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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS

Home > Patients and visitors > Your health > Breastfeeding > Returning to work or study

Returning to work or study

Breastfeeding exclusively (giving your baby no other food or drink) is recommended for around the first six months. After that time, breastfeeding is recommended alongside solid food. Therefore, you may be breastfeeding when you return to work or college.

The following information may help you. There are several options. You can:

  •  Arrange for childcare close to work or college so that you can breastfeed during breaks, or before and after work. The evening feed can be a great way to relax with your baby after work or college.
  •  Express breast milk so that someone else can feed your baby while you’re at work.
  •  Ask your employer or college for flexible working hours that are arranged around your breastfeeding needs.
  •  Combine breastfeeding and bottle feeding to fit around your hours.

Think about it early. Before you go back to work, write to your employer/tutor to let them know – you may have an HR department that can help.


  • Label and date expressed breast milk before putting it in the fridge or freezer so that your childminder knows which one to use first.
  • Have a trial run with childcare before returning to work.
  • If you’re using milk within five days of expressing it, it’s better to store it in the fridge rather than freezer.

You can also download or order ‘A guide for new and expectant mothers who work’ from the Health and Safety Executive website. This website also has a good section about your rights as a breastfeeding employee.