Focus on Feeding – Breastfeeding & Returning to Work or Study

Returning to work doesn’t mean that you have to stop breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding exclusively (giving your baby no other food or drink) is recommended for around the first six months. After that time, breastfeeding is recommended alongside solid food (see the section on weaning). Therefore, it’s likely that you’ll be breastfeeding when you return to work or college.

The following information may help you:

  • Consider your baby’s age when planning to breastfeed and returning to work/study, your baby may be eating solid food during the day.
  • Contact the Infant Feeding Peer Support Workers based at your local Children’s Centre or ask for advice from other mums on our Breastfeeding in Sheffield Facebook page.
  • You can arrange for childcare close to work or college so that you can breastfeed during breaks, or before and after work. The evening feed can be a wonderful way for you to relax with your baby after work or college.
  • You can express breast milk (taking milk from the breast by hand or using a pump) so that someone else can feed your baby while you’re at work. See our section on Expressing breast milk and the Unicef Baby Friendly ‘Guide for Parents who Formula Feed’
  • Ask your employer or college for flexible working hours that are arranged around your breastfeeding needs.
  • Think about it early. Before you go back to work, write to your employer/tutor to let them know that you are breastfeeding. You may have an HR department that can help. It can make preparations, such as finding you a private room where you can breastfeed or express your milk.
  • Have a trial run with childcare before returning to work, discuss things with your childminder such as providing her with labelled and dated expressed breast milk. See our section on Expressing breast milk
  • Before returning to work, you should give your employer written notification that you are breastfeeding. Your employer must then conduct a specific risk assessment of your workplace. They must take steps to protect your health and safety on your return to work.
  • There is lots of useful information in this leaflet about Breastfeeding after returning to work or study leaflet from the Department of Health.

What are your rights?

Although employers are not required by law to accommodate breastfeeding mothers, it is good practice in accordance with the Health and Safety Executive, for employers to do the following:

  • Offer facilities to rest and time to express
  • Discuss flexible working hours
  • Discuss availability of a private space
  • Discuss the possibility of feeding baby during breaks
  • Discuss availability of onsite childcare

Useful contacts

  • Maternity Action helpline: 0808 802 0029
  • Health and Safety Executive: