Breastfeeding and returning to work: all the advice!

The return to work is coming, and those around you (personal or medical) may start to tell you that you will have to stop breastfeeding. However, returning to work and breastfeeding are not incompatible ! Did you know that it was entirely possible to continue breastfeeding after returning to work ? You just need to follow a few very simple rules: we tell you everything in this article!

Breastfeeding: why prolong it by returning to work?

As you know, at Cotton Milk , we encourage the informed choice of all mothers, breastfeeding or not. And for those who have chosen to breastfeed, we have plenty of articles and resources at their disposal ; we also offer them comfortable and stylish nursing clothes !

Currently, the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends 2 years of breastfeeding, including 6 months exclusively (but if you do less, that's already very good!). Breastfeeding is beneficial for the baby, but also for the mother and for the planet . Breast milk, full of antibodies for your baby, is also full of many other benefits, and it can be used in many different ways !

Maintaining your breastfeeding while working allows you to maintain all these benefits . Make sure you eat well while breastfeeding, by consulting our special file .

return to work breastfeed

How can I maintain my breastfeeding when I return to work?

Whether you work part-time or full-time, fixed hours or reduced hours, it is entirely possible to breastfeed by returning to work, by maintaining exclusive breastfeeding, or mixed breastfeeding, or by supplementing with a solid food…

Equipment needed for breastfeeding and working

  • A breast pump : manual if you plan to use it very occasionally, or double-pump electric if you plan to use it regularly (the Medela Symphony or the Spectra S1 are ideal),
  • Breast shields adapted to your breast pump and the size of your nipples,
  • Containers to store your milk,
  • Freezer bags to build up your stock, on which you must clearly mark the date,
  • An insulated bag to transport your milk home in the evening.

Good to know: the rental of an electric breast pump is reimbursed by social security on prescription from your gynecologist, midwife, doctor or pediatrician. Grandir Nature offers you a wide choice delivered directly to your home, with very good advisors who will be able to guide you, because unfortunately not all pharmacies are trained and have suitable equipment.

return to work while breastfeeding

Things to know to prepare well:

  • Breastfeeding responds to the law of supply and demand : as long as the breast is stimulated, milk production will be maintained.
  • No need to anticipate the return to work by skipping feedings and getting your baby used to the bottle, this risks reducing your milk supply.
  • Take the time to get used to your breast pump, and to get your breast used to it, to obtain optimal production (once a day before resuming, you will also start to build up your stock),
  • Ask the reception center what is planned for the storage of breast milk (childminders and nurseries are obliged to accept your milk, and do not have the right to refuse it),
  • Trust yourself!

How do I express my milk at work?

French law provides that every breastfeeding mother has the right to 1 hour per day to express her milk , in two installments (2 x 30 minutes), to breastfeed your baby or express your milk, until his or her first birthday. This hour is not paid (unless otherwise agreed in your collective agreement). The employer must provide you with a closed room.

Before handling your drawing equipment, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly. Take advantage of this moment of break to look at a photo of your baby , because visual stimulation promotes lactation. Express your milk as many times as the usual number of feedings over the same period (usually 1 to 3). Pumping is an “artificial” stimulation, so it is quite possible that you will have a smaller amount than a baby would have taken from the breast. Don't panic: the production in the print run is not representative of the production within . Your body knows how to produce exactly the volume of milk your baby needs when it's just the two of you! Amazing, right?

The drawing equipment can be kept cool between uses, and washed thoroughly once a day to prevent the development of bacteria.

And at home ?

At home, we keep feedings in an open bar: breastfeeding on demand ! It promotes skin-to-skin contact and lactation. There is no point in trying to get your baby used to feedings at fixed times to get used to the hours of childcare.

Storage of breast milk

Once your milk is expressed, it is imperative to store it in good conditions while respecting the cold chain so that it does not present any bacterial risk for your baby. Here is a quick summary of the shelf life of breast milk depending on the location of storage:

Ambient temperature



Fresh breast milk

1 hour


4 to 6 months

Frozen breast milk

1 hour


Never refreeze!

To defrost it, do not heat the milk in the microwave as this can greatly alter its properties. The best is to defrost your bags in a bain-marie, or in the fridge.

So ! You now know everything about breastfeeding and returning to work.
And you, how did you manage to reconcile breastfeeding and work?
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