Breastfeeding and returning to work? Oh my!

Halton Region is celebrates World Breastfeeding Week 2011 from October 1-7.  Celebrate with us!  This post is the final in a series of three breastfeeding posts.

It was 11 months into my year-long maternity leave when I could no longer pretend that I wasn’t returning to full time work and needing to start my daughter in daycare.  Although I had enjoyed my job before having a baby, I couldn’t imagine leaving her.  How did other women do this?!  Since Ava’s preterm birth at 36 weeks, there had been very few occasions when we’d been apart.  For her first 7 months of life, she had exclusively breastfed.  Although she was now eating a great variety of solid foods, she continued to breastfeed frequently at all hours throughout the day.  I began to think about how my return to work would affect breastfeeding.  I knew that some moms had a baby friendly workplace where they pumped or manually expressed to relieve breast engorgement, while others collected their milk throughout the day to give to their daycare providers.

Although I produced ample breast milk, my past pumping experiences had been dismal.  When I had pumped, it was like getting “blood from a stone” as the expression goes.  I knew that it was okay to start feeding homogenized cow’s milk to her past 12 months of age. I tried to reassure myself that she was eating many different foods and surely wouldn’t starve.  I was told, “when she’s hungry enough, she’ll eat!”  Still I found small comfort in knowing these things.  During the last month of my mat leave I didn’t try to wean Ava from her daytime breast feedings, but sadly counted down the days until I returned to work.

During my first day back at work, my breasts were engorged by lunchtime; evidence that Ava was calling for my milk from across the miles!  The engorgement was uncomfortable but not so much so that I wasn’t able to distract myself with getting reacquainted with my job.  I wondered for the umpteenth time already that day how Ava was doing and focused on the benefits of her socializing with others.  I could hardly wait to see her at the end of the day.

As soon as I arrived home, Ava was immediately eager to breastfeed.  Words cannot describe how good it felt to reconnect with her by breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding is so much more than providing nutrition.  On that very first day, Ava stopped breastfeeding at one point, looked up at me, giggled with delight, then buried her face into my breast and resumed feeding!  This reassured me more than words ever could that my return to work and Ava’s start to daycare would be okay.  Surprisingly, the breast engorgement resolved over the next week and I still was able to breastfeed Ava when I was at home in the evenings and during the weekends.

Fast forward a few months later… Ava became ill for the very first time since starting daycare.  For the next couple of days, Ava breastfed almost as frequently as a newborn.  Breastfeeding was so comforting to both of us.  It can be so stressful when your child is sick and I felt reassured that I was able to comfort to her and keep her hydrated by breastfeeding.

I hope that my experience with breastfeeding upon my return to work will provide some encouragement to other nursing moms to continue to breastfeed past the one year maternity leave.  Breastfeeding definitely helped both my daughter and me with the transition to daycare and back to work.

Share your experience:

For more tips and hints about breastfeeding and returning to work or school, or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly:

  • Leave us a comment below – we’d love your feedback
  • Talk to us on Twitter: @haltonparents
  • Email us at
  • Dial 311 or 905-825-6000 for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

About this guest blogger:

Jen Johnson, RN is a Public Health Nurse with the Region of Halton and a mother of 2 daughters, Ava (6years) and Lily (4years).  Ava weaned herself when Jen was 5 months pregnant with Lily.  Lily breastfed for two and a half years.  A couple of months after Lily had completely weaned herself from the breast, she asked for the breast.  Almost as soon as she had latched on, she popped off and exclaimed, “it’s not working” and “it smells like chicken!”

This entry was posted in Babies, Breastfeeding Your Baby, Breastfeeding Your Child, Parenting Your Baby, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Toddlers & Preschoolers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Breastfeeding and returning to work? Oh my!

  1. Heather says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I am going back to work as a teacher this August. My son will be 12 months old and I don’t want to pump at work, but I do want to continue nursing. You have inspired me and showed me that it is possible. Thank you so much!!

    • Karen Hay says:

      Thanks Heather for your comment. So glad you found it inspiring! Good luck with your transition back to work. We are always here to answer any questions you might have along your parenting journey.

      Karen on behalf of Halton Parents

  2. Pingback: Back to work: My new reality! | HaltonParents

  3. Rachel says:

    Thank you for this post. It is very helpful and reassuring!

  4. Pingback: Returning to work? How to make breastfeeding work for you! | HaltonParents

  5. Magdalena Harlos says:

    I’m returning to work and have also wondered about pumping at work. My almost 1 year old son is allergic to diary so he can’t have regular milk but I have been trying to get him used to other types so that they can feed him something other than breastmilk at daycare.
    He has been attending daycare for the last couple weeks so he can adjust well when I return to work but I worry that I won’t be able to provide the daycare with breastmilk like I have been because I won’t have as much time to pump.

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