Returning to Work or School

While nursing an infant this age, it is important for the mother to empty her breasts at regular intervals (ideally every two to three hours) in order to maintain her milk supply and prevent medical complications such as plugged ducts and mastitis (breast infection).

My recommendation is that Jane be allowed several fifteen minute breaks each day, in addition to her regular lunch break, in order to express her milk with an electric breast pump.

I hope that you will be willing to work with her regarding this matter, since regular milk expression during prolonged periods of mother-baby separation is in the best interest of both mother and child.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions that you might have.


Anne Smith, IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant)

I know of several situations where employers didn't want mothers to store their expressed milk in the refrigerator at work because they were concerned about "contamination", since they argued that human milk is a body fluid and should be covered by the same precautions used with blood and saliva. Be assured that the policy of OSHA, the CDC, and the American Public Health Association is that human milk is not considered in the same category with other bodily fluids, and no special precautions are necessary, other than the standard hand washing and refrigeration protocols. If your employer or care giver has concerns about this topic, you can request a publication called "Caring for Our Children", which supports the feeding of human milk to infants in out-of-home child care settings. It is published jointly by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and the American Public Health Association. Call 1-800-433-9016 to request a copy.

Leaking at work is much more of a concern than leaking at home. Some mothers experience minimal leaking, while others wake up with the sheets soaked every morning. While leaking does tend to lessen after the early weeks of nursing, many mothers still experience a significant amount of leakage when they are ready to return to work. Soaking through your shirt may be inconvenient while you are at the grocery store or visiting a friend, but when you are making an important presentation in front of your boss and a roomful of clients, it can be disastrous. That’s why I offer the BLIS (Breastmilk Leakage Inhibitor System) This product can be a life -saver for moms who leak a lot and have to be separated from their baby for extended periods of time. It really works. See product information for more details.

Here are some other tips for dealing with leaking:

• If you feel your milk letting down, cross your arms across your chest and apply pressure for about ten seconds or so. No one but another nursing mother will know what you are really doing.
• Choose bright or dark colored prints. Avoid white and pastel colors. They show leaks more. Cotton and synthetic fabrics show leaks less than silks, linens, and clingy fabric
• Wear a loose jacket or blazer to throw over your blouse.
• Keep the clothes loose and comfortable. You may find that your pre-pregnant clothes don't fit well anymore, so invest in a few multi-purpose outfits that fit loosely. Choose outfits that button in the front or two- piece outfits that you can pull up easily.
• Keep a spare blouse at work (one in a neutral color that can be worn with most outfits).
• This may seem obvious, but choose clothes that are washable and don't require ironing. Your life is complicated enough right now without adding ironing to your list of things to do.

Continuing to breastfeed after returning to work is a real labor of love, but it is well worth the effort. No, it isn't easy, and requires a great deal of commitment and work on your part. Only you can provide the best possible nourishment for your baby, and there is no doubt about the physiological benefits (immunities, fewer illnesses, less time missed from work/school), the financial benefits (cost savings associated with fewer doctor visits and not buying formula, which can cost anywhere between $100 - $200 per month, depending on the type), and the psychological benefits (the closeness, bonding, and skin-to-skin nurturing) that only you can provide.