For many women, returning to work is often seen as a barrier or an end to breastfeeding. All working moms should know that they do have a choice when it comes to continuing breastfeeding. I repeat: You don’t have to give up breastfeeding just because you have to go back to work.

Each August World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated and this year’s theme is ‘Breastfeeding and Work – Let’s make it work’, addressing one of the challenges and fears that most mothers face when they have to return to work.

The majority of breastfeeding mothers are completely unaware that they are protected by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) in South Africa, which should make the process of continuing breastfeeding when returning to work much easier. So what does the BCEA entail with regards to breastfeeding mothers? Don’t worry I’ve got you covered!

According to the BCEA – Breastfeeding mothers are allowed to have breaks of 30 minutes twice per day for breast-feeding or expressing milk each working day for the first six months of the child’s life. This means that you are allowed two breaks of 30 minutes each in addition to your usual lunch break and tea breaks.

Here are some practical tips and tricks to help you continue your breastfeeding journey when returning to work:

  • Ensure you feed your little one by breastfeeding right before leaving for work.
  • Breastfeed your little one as soon as you return home from work.
  • For babies older than six months of age, make sure your caregiver does not give your baby a big meal or snack before you get home, which will ensure that your little one will want to breastfeed as soon as you get home.
  • Start building up a milk supply before returning to work.
  • Registered dieticians are trained to assist mothers with breastfeeding as well as to assist mothers with continued breastfeeding when returning to work and are able to help you calculate how much milk you need to express during the day.
  • All milk should be dated before storing.
  • Expressed breast milk can be stored at room temperature for about six to eight hours or in the refrigerator or a cooler for 3 to 5 days, if you are in a pinch.
  • Storing milk in 60 to 120 ml amounts may reduce waste.
  • Nursing frequently in the evening and at night will keep up your milk.

I hope these guidelines and tips will help you to express yourself at work!

By Salomé Scholtz – Registered Dietician

Salome Scholtz

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