Breastfeeding and Returning to Work or School

Your Rights When Returning to Work or School

In Ontario, the Human Rights Commission prohibits discrimination and protects the rights of pregnant and breastfeeding women. If you wish to breastfeed or express breastmilk for your child while at work or school, your employer or teacher should accommodate you.

You are legally allowed to have extra breaks to breastfeed your child or to pump while you are at work.

The Importance of Breastfeeding Once You Return to Work or School

  • You may miss less work or school because breastfed children may be sick less often.
  • Your baby may be healthier in their body, mind and development.
  • Your employee benefit plan may not have to pay for as many medications for a breastfed child.
  • Continued breastfeeding can help you and your baby cope with the transition of returning to work or school.
  • Breastfeeding before and after work/school is a nice way to connect with your baby after a busy day.
  • You may be less likely to get osteoporosis, breast or ovarian cancer.
  • For more information, visit www.ohrc.on.ca/en/issues/pregnancy.

There are many things you can do to help make your return to work easier for you and your baby:

  • Let your employer or teachers know that you want to continue to breastfeed when you return to work.
  • Prepare your baby by practicing the new routine several times before you return to work or school.
  • Allow time for your baby and your body adjust to the new routine.
  • If you plan to pump at work or school, practice before you return.  This milk can be stored for your baby to use when you actually are at work or school; talk to your baby’s caregiver about your plan to provide breast milk while you are at work or school.
  • Try introducing your baby to a sippy cup or regular cup; sometimes babies accept this more readily if it is fed to them by someone else other than you.

Other helpful tips when returning to work or school include:

  • Create a plan for how and when you might pump or feed your baby while you are at work or school. For example: can someone bring the baby to you to feed?  Can you pump and store your milk? When and where will you pump? Is there a fridge or will you store milk in a cooler bag?
  • Keep in mind that you may need to pump at least once or twice in an 8 hour day if you are returning to work or school after one year (more if you are returning sooner).
  • You may want to wear clothes that are easier for pumping or breastfeeding your baby while you are at work or school.
  • Consider taking an extra shirt in case your milk leaks.
  • Try and use a pump that makes pumping easier and more efficient.
  • Consider talking to other moms who have breastfed after returning to work or school.
  • Remember that your baby may want to breastfeed more frequently when you return home; your milk supply will adjust to this new routine.
  • Consider speaking to a Public Health Nurse for ways to make this transition easier.