Breastfeeding Mothers Returning to Work or School: What You Should Know

Before Returning to Work or School

  • Communicate with your supervisor/ academic advisor before returning to work or school to let him/herknow that you will be breastfeeding and may be expressing milk when you return.
  • When scheduling your return back to work or school, consider discussing your transition plan and flexibility needs with your supervisor/academic advisor, or applying for formal flexible work arrangements (if applicable). You might want to begin mid-week or start off part-time; it can be overwhelming for a new mom to go back to work/school again, so if it’s possible, try starting off slow.
  • Keep in mind that New York State Labor Law § 206-C (established in May 2008), requires employers to allow working women to use unpaid break time or paid meal time to nurse their babies or express milk for up to three years after the birth of their child.  It also requires employers to provide a reasonable space where an employee can express milk in privacy and prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee who exercises this right.
  • When arranging for child care, consider communicating with the provider about your infant’s feeding needs, scheduling and preferences. If you need any help finding a child care provider or have any other concerns about child care and schooling, contact the Office of Work/Life's School and Child Care Search Service.
  • Introduce bottles to your baby no later than his/her fourth week so that he/she can become comfortable with being fed by a bottle. Babies who don’t start using the bottle by the fourth week may reject a bottle at a later date.
  • Days or weeks, if possible, before returning to work/school, start expressing breast milk and establish your pattern of breast milk expression so it can make your transition to work/school easier.
  • Have a supply of breast milk prepared before you return to work/school.  Breast milk can be stored in a refrigerator for 4-8 hours, or you can freeze the milk for up to 3-4 months.
  • You might want to consider purchasing a nursing bra for easier access when pumping/feeding, as well as support and coverage from breast milk leakage.
  • Contact the Office of Work/Life for access to the lactation room ideally ten days before returning to work/school, and for more details on the pump and attachments needed.