Organising breastfeeding and work
- label and date expressed breast milk before putting it in the fridge or freezer so your childminder knows which one to use first
- have a trial run with childcare before returning to work
- if you're using milk within 5 days of expressing it, it's better to store it in the fridge than in the freezer – this means milk expressed at work on Fridays can be taken home and stored in your fridge to be used on Mondays
Read more about storing breast milk.
Information for employers about breastfeeding mothers
Employers have certain legal obligations to breastfeeding mothers. Supporting breastfeeding has business benefits too. These include:
- reduced absence due to child sickness (breastfed babies are generally healthier)
- increased staff morale and loyalty, and a subsequently higher rate of return to work
- lower recruitment and training costs
- an extra incentive to offer potential employees
How can employers help breastfeeding mothers?
Employers can have a policy to support breastfeeding. This includes:
- a break allowance for mothers to express milk
- provision of a clean, warm, private room (not the toilet) for expressing
- a secure, clean fridge to store expressed milk
- flexible working hours for breastfeeding mothers
Let your employees know about your policy before they start their maternity leave.
What does the law say about breastfeeding mothers at work?
It's up to mothers to decide how long they want to breastfeed. Returning to work doesn't mean a mother has to stop. Before returning to work, she should give her employer written notification that she's breastfeeding. Her employer must then conduct a specific risk assessment.
Workplace regulations require employers to provide suitable facilities where pregnant and breastfeeding mothers can rest.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that it's good practice for employers to provide a private, healthy and safe environment for breastfeeding mothers to express and store milk. The toilets are not a suitable place to express breast milk.
Talk to other breastfeeding mums
If you know any breastfeeding mothers who have already gone back to work, ask them for advice.
You could also visit healthtalk.org to see mothers talking about breastfeeding and working.
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