Many mothers continue to breastfeed when they go back to work after maternity leave. Returning to work may take some readjustment.
How to prepare
If you're planning to continue breastfeeding when you go back to work, you should start giving your baby an occasional feed of expressed breast milk from about 6 weeks old. This will allow you to become comfortable with expressing your breast milk.
Parents often use a bottle to give expressed breast milk to their baby. Your partner or another family member should help with these feeds if possible. This will help your baby get used to taking breast milk from someone other than yourself.
Paced bottle feedingmay help a breastfed baby to take a bottle.
If you plan to take maternity leave beyond 6 months, this may not be necessary. Try and get your baby used to taking milk from a bottle or a cup before you return to work. An older baby may take expressed milk from a cup or beaker. This is recommended from around 6 months
Your baby will still get the health benefits from your expressed breast milk.
When back at work
If you decide to express breast milk during the day, make a plan for how you are going to pump and store the milk while at work. Think about how your childminder will feed your baby while you are at work.
If you choose not to breastfeed while you're at work, your milk supply may reduce as it adapts to the change in demand.
In Ireland, by law, breastfeeding employees are entitled to 60 minutes time off or a reduction in work hours in an eight hour working day without loss of pay for up to 26 weeks after birth.
Mothers returning to work after this time period do not have a legal entitlement to breastfeeding breaks. However, talk to your employer about breastfeeding as some workplaces have policies that will support you as you continue to breastfeed.