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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Breastfeeding and Returning to Work or School

Let's make it work! No matter the length of your maternity leave, there are ways to make returning to school or work and breastfeeding successful. You and your baby will be happier and healthier, and your employer will also benefit from less absenteeism (babies are healthier) and improved employee morale. Did you know that employers are required to accommodate women who are breastfeeding, unless meeting their needs is extremely costly or creates serious health and safety hazards?


Why Continue to Breastfeed

Breastfeeding is important for baby because it supports brain development, protects against illness, helps reduce allergies, reduces the risk of obesity and heart disease, and reduces the risk of some childhood cancers.

Planning Ahead

  • Get breastfeeding off to a good start
  • Understand your rights to continue breastfeeding and talk to your employer about your plans
  • Call a public health nurse about a month before you return to work or school to discuss your options and tips for breastfeeding and returning to work or school
  • Practice expressing or pumping your breastmilk, and begin to store your expressed breastmilk
  • The number of times you will need to express or pump breastmilk while you are away from home will depend on the length of time you are away, the age of your baby and your baby's feeding patterns
  • Choose a caregiver for your child who supports breastfeeding
  • Talk to other women who have combined work or school and breastfeeding
Mother holding baby

Breastfeeding is also important for mothers, as it reduces the risk of some cancers and osteoporosis. Continuing to breastfeed provides ongoing support for a healthy mom and child.

Your baby needs only breastmilk for the first six months, and it is recommended that you continue to breastfeed for up to two years and beyond. Many women combine breastfeeding with returning to work or school by expressing or pumping their breastmilk if they have to be away from their child. Your breasts will continue to produce enough breastmilk as long as you breastfeed and express or pump often. Any amount of breastmilk is good for your baby.

Practical Help

For practical tips about how to make the adjustment of returning to work or school and continuing to breastfeed, speak to a Public Health Nurse:

  • Call the Health Unit at 519-663-5317, Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Date of creation: September 25, 2014
Last modified on: August 4, 2023


1Best Start Resource Centre. (2010). Returning to Work After Baby. Retrieved from
2Middlesex-London Health Unit. (2020). Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace. Retrieved from
3Ontario Human Rights Commission. (2014). Policy on preventing discrimination because of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Retrieved from