BHealthy Blog

Returning to work and continuing to breastfeed? You can do it!

By Jessica Donahue, RN, IBCLC

After getting breastfeeding off to a good start, most new moms have questions about continuing nursing after returning to work.  The following Q and A will help get you started. 

How can I pump extra milk while on my maternity leave and store it for my return to work?

Pump after your baby’s feedings— once breastfeeding is well established.  In the first 3-6 weeks of breastfeeding, most moms make more milk than their newborn can consume. Take advantage of this time to pump after as many feedings as possible. Save the excess to store for your return to work.

How long is my breast milk good in the refrigerator or freezer?

Breast milk can be stored safely in the refrigerator for 6-7 days, and in the freezer for six months.  If you have a deep freezer, you can safely store breast milk for a year!  Be sure to store your breast milk in plastic or glass containers with an airtight seal. It is best to use containers or bags made for breast milk storage.

What are suggestions for communicating with my employer about my needs after returning to work?

The best thing to do is to communicate with your employer before your maternity leave that you will need to express breast milk during your break time once you return to work.  Most employers are aware of the current laws that cover break time for expressing breast milk.  But if not, you can refer them to Arkansas Act 621: 11-5-116.  Accommodations can be easily made in virtually any workplace to make milk expression possible on your breaks.

What breast pump should I choose?

There are many breast pumps on the market today that make pumping easy to fit into your workday. The best thing to do is check with your insurance company first to see which one is covered under your plan.  We suggest a double electric breast pump for working moms as it will save time. Look for a pump that is portable and easy to clean when you are at work or away.

Where can I get additional support to help me be successful?

Attend the Breastfeeding Education and Support Together group!  Some breastfeeding mothers will face a few challenges when returning to work.  The B.E.S.T. support group can help you with this worthwhile journey.  Join a team of Certified Lactation consultants each month via ZOOM for conversation, education, and affirmation with working moms statewide!  Register today!

Jessica Donahue is an RN IBCLC at Baptist Health Expressly For You in Little Rock, Arkansas. Baptist Health Expressly For You is an Outpatient Lactation Center and boutique where moms can make appointments for breastfeeding help, shop for the latest helpful breastfeeding products and get their breastfeeding questions answered 24/7 via the Arkansas Breastfeeding helpline 1-844-344-0408.