How to Continue Breastfeeding as You Return to Work

If you can, keep breastfeeding your pēpi until they are 12 months or older. While it may have its challenges at times, there are ways to continue breastfeeding once you go back to work or study. Then, when you aren’t at work, you can continue to breastfeed your baby on demand.

Here are some options that may be possible for you when returning to your career:

  • Work from home and have your baby with you
  • Have your baby with you at your workplace for some or all of the time
  • Have your baby’s caregiver bring them into work for breastfeeds
  • Put your baby into childcare near your workplace so you can go there to feed your baby
  • Express while you are at work and store the milk in the freezer so whoever is caring for your baby can feed them your expressed milk

By law, you have the right to breastfeed at work. Your employer must give you unpaid breaks to breastfeed your baby or express milk at work, and they must provide you with facilities to do this. Explain to your employer that to breastfeed, all you will need is:

  • A clean, warm, private place (ideally a room that can be locked, otherwise you can put a ‘busy’ sign on the door).
  • A low, comfortable chair.

If you are expressing, you will also need:

  • A power point, if you’re using an electric breast pump.
  • A clean place to store your equipment.
  • A basin with running water to wash your hands and equipment.
  • A fridge or chilly bin with ice packs to store your expressed milk.

For comprehensive advice on how to advocate for your breastfeeding rights in the workplace and what to do if you’re having a problem, visit the Women’s Health Action website at womens-health.org.nz/breastfeeding-friendly-workplaces.

Some mothers choose to have another breastfeeding mother feed their baby while they are at work – this is called wet nursing. If you’re thinking about doing this, get advice from your GP, Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse or lactation consultant beforehand to check that the other breastfeeding mother is healthy.