Heading Back to School or Work

Heading Back to School or Work

Planning Tips

Balancing motherhood and work or school is challenging, but you can do it! All you need is a desire and a plan.

Getting Ready

A couple of weeks before returning to work or school, express or pump a few times a week. Don’t give your baby bottles until he is at least 3-4 weeks old he doesn’t get confused or develop a preference for the bottle. Have someone else offer small amounts of breast milk in a bottle with a slow flow nipple every few days. Ask WIC about borrowing a pump. Ask your WIC Peer Counselor for ideas to get ready.

Choosing Childcare

  • Find a caregiver close to your work or school.
  • Let your caregiver know how important breastfeeding is to you and your baby.
  • Go to your baby to feed or have  your baby brought to you when possible.
  • When you pick up your baby, leave breast milk for the next day.
  • Share information on storing, thawing, and warming breast milk with the caregiver.
  • Breastfeed before you leave your baby and as soon as possible after you pick him up. Ask your caregiver to feed your baby just a small amount if he is hungry and you’re arriving soon.

Providing Breast Milk for Your Baby

  • During your pregnancy, talk to WIC staff or your WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. They can help you plan to talk to your supervisor about pumping in private and storing breast milk at work.
  • Take off as much time as you can. It is best to return to work after breastfeeding is well established when your baby is 4-6 weeks of age.
  • Return to work or school in the middle of the week and on a part-time basis at first to make the transition easier.
  • Breastfed babies who are away from their mothers usually breastfeeding more frequently when they’re together.
  • The law states that “employers shall provide reasonable, unpaid breast time and a private, non-bathroom place for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth.” This protects your right to breastfeed. For more information, check out the employment section at www.usabreastfeeding.org for more information.

The Utah Breastfeeding Coalition can provide support and guidance on breastfeeding in the workplace. To learn more about worksite lactation support, go to http://utahbreastfeeding.org/workinfo.php.

Expressing Milk

How to Express Breast Milk

  • Be sure your hands, the pump, and bottles are clean. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Try to relax and think of your baby. Look at a picture of your baby, smell your baby’s clothing, or listen to a recording of your baby.
  • Plan to pump as often as your baby would breastfeed, or about every 2-3 hours.
  • Use flanges that fit. Contact the WIC Lactation Educator if you need a different size.
  • Use the highest amount of suction that is still comfortable.
  • Pump both breasts until the milk flow stops.
  • Help empty your breast using massage and compression. Focus on areas that feel full or firm.
  • If soreness or discomfort develops, stop and contact a WIC lactation Educator.

How to Pace Bottle Feed with Expressed Breast Milk

Paced feeding is used to mimic the breastfeeding mom while nursing.

  • Offer the bottle when your baby is hungry. Look for your baby’s feeding cues (rooting, sticking out tongue, and bringing hands to mouth).
  • Your baby should be sitting up enough that the bottle is horizontal with the floor. Tip the bottle up just enough to fill the slow flow nipple with milk.
  • Place the bottle nipple against his top lip. Wait for him to open wide and take the nipple into his mouth.
  • To mimic breastfeeding, allow frequent pauses while the baby drinks from the bottle. This keeps the baby from guzzling the bottle and can lessen nipple confusion or preference.
  • Don’t remove the bottle from the baby’s mouth when pausing. Just tilt the nipple up and let it rest on the baby’s lip.
  • If cradling the baby, switch from one side to the other halfway through as you would with breastfeeding.
  • If your baby starts to show signs of stress (extended fingers or toes, milk running out of the mouth, trying to turn their head or push bottle away) stop the feeding.
  • Never force baby to finish the bottle when showing signs of fullness (turning head away or pushing nipple out of the mouth).

Storing Breast Milk

  • Store your breast milk in a clean disposable nursing bag, glass bottle, or BPA-free plastic. Bottles with the recycle symbol number 7 may contain BPA. Double bag breast milk if you freeze it.
  • Store in amounts equal to about one feeding (2-4 oz).
  • Label each container with the date. Include the name if storing for child care, work, or school.
  • Only combine milks that are the same temperature (warm with warm or cold with cold). Do not add liquid milk to frozen milk.
  • Thaw frozen milk in the refrigerator overnight or under warm running water. Never use a microwave.
  • Gently swirl the milk. It is normal for human milk to separate.
  • After a feeding, discard any leftover milk.
  • If you have a very small baby or a special needs baby, ask your hospital for special instructions for storing and pumping.

These Guidelines are for Healthy Full Term Babies*

Storage Temperature

Freshly Pumped/Expressed Human Milk

Thawed Human Milk

Counter top or table

Up to 77° F (25° C)

Up to 4 hours

1-2 hours


At or below 40° F (4° C)

Up to 4 days

Up to 1 day (24 hours)

Freezer with separate door

0° F (-18° C)

Up to 6 months

Never re-freeze thawed human milk

Deep Freezer At or below -4°  F (-20° C) Up to 12 months

Never re-freeze thawed human milk

*Guidelines are for home use only and not for hospital use.

**Storage time sand temperatures may vary for premature or sick babies. Check with your health care provider.