What are my breastfeeding options?

Going back to work after having a baby can take a lot of planning. Both working and caring for a baby are demanding, and many mothers rethink their priorities. Breastfeeding is one part of this picture.

As you think about work and breastfeeding, know that the more mother's milk your baby gets, the better. But breastfeeding does not have to be all or nothing. Women have come up with many ways to fit breastfeeding into their lives. These choices may give you new ideas on how to make breastfeeding work for you and your family.

1. Fully breastfeed while working. Some women do this by:

  • Bringing their baby with them to work.
  • Having their baby brought to them at work for feedings.
  • Choosing a caregiver nearby and going to their baby for feedings.
  • Reverse cycle nursing — their baby feeds most while they're home and sleeps most while they're at work.

2. Provide expressed mother's milk for all missed feedings. This may mean:

  • Pumping at work during breaks.
  • Storing milk at other times by pumping before baby wakes up in the morning, right after work, and after feedings at home.

3. Provide some expressed mother's milk and some formula for missed feedings.

4. Provide formula for all missed feedings and breastfeed when together.

 If you choose one of the last options, think about whether you will be going for a longer time at work without pumping or breastfeeding than your baby's longest stretch between feedings at home. If so, it may make sense to do a "partial weaning." This allows you to stay comfortable at work for longer stretches yet still breastfeed at home.

This is general information and does not replace the advice of your physician or healthcare provider. If you have a problem you cannot solve quickly, seek help right away.

Every baby is different, and your baby may not be average.
If in doubt, contact your physician or other healthcare provider.

Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA, Lactation Consultant, Ameda Breastfeeding Products
Coauthor of Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers