Breastfeeding and returning to work

You don’t have to stop breastfeeding just because you’re returning to work. Find out about breastfeeding and working.

Returning to work

Many mums go back to work and keep breastfeeding their babies. You can continue to breastfeed by:

  • expressing and storing breast milk so that someone else can feed your baby
  • having your baby looked after near your work, so that you can go and feed them
  • having your baby with you at work
  • having someone bring your baby to you at work for feeds.

Talk to your whānau and friends to see how they can help. Your midwife or nurse can give you advice.

Talk to your employer

As soon as you know you’ll be returning to work, talk to your employer about breastfeeding. (You could even do this when you’re planning maternity leave.) By law, your employer must give you unpaid breaks to breastfeed your baby or express milk at work, and must provide you with facilities to do this.

Explain to your employer that to breastfeed you’ll need a:

  • clean, quiet, warm and private room or space
  • low, comfortable chair.

Explain that to express breast milk you may also need a:

  • private room with a door that can be locked (if possible) – you can put a ‘busy’ sign on the door if the room can’t be locked
  • basin to wash your hands and equipment
  • fridge in which to store the milk, or a chilly bin with ice-packs
  • table
  • power point if you’re using an electric breast pump
  • clean place to store equipment (eg, breast pump).

The Breastfeeding Friendly Workplaces website has useful information about your right to breastfeed at work and advice on how to manage. See also the Employment New Zealand's Parental leave website for information on parental leave and returning to work.


Related website

Breastfeeding and working – HealthEd (Health Promotion Agency and Ministry of Health)
The advantages of breastfeeding and how to manage breastfeeding at work, including how to express breast milk, and several brief stories in which women describe how they managed breastfeeding after returning to work. Available in EnglishSamoan and Tongan.

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