For Breastfeeding Mothers Going Back to Work

Plan Ahead

Prior to Maternity Leave, talk to your employer about:

  • Having a private and convenient place to pump breast milk.
  • How much maternity leave you are allowed. Maximizing the time available to you will help get breastfeeding off to a good start.
  • Having a reduced schedule for the first few weeks after returning from maternity leave.

Consider using a child care provider close to work so you may be able to visit and breastfeed your baby, depending on your work schedule. The New York State Child and Adult Care Food Program has designated child care centers that are breastfeeding friendly.

Know What to Expect

Find out how you can continue breastfeeding after you return to work.

Pride: Pumping and Storing Breast Milk

Purchase a good quality breast pump that works. An electric breast pump may be your best choice for pumping milk during the workday. Be sure to take the time to understand how to use it properly so this choice will work for you.

While You're On Maternity Leave

Breastfeed only - this will establish your milk supply. Do not use formula.

Begin pumping and storing your breast milk in the freezer.

Make a trial run before returning to work. Try spending some time away from your baby.

Introduce a bottle of your stored breast milk before returning to work. You may find your baby will take a bottle better from someone other than you.

Returning to Work

Pump milk for 10-15 minutes approximately 2-3 times during a typical 8 hour work day.

Keep your milk supply safe.

Quiet time with your baby at the breast is a wonderful, relaxing way to begin and end your work day.

The Making It Work Toolkit is an online resource for breastfeeding mothers returning to work or school. The toolkit is designed to provide assistance to breastfeeding mothers as well as tools and information for businesses and families. The online toolkit can be printed, viewed on the website, shared with others, and downloaded onto your mobile device for easy access.

Know Your Rights

New York State has laws that protect mother's rights to breastfeed

Under NYS Labor Law Section 206-C Breastfeeding in the Workplace Accommodation Law (2007), your employer cannot discriminate against you for choosing to breastfeed your baby or for pumping milk at work.

This law guarantees breastfeeding mothers the right to pump milk at work for three years after giving birth. They have the right to use paid break or meal times, or reasonable unpaid break times, to pump milk. Employers must attempt to accommodate an employees' request for a private place to pump milk. They cannot discriminate against employees who choose to pump milk at work or retaliate against women who assert their rights to do so.

The New York State Bill of Rights has more information on your rights as a breastfeeding mother.

For more information on breastfeeding and the workplace: