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Breastfeeding and the Working Mom

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

Breast milk is the best food for your baby because it gives him or her all the nutrients he or she needs. Healthcare providers recommend that you feed your baby only breast milk for the first 6 months. Breast milk helps protect your baby from many health problems. These include ear infections, digestive problems, colds, and breathing problems. Breastfeeding also provides many benefits for you. Breastfeeding reduces your risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Because breastfed babies tend to be healthier, you may have fewer work absences caused by child illness.

What can I do to balance breastfeeding and working?

With a little planning, you can balance breastfeeding and working. The following tips may help make breastfeeding easier while you are working:

  • Talk to your boss about your breastfeeding needs early. Talk to your boss before you go on maternity leave or return to work. You may need a private room to express or pump milk during the workday. The room should have a door that locks, an electrical outlet, a chair, and table or desk. There should also be a sink nearby that you can use to clean your pumping equipment and hands. A bathroom is not the best place to pump, because germs could get into the breast milk. You will also need to take regular breaks to express milk during the workday. You may need 10 to 15 minute breaks each time.
  • Take as much maternity leave as you can. Maternity leave may help you set up a regular breastfeeding schedule and milk supply.
  • Express and store your breast milk. When you express milk during the day, it helps your breasts continue to make milk. It also allows your childcare provider to feed stored breast milk to your baby while you are at work. You may need to express as often as your baby would breastfeed. Store expressed breast milk in a refrigerator or cooler with ice packs. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on expressing, collecting, and storing breast milk.
  • Ask if you can create a different work schedule. Work from home or work part time if you can. Try to find a childcare center near your work if you work full time. Look for one that is close enough so you can go there to breastfeed your baby during the day.
  • Try a different nursing cycle. You may want to try breastfeeding your baby less during your work hours and more when you are home. Your body will produce less milk during the workday if you do not pump and you breastfeed less. For example, if you work during the day, breastfeed your baby in the morning before work. Breastfeed him or her in the evening when you get home from work and during the night. Your baby may sleep more and eat less while you are at work. Stored breast milk may be used during the other feedings.

Where can I find support and more information?

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
    345 Park Boulevard
    Itasca , IL 60143
    Phone: 1- 800 - 433-9016
    Web Address:
  • La Leche League International
    957 North Plum Grove Road
    Schaumburg , IL 60173
    Phone: 1- 847 - 519-7730
    Phone: 1- 800 - 525-3243
    Web Address:

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • One or both of your breasts is very swollen or painful and keeps you from breastfeeding.
  • You feel a tender lump in your breast.
  • One or both of your breasts is red, swollen or hard, painful, and feels warm or hot.
  • You have questions about breastfeeding and going back to work.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.