Many women return to paid work or study after the birth of their baby and wish to continue to breastfeed. Combining work and breastfeeding is possible with planning, and support from workplace and family/whānau. Planning ahead before the return to work or study makes it much easier to continue breastfeeding. Having a conversation with your employer or study institution during pregnancy and then having another meeting before the date of return to work is also helpful. Think about what is needed to help you combine breastfeeding and working, and talking with family/whānau about the support needed is a key to making life easier.
If it’s possible to delay the return to work, to work from home, have flexible hours or work part-time, breastfeeding women will find these are good options. Unfortunately these options are not possible for many women. Some workplaces support women to have their babies brought to them for breastfeeding and some women also leave their babies in early childhood education centres close to their workplaces so they can pop out and breastfeed. Many women express breast milk at their workplaces, and store the milk safely in a fridge until they can take it home at the end of the work day.
There is legislation in Aotearoa New Zealand that protects breastfeeding in the workplace. The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2008 (http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2008/0058/latest/whole.html#DLM1229724) gave employees the rights to breaks and access to appropriate facilities to enable them to either breastfeed at work or express breast milk in the workplace.
There is guidance available for employers, which outlines their obligations and how their workplaces can support breastfeeding – make sure you understand what support you are legally entitled to in your workplace – https://www.employment.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/tools-and-resources/publications/17844c1da4/code-of-employment-practice-on-infant-feeding.pdf
For more information about practical steps to support your breastfeeding when returning to paid work or study –
Breastfeeding Friendly Workplaces – https://womens-health.org.nz/breastfeeding-friendly-workplaces/
Breastfeeding and Work: let’s make it work – http://canbreastfeed.co.nz/workplace/