Expressing breast milk at work

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La Leche League and Unicef strongly encourage employers to facilitate the continuation of breastfeeding when women return to work.

A few practical tips

Practise expressing before returning to work. Do a test run while still at home. If you’ve got it running smoothly you’ll feel a lot less pressured on your return to work.

The first week can be daunting. See if you can arrange a short first week – if you begin work on a Wednesday or Thursday the first week won’t be such a lengthy ordeal.

Ensure that you have all the paraphernalia, and get a good sturdy bag to carry it in.

You’ll need:

  • A breast pump
  • Sterile hard plastic or glass containers with sealable lids
  • Cool box and ice packs
  • Steriliser for the pump
  • Breast pads
  • An extra shirt in case of leaks or accidents
  • Some healthy snacks and bottled water so that you remain well hydrated and nourished throughout the day

While it is possible to pump manually, many women find pumping even with an electric pump challenging. Invest in a good-quality pump so that you can express quickly, easily and painlessly. There should be a quiet room available where you can sit and close the door.

Convince your boss

Among the many good reasons for your company to support you in this is that mothers who continue to breastfeed while working are absent less often as their babies are sick less often.

Another is that companies who make it easier for women to continue breastfeeding experience a lower turnover of skilled female employees following maternity leave.

Supporting your decision to breastfeed need not inconvenience your employer as 3 pump breaks per day amounts to less time than the breaks that smokers take.

Consult the La Leche League’s guidelines on storing, thawing and warming of breast milk.

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