws support breastfeeding mothers by providing provisions for expressing milk and breastfeeding breaks.


Discussing lactation breaks with your employer

There are multiple ways to balance and combine breastfeeding with work. Whether you choose to express milk, breastfeed during breaks, or even work remotely on certain days, it will depend on your work situation and childcare arrangements. 

Remember, what suits someone else might not be the perfect fit for you, so it's essential to find the approach that works best for your unique situation.

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

Expressing when at work

You’ll need a private room with:   

  • a comfortable chair
  • adequate lactation break time 
  • access to a refrigerator to safely store expressed breastmilk
  • storage or designated space to keep your electric breast pump or manual breast pump  

Breastfeeding at work 

You may be able to have your baby brought to you at work to breastfeed. 

Discuss and talk about the option of breastfeeding during breaks with your employer, as well as having flexible work hour and breaks.

Going to your baby to breastfeed

For some mums, they're lucky to have childcare located onsite or nearby their workplace. Instead of pumping during breaks, lactation breaks can be used to breastfeed.


Tips to consider for expressing at work

  • Find a secure place to your breast pump and other equipment at your workplace
  • Have a good quality cooler bag with ice bricks for transporting expressed milk home
  • If possible, prepare comfortable work clothes for returning to work while breastfeeding. 


It's common for expressing at work to feel unfamiliar at first and can take some time getting used to. If the space you use isn’t lockable, you might feel concerned about privacy. If your breaks are short, you might worry that there isn't enough time.  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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