Breastfeeding and Returning to Work

Portia L. Williams RN BSN IBCLC

Breastfeeding after you return to work can be a challenge, but it’s an accomplishment you can be proud of. These helpful tips from a Touro Lactation Consultant will help breastfeeding moms plan a successful return to work.

Why Work and Pump?

Planning ahead for your return to work can help ease the transition. Learn as much as you can before the baby’s birth, and talk with your employer about your options. Planning ahead can help you continue to enjoy breastfeeding your baby long after your maternity leave is over.

What can I do while on maternity leave to make breastfeeding more successful after I return to work?

  • Take as many weeks off as you can. At least six weeks of leave can help you recover from childbirth and settle into a good breastfeeding routine.
  • Practice expressing your milk by hand or with a breast pump. A breast pump may be the best method for efficiently removing milk during the workday. A hands-free breast pump may even allow you to work while pumping if you have a laptop or an office with a door that you can close. See our Pumping and breastmilk storage section for information on how much to pump and how to store your milk.
  • Help your baby adjust to taking breastmilk from a bottle (or cup for infants 3 to 4 months old). It may be helpful to have someone else give the bottle or cup to your baby at first. Wait at least a month before introducing a bottle to your infant.

working mom

What can I do when I return to work to help ease the transition?

  • Keep talking with your boss about your schedule and what is or isn’t working for you. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, most employers, with few exceptions, must offer their breastfeeding employees reasonable break times to pump for up to 1 year after her baby is born and a place, other than a bathroom, to comfortably, safely, and privately express breastmilk. Learn more about how to protect your right to breastfeed.
  • When you arrive to pick up your baby from child care, try to take time to breastfeed your baby right away. This will give you and your baby time to reconnect before going home.

How often should I pump at work?

At work, you will need to express milk during the times you would normally feed your baby. As a general rule: in the first few months of life, babies need to breastfeed eight to 12 times in 24 hours. As the baby gets older, the number of feeding times may go down.

Expressing milk can take about 10 to 15 minutes. Sometimes it may take longer. Many women use their regular breaks and lunch break to pump. Some women come to work early or stay late to make up the time needed to express milk.

Where should I store my breastmilk?

Breastmilk is food, so it is safe to keep it in an employee refrigerator or a cooler with ice packs. Talk to your boss about the best place to store your milk. If you work in a medical department, do not store milk in the same refrigerators where medical specimens are kept.

Be sure to label the milk container with your name and the date you expressed the milk. Place the container in a canvas or insulated bag that you can discreetly put in the back of the workplace refrigerator with the other employees’ lunch bags.

How much breastmilk should I send with my baby during the day?

You may need to pump two to three times each day to make enough milk for your baby while he or she is with a caregiver.

Research shows that breastfed babies between 1 and 6 months old take in an average of 2 to 4 ounces per feeding. As your baby gets older, your breastmilk changes to meet your baby’s needs. So, your baby will get the nutrition he needs from the same number of ounces at 9 months as he did at 3 months.

Some babies eat less during the day when they are away from their mothers and then nurse more often at night. This is called “reverse-cycling.” Or, babies may eat during the day and still nurse more often at night. This may be more for the closeness with you that your baby craves. If your baby reverse cycles, you may find that you do not need to pump as much milk for your baby during the day.

Support for breastfeeding moms

Touro Lactation StoreTouro offers a full-service retail store where families can purchase products specifically for breastfeeding needs. The store is conveniently located on the second floor of the hospital near the Family Birthing Center. The Center also offers bra fittings by appointments free of charge and sells breastfeeding products and pump pieces.  To learn more, visit:  or call 504-897-8130.

Your Guide to Breastfeeding: This free, easy-to-read publication has how-to information and support to help women breastfed successfully.  Click here for the free guide.

Under the Affordable Care Act, pregnant and postpartum women can access lactation support and counseling from trained providers as well as certain breastfeeding equipment, such as breast pumps and nursing supplies.

La Lache League and the Mary Amelia Douglas Women’s Center



Portia L. Williams RN BSN IBCLC is an International Board Certified Lactation Consult with 12 years of Maternal Child Experience, her personal experience as a NICU mom guides her love for supporting breastfeeding.  She is a proud graduate of UL Lafayette and has been employed at Touro since 2004.  Portia is a proud mom of two breastfed boys, which she tandem nursed.

To learn more, visit:  or call 504-897-8130.

Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom

Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN

We are aware of the health benefits breastfeeding provides to your baby, but what about mom?

Breastfeeding: a Boost for Losing Post-Pregnancy Pounds

Research shows that moms who breastfeed, lose the weight picked up during pregnancy much faster than moms who don’t breastfeed. Breastfeeding can burn 600 plus calories daily, depending on your baby’s (or babies’) appetite and age.  Those who are familiar with exercise know how hard one has to work in the gym to burn this amount of calories. Breastfeeding is certainly not a replacement for exercise, but it does give your body a little boost with losing those post- pregnancy pounds.

Calories burned during breastfeeding is equivalent to:

Swim     80 minutes

Sprint    45 minutes

Tennis   75 minutes

Yoga      3 hours

Mom & Baby

Tips to Help You Feel Your Best While Breastfeeding

In addition, most moms who are breastfeeding are still cautious about what foods they’re consuming. Healthy eating should continue postpartum and in the years to come. The quality of calories consumed is equally as important as quantity- especially when breastfeeding. Rather than focusing on a specific calorie number, try to focus on eating quality foods.

Here are a few tips to help you feel your best while breastfeeding:

  • Increase real, non-processed foods (fruits, vegetables, healthy fats like avocados and nuts).
  • Limit your intake of added sugars (both real and artificial sweeteners).
  • Try to remind yourself to eat frequently. This is often difficult for new moms but essential in controlling your hormone and energy levels.
  • Keep water handy to drink while you are nursing. It’s a good reminder to stay hydrated.

This is not the time to restrict calories or experiment with fasting! Listen to your body and eat when you feel the need.  It is important to understand the difference in actually being hungry and having a craving for a particular food. You may notice that when your baby is going through a growth spurt, you are hungrier on those days. It is important to feed your body properly at this time.

Your baby weight may melt right off, like magic, if you are the rare lucky one; however, most women do not lose all their baby weight until they stop nursing. When your baby goes through a growth spurt, it can signal your body to keep some extra fat stored for your baby’s nourishment. Hormones may also influence weight loss. As soon as you and your baby start to wean, and your hormones return to normal, the last few pounds should start to shift.

Your body is remarkable and can support your baby with milk even while you are ill, recovering from birth, and/or getting little sleep! Treat your body (and baby) well by providing as many nutrients as you can and eating a healthy balanced diet. Be sure to set realistic goals for the new you, and be good to yourself. This will be a gift you give yourself long after breastfeeding ends.

Support for breastfeeding moms: Touro Lactation Store

Touro offers a full-service retail store where families can purchase products specifically for breastfeeding needs. The store is conveniently located on the second floor of the hospital near the Family Birthing Center. The Center also offers bra fittings by appointments free of charge and sells breastfeeding products and pump pieces.

To learn more, visit: or call 504-897-8130.



Fortenberry, JulieJulie Fortenberry, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian at Touro Infirmary. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Southern Mississippi. Julie believes that lifestyle changes and wholesome nutrition are obtainable, and brings real-life understanding to wellness and nutritional counseling.