Feeding your baby when you return to work

Still breastfeeding your child? You can continue to do so after you return to work. We explain the rules that allow you to feed your child or express in Australian workplaces. 

Victoria returned to work when her first son was seven months old and she wanted to continue breastfeeding. Fortunately, her son was in a child care center near her work which allowed her to continue feeding during the day.

“I felt lucky that I could return to work and continue feeding after lunch in line with his previous routine,” Victoria says. “I would leave a meeting when I received a call from his child care center and literally pop out for 20 minutes. My team was really understanding.”

This is a unique scenario and not a common example of being able to continue feeding whilst returning to work. However, there are options available for every parent who needs or wants to return to work and continue to feed their baby breastmilk.

Your entitlement at work

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, breastfeeding is a protected ground of discrimination in Australia. Making an employee feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding or not providing adequate facilities or breaks may constitute discrimination. It may also be a breach of work health and safety laws.

Managing feeds from afar

These days, a best practice employer will have facilities available to support employees who choose to continue breastfeeding. This includes a comfortable, private place to feed your child and somewhere to pump and store breastmilk. 

If your child is bottle-fed, then this too is manageable. It’s about whatever works for you and eliminating any pressure. There is no right or wrong here. 

Many parents have told us that a great solution when returning to work when you want to continue to feed your child breastmilk is to do a combination of breastfeeding and bottle-feeding breastmilk or formula. A common routine is to:

  • Breastfeed before and after work and at night.
  • Bottle feed breastmilk (or formula, or a combination of both) during the day when your baby is being cared for by others. It is also common to incorporate bottle feeds into the evening and night routine so that feeding can be shared among caregivers. 

How to prepare for a new routine 

If you want to return to work and continue feeding, the first step is to discuss your options with your employer. If you visit your workplace to introduce your baby to your workmates, this could be a good chance to chat with your manager or human resources department. You might even want to speak to your employer about it before you go on parental leave. 

The next step is to make sure you can access an area where you can either breastfeed or express at work.

Decide what is right for you and your baby. Talk to other parents in your workplace. Speak with your friends outside of work. Once you make your decision, be confident and don’t look back.

Written by the Circle In team.

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