breastfeeding at work

Breastfeeding at work

You know you’ve got to go back to work and you know you want to keep breastfeeding your baby, but how are you going to make breastfeeding at work, well, work?

We all know that the longer you breastfeed, the greater the health protection is for your baby and you. You have already given your baby the most wonderful gift by choosing to breastfeed. Now you may be wondering what to do when you return to work. Below are some answers to common concerns.

How can I continue to breastfeed?

It helps to plan ahead before you return to work. You will be making arrangements for childcare. Think about the childcare option that suits you, your working hours and your plans to continue to breastfeed. If you are planning to continue breastfeeding when you go back to work you should start giving your baby an occasional feed of expressed breast milk from about six weeks old. This will allow you to get the hang of expressing and help your baby to get used to taking breast milk from someone other than yourself.

Supply and demand

Depending on the age of your baby when you return to work, you and your baby’s needs will vary. For example, a seven-month-old baby may still be feeding at regular intervals during the day. A baby who is near to his first birthday may just be feeding in the morning and evening. Feeding patterns will vary from one baby to the next, but older babies will tend to feed less often. Practise expressing your milk by hand and pump until you decide which one suits you best and you are confident about doing it. You may choose not to express at work and just breastfeed while you are at home. Your milk supply may go down as it adapts to the change in demand. You can ask the childminder to give your baby formula or expressed breast milk while you are at work.

Breastfeeding and employment

Under Section 9 of the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004 certain women in employment who are breastfeeding are entitled to take time off work each day in order to breastfeed. The provision applies to all women in employment who have given birth within the previous six months. Employers are not obliged to provide facilities in the workplace to facilitate breastfeeding if the provision of such facilities would give rise to considerable costs. At the choice of her employer, the woman may therefore opt to:

  • Breastfeed in the workplace or express breast milk, where facilities are provided in the workplace by the employer.
  • Have their working hours reduced (without loss of pay) to facilitate breastfeeding where facilities are not made available.

Go to www. for more information on the above.


If you find breastfeeding difficult, there are many people who can help and reassure you:

1. At the hospital or at home.

Your midwife will have had much experience with breastfeeding mothers and will be able to help you get started. Some are “lactation consultants” and have specific training in breastfeeding support. In addition, most hospitals run a weekly drop-in breastfeeding clinic.

2. At the local health centre.

Breastfeeding support groups are run by the public health nurse. Meetings take place weekly, where you and other mothers can meet the nurse to discuss any problems you might have and to seek her advice.

3. Breastfeeding counsellors.

Cuidiu – The Irish Childbirth Trust has a list of trained breastfeeding counsellors who will answer any queries you might have. They are available all over the country. Contact Cuidiu for the name of your nearest counsellor. In addition, the La Leche League is a voluntary group, which provides information and support to women who want to breastfeed their babies. Their services include telephone counselling and monthly group meetings.

Methods of expressing your milk

There are three main methods of expressing breastmilk.

  • By hand
  • By using a hand pump
  • By using an electric pump

Whichever method you choose, the milk may take a minute or two to flow after you start expressing. If expressing from one breast at a time, Express from one breast until the flow slows or stops. Change to the second breast and when the milk stops flowing from that breast return to the first breast and start again. Repeat this several times until you can no longer get any milk from either breast.

breastfeeding at work

To express by pump

A variety of different pumps are available to buy or rent and suit different situations or women. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and more information.

Hand pumps

There are a number of different designs, all of which work in slightly different ways. Some are operated by hand and some by battery. They all have a funnel that fits over the nipple and areola. Different pumps suit different women – it is therefore best, if at all possible, to try out a pump before buying.

Electric pumps

These are fast and easy because they work automatically. They are particularly good if you need to express for a long period. It is possible to express both breasts at the same time using some electric pumps that have a dual pumping set. This is quicker than other methods and may help you to produce more milk.

Top tips

  • Label and date expressed breast milk before putting it in the fridge or freezer so that your childminder knows which one to use first.
  • Have a trial run with childcare before returning to work.
  • If you’re using milk within five days of expressing it, it’s better to store it in the fridge than in the freezer. This means milk expressed at work on Fridays can be taken home and stored in your fridge to be used on Mondays.

For more information, the HSE ‘Breastfeeding and Work – guide for parents and employers’ can be downloaded at

More like this:

7 things you need to know about expressing breastmilk
Breastfeeding tips: leaky boobs and oversupply
Breastfeeding in Ireland


Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….



Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.