There are big positives for you and your baby
The health impacts of stopping breastfeeding early are what drive many women to continue providing breastmilk for their babies when they return to work.
Babies who aren’t breastfed have an increased risk of gastrointestinal, respiratory and ear infections.
They are more likely to need to go to hospital for these infections.
Breastmilk contains many anti-infective factors that help protect against infections and build your baby’s immune system.
Continuing to breastfeed may protect your baby against illness if they need to be in childcare with other children while you are away. This means fewer visits to the doctor and less time off work for you.
Breastfeeding is not only very important for your baby’s health, but also helps you to bond. It allows you to re-connect with your baby after time away from each other. Breastfeeds are a special time that you alone share with your baby. You may find that you enjoy these times of closeness even more when the demands of work can be put aside for part of the day.
If you wean your baby when they are less than 12 months old, you will need to replace breastfeeds with formula feeds. This is an added expense on top of childcare costs for most families – enough for many mums and their partners to make the decision to keep breastfeeding.
In the words of one working mother
I decided to attempt breastfeeding despite needing to return to work, with the idea that I would provide the best possible nutrition for my children. I continued to breastfeed and express whilst working despite occasional obstacles over the years, with the help that ABA provided and because of the health advantages it provided the children. I was motivated in doing this by feelings of intimacy and bonding that nursing my children created despite my separation from them. It was a nurturing and comfort only I could give.
Victora, C. G., Bahl, R., Barros, A. J., França, G. V., Horton, S., Krasevec, J., ... & The Lancet Breastfeeding Series Group. (2016). Breastfeeding in the 21st century: Epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. The Lancet, 387(10017), 475–490.
Payne, S., & Quigley, M. A. (2017). Breastfeeding and infant hospitalisation: Analysis of the UK 2010 Infant Feeding Survey. Maternal and Child Nutrition, 13(1), e12263.
Hanson, L. Å. (2004). Immunobiology of human milk: How breastfeeding protects babies. Amarillo, TX: Pharmasoft Publishing.
More info for you
Evidence-led info and practical tips from our Breastfeeding Information Series