Would you…: Keep Breastfeeding at work?

*Warning, if you’re not a mother or not Breastfeeding, you may not enjoy this post! But it’s a normal thing to do, so I’m not holding back on talking about it here.

A few people have asked what I’m doing about feeding now I’m back at work. I’ll share my situation here but each situation when it comes to breastfeeding is as unique as the mother and child combination, so I would love if you would share your experiences and solutions in the comments if you can add to the conversation – I know many readers will be interested and grateful.

Bea is exclusively breastfed and has been since birth. She’s never had any formula as we have been lucky enough not to need it. I’ve not spent a lot of time apart from her and expressing doesn’t bother me that much, apart from it being a bit of faff. We have only infrequently given her bottles, (the bulk of my expressing here and there went in the freezer to bolster my back to work supplies,) mainly when I went to evening practice meetings each month for work. Apart from a brief period around the 4 month mark when she wouldn’t take a bottle, she has taken it when she wants milk, but not in the same enthusiastic way she would breastfeed. We initially started with a Medela calma teat (which is supposed to require the latch a baby needs to breastfeed, to get any milk out of it,) but switched to a slow flow normal teat when she was a bit fussier with a bottle, as I felt if she could taste the milk she might then take the bottle. It worked, but I don’t know if that was just the passage of time rather than the change of teat.

So back to my back to work plan… I’ve kept a close eye on Bea’s feeds since she was born, but continued to track them well after BF was established, mainly to see what I would need to provide for her once back at work. I’ve been asked how I tried to reduce her feeds and I didn’t really try, but two things probably had the greatest impact. Firstly, I didn’t push her to feed generally as she got older and so noticed that she went longer between feeds. That might sound like straight forward demand feeding, but I noticed myself that even though she was fed on demand, you do get into a routine of feeding when you expect they will need feeding rather than waiting for them to be hungry or cry. On occasions where it went a bit longer and I realised she didn’t need a feed until 2.5 or 3 hours after the last one, I tried to adjust things going forwards. Secondly, as she got older and consolidated her three short naps into 2 longer ones (around 6-7 months) that stretched out the feeds again (as she went down for a nap not long before she would normally feed and then I fed her on waking, after more time had elapsed.) Weaning also stretched things out a little more, but it hasn’t made a massive difference really, the meals have just had to be shoehorned in between the feeds.

On the expressing front, as I said, I have stockpiled quite a bit in the freezer (as you can see from my photo’s!) which should also give you an idea of how much milk varies – even on frozen portions you can see how the milk changes in consistency and amount day to day, which I thought might be useful to show if its something that worried you. I was very worried about expressing at work as I have always got the most milk, quickest, by expressing on one side when Bea feeds from the other, I think the let-down is stronger that way. When I have occasionally tried when Bea isn’t even around, its been much slower going and less productive, so I was worried if it would work when I was away from her and back at work. Having done it for the first time yesterday (I didn’t get time on my first day back!) I’m happy to report it was easy! I managed a full bottle easily which is great as I can then use that on friday when I’m back in work again. I’m also lucky that I have my own room at work so I have simply let the staff and my colleagues know I am still feeding Bea and will need to express at some point when I’m at work (so they know why there’s a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door,) and lock the door for privacy.

At the moment, Bea is having 4 feeds a day; Morning, after morning nap, after afternoon nap and before bed. (She’s 8 months but has done this since about 7 months.) Although when she is with me that varies – if she’s distracted at one feed and doesn’t have much she might have one or two more smaller feeds throughout the day, as and when she needs it. So I’m feeding her before work and before bed, and leaving 2 bottles. The only thing that is a bit hit and miss is how much she takes, or what I should be leaving her. Obviously I have no idea how much she takes from me, but I leave 2 full bottles and so far, it’s varied how much she has taken and how often. Sometimes she wolfs a whole bottle (we use the small 150ml ones) and other times she’ll have only a bit and want more later when she wouldn’t normally have a bottle. And there’s always more in the freezer, but obviously at this point, she is having 3 meals a day too.

I did a lot of asking around before getting to this point because feeding her back at work really worried me – mainly that I could get her feeds down to a level that I could keep up with to express enough for her. A lot of mums suggested just going to formula, and although I didn’t want to do that*, I knew if it was coming down to her nutritional needs and me not being able to meet them, then I’d have to do it. Others said their babies just didn’t take a bottle and some moved to giving small amounts in a sippy cup or doidy cup if the baby would take it. Other still said the baby jut waited for them to get back and fed more in the evening (and sometimes at night :/ ) and had just water in the day. So I guess there’s a solution for everyone.

And that’s it, our story. I’ll post a little update when I share more about being back to work, and see what Bea is doing then. I’m hoping as my freezer supply dwindles she may drop another feed and the expressing will take even less effort!

Please do chip in with your experiences readers!


*Just to clarify, I have NOTHING against formula, I just haven’t felt we’ve needed it so far and because BF is all about supply and demand, especially at this time when supply is naturally decreasing due to reduced feeds, I didn’t want to affect it further. I hope to keep feeding Bea at least until she is one and beyond if she wants it, so I don’t want to do anything to reduce the chances of that happening at this early stage.

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42 thoughts on “Would you…: Keep Breastfeeding at work?

  1. Hi Rebecca,
    Really interesting post – thank you. I’m being a bit head in the sand about what I do when I go back to work. G will be 11 months by then, so I had hoped a morning and before bed feed would be enough…..
    That said we are still it utter chaos with both sleep and feeds really, and I feel I need to do something about it but I’m not sure what.
    He still feeds morning, once through the day, before bed and dream feed on average. I’d hoped to drop the dream feed by now but his sleeping is still so erratic- he’s been teething and in the last 10 days has only slept more than 3 hours twice! He’s also much harder to settle when he wakes at night, but I am adamant not to go back to night feeds, as I’m on night shift second week back at work – ironically I’ll probably be better rested on nights than days for the first time in my life

    • Weird my last paragraph disappeared.
      He’s also cows milk and soya intolerant so although I’d happily give formula he won’t touch the special stuff as it tastes rank ( can’t blame him really). So I probably need to express but it is soooo time consuming.
      Looking forward to hearing others thoughs and experiences

      • I went back to work at 11 months and at that point, Evelyn was down to just morning and evening feeds (which we still do at 18months) plus sometimes one before her single daytime nap (to get her to sleep!). We still did the pre-nap feed for a while but obviously being at nursery she couldn’t do this. After the initial settling in phase, she thrived at nursery – falling asleep easily on her own and eating/drinking well. She does, however, still have a completely different routine at nursery to home!

        I remember stressing massively at 9-10months as she was napping erratically, not eating well and waking loads at night. She still wakes but it’s mostly manageable and I find being in work quite a lot less tiring than being at home with a very active toddler!

        They change hugely in the period 9-12 months so try not to worry too much, you’ll both be OK, one way or another.

    • I initially was trying to stop the dream feed Jo in anticipation of returning to work, then I thought it is actually the one that I needed to drop the least, as I’m always home and it might help us with supply and getting milk into her for nutrition, but obviously that will be tricky for you on shifts. Does G wake for his DF? I’ve always had to wake Bea for hers, unless she’s ill and up/down in the evening) and on occasion when I have left her, I’ve discovered she doesn’t need it. At the moment we’re having a really bad run of sleep due to a cold, and have stopped DF as I know she’ll wake between 11-2ish anyway, but when things settle I will likely reinstate it for a period of time before dropping again, to encourage her to getting back to sleeping through the night.

      I know what you mean when you say ‘we are still it utter chaos with both sleep and feeds really, and I feel I need to do something about it but I’m not sure what.’ – I have no idea how to tackle Bea’s poor sleep at the moment but I’m just going with it and hoping it passes! GL x

  2. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently so I’m really interested to hear others’ experiences.

    My son is 9 1/2 months old and exclusively breast fed. He has also been on 3 solid meals a day for the past 2 months and loves his food (he ate 3 weetabix, an egg and a banana for breakfast this morning!). I’m going back to work 2 weeks before his first birthday and always just assumed that the number of feeds would start to reduce but when thy didn’t I started to worry. Recently I’ve been making a conscious effort to offer snacks and water throughout the day and not just offer the boob at every slight grizzle and have noticed that we can normally manage on 3 feeds a day; post breakfast/pre first nap, 1-2pm and before bed at 6pm. I’m hoping that as we get closer to me starting work that midday feed will naturally be dropped or replaced by milk in a cup and I can just do the morning and bedtime feeds.

    I have been (and still am really) struggling with the logistics of how to do this. Our health visitor is shocking and didn’t have any useful advice and the information I found online was conflicting at best and most of the time made me feel awful about not giving my baby what he needs. I found lists of reasons you might be wanting to cut down or stop with “helpful” work arounds (eg your baby’s carer bringing them to your office for feeds throughout the day!). There is so much information (and pressure!) about getting breast feeding established but then so little about stopping. It’s emotional enough as it is without the extra worry of is your baby getting enough milk etc.

    Looking forward to hearing other wise readers’ experiences!

    • I’m trying to think how to word this without sounding dismissive because I’m absolutely not meaning to be dismissive. I genuinely thought nursery might ban my daughter because she was so dreadful at going down for a nap. But (said in the gentlest possible way) 2 months is a long time in the life of a baby, it is great to be prepared and have thought through logistics but you can’t really predict how he will be feeding in two months time. I returned to work when my daughter was 10 months, her feeding pattern then versus her feeding pattern at a year was totally different. As you say once he is a year old you can start introducing cows milk.

      I completely agree there is absolutely no advice about stopping feeding. It is an emotional minefield as well.

      I hope I haven’t been too much of an arse and good luck with your return to work.

      • Not at all! It’s actually hugely reassuring 🙂 i know I’m over thinking it but I’m dreading going back to work anyway and the thought of us not being “ready” scares me. Thanks for commenting 🙂

    • I stopped breastfeeding at 11 and a half months, although instead of a return to work it was because I was pregnant and it was no longer working for either of us. I’ll definitely second what mysparethoughts has said in that the difference between 9-11 months was pretty huge, and it’s really hard to predict where they will be in advance!

      In terms of the practicalities, since there is NO useful advice out there (a proper bug bear of mine!) I found that her feeding pattern didn’t actually change from what you are doing now (morning, nap, bed) so I switched one feed at a time, starting with nap. I did a bottle since she did take one from my husband before bed anyway, but it could be a cup or whatever suits you. It probably took a week to fully get her used to it. Then we switched the morning feed when she was happy with the change.

      Once we’d switched she completely stopped asking. I went straight to cow’s milk (after asking my pediatrician if she was ok with it- she was) and it took a bit of practice but that was 5 months ago and we’ve never looked back.

      Every situation is completely different and the way I did it is definitely not the ‘right’ way but I just wanted to give you confidence that it can be done at that age without being the worst/hardest thing ever. And NEVER let anyone make you feel bad for stopping feeding. We had a great 11 and a half months of it, but now she guzzles water and cow’s milk and actually chooses to give me cuddles- something she never did til we stopped feeding!

      All the love, and try not to worry. x

    • I think what you have said about not offering the boob as much really makes a difference! Its a fast fix when you’re BF, but often isn’t really for a proper feed, so when you cut the comfort out (as harsh as that sounds, I don’t mean it like that!) He’s probably not having anywhere near as many as you think.

      I’m confused by your post Martha – when you talk about no info for stopping feeding… do you want to stop BF? Or are you doing it because you see no other way/have no info/support on continuing at work? Or do you just mean reducing feeds to a manageable level while working when you stay ‘stopping’?

      And Ha! – Re a carer bringing the baby to work. It would be wonderful if that was an option, but I can’t imagine it is for many working mothers!


      • I just want to cut down to a manageable amount in order to go back to work at the moment. I’m hoping to do morning and bedtime feeds for a while longer. But we will need to stop one day and this is obviously something that a lot of mothers go through so I’m surprised and frustrated that there is so little support for both cutting down and stopping breast feeding altogether.

  3. Really glad to hear that things are working out well.

    Your post brought back a lot of memories of my return to work and continuing breastfeeding. I think there are a few things that women who wish to express at work have to think about.

    Where are you going to express? Rebecca – you are so lucky to have your own room! I was also very fortunate that my employer provided a room for nursing mothers, there were a couple of times I went to express and another mother was using the room but I just went back half an hour later. When I first returned to work the room was also being used as a cleaning cupboard. There were a couple of occasions when a cleaner walked in on me – they had their own key. The room smelt of bleach and was hardly conducive to nursing. Thankfully after contacting HR the cleaning equipment and products were moved to a different room. Even after all that it was better than nothing, which a lot of women face.

    Storage: We have a fridge and freezer in our office but many offices won’t. I was also a bit embarrassed to store my milk in the office fridge. I bought a cool bag and ice packs that kept the milk cold until the end of the day.

    Talking to your employer: That was a little excruciating, even in a female dominated office it was embarrassing to discuss with my manager that I was still feeding and that I would need time to go and express. Also fitting time in around meetings to go and express was difficult. I remember many a time feeling my boobs getting heavier and heavier in a meeting and panicking about leakages.

    I only ever got the most milk when I was relaxed. I’m never relaxed in the middle of a working day! I would look at pictures of my daughter to help stimulate the milk.

    I’d recommend nursing mothers go and speak to their local breastfeeding group. They will be able to give you tips and advice about expressing and how feeding might change. Some babies won’t take bottles so a cup is a good alternative. Some babies will just wait it out and feed when they’re back with their mother. Although my daughter took bottles well I found the feed when I got home from work was massive and timing that with then giving her solid food was quite tricky.

    Just some random thoughts. Sorry for the epic comment.

    • Great comment, thanks for being a bit more practical – my post is purely what we have done, rather than a how-to!

      Broaching expressing at work is a bit of a nightmare. Although I have my own room, it may as well have a revolving door and especially when I’m on call or between surgeries, the admin and reception staff are in and out all the time as well as other Dr’s. So yesterday I though I’ll just have to bite the bullet and spread the work. Doing it via email was easier! I did wonder if they would all think it was a bit TMI for a colleague, but I can’t just lock my door and shout come back later when I may be needed so it had to be done.

      There are certain rights you have when wanting to BF at work and your employer is obliged to help you continue by providing somewhere clean to express etc… you can find out more here: http://www.maternityaction.org.uk/wp/advice-2/mums-dads-scenarios/6-breastfeeding-rights/continuing-to-breastfeed-when-you-return-to-work/
      It’s just hard talking about it sometimes which is ridiculous because it’s just another fact of life. 🙂

  4. I’m so glad its going well for you Rebecca.

    Iris is now 9 months old and I’ve been back at work for 6 weeks on a 4 day a week basis. She was EBF before I went back to work and my intention was that she would continue to breastfeed for her morning and evening feeds and that her day feeds (post morning nap, post lunch and 3.30ish) would be a mixture of breastmilk and HIPP Organic because I didn’t want to put myself under the pressure of keeping her EBF. For the first six weeks it went very well and I pumped before work, at lunchtime and in the evening as well as doing the morning and evening feeds and my supply remained good. I have become quite the ninja pumper – at work I do it in the disabled loo, at all day meetings I have done it all over the place. When travelling, I recommend the babycare facilities at Heathrow which are excellent for pumpers.
    However, I had to go away for two nights for work which coincided with Iris getting a nasty cold and her top two teeth; while I pumped religiously (and time consumingly) while I was away and my supply was maintained, she is very much on a nursing strike and just screams when presented with a boob. If she does latch, shortly after she will then delatch and bite and with teeth that meet top and bottom its extremely painful.
    I am hopeful that this is just a phase and am doing as much skin to skin and boob offering as I can so that we can resume BF once she is less snotty and congested but I do wonder whether it might be the end of our BF relationship. We are lucky in that BF has always been very easy for us and I had hoped to continue beyond 1 but am doing my best not to beat myself up about it and celebrate what we did achieve.

    I hope it continues to be easy and happy for you and Bea.

    • I think you’ve done really well – I am in a fortunate position in that I’m only part time now, so hopefully, the impact feeding less on those days I’m at work will have, will be negated by feeding on demand on the four days I’m with her at home. It must be really hard to maintain supply if you’re FT at work. Fingers crossed for you that you get past this phase, xxx

    • My Fred is now 9 months old, I’m due back to work next week(!) and am still exclusively breast feeding, I just wanted to say that when Fred’s teeth came in it took us a few weeks to get to grips with breastfeeding, it’s almost like learning how to latch again! His teeth came in very early, the bottom two at four months, his top two by six, he now has four on top and three on the bottom, with another one starting to poke its way through! I came very close to giving up when his top two came in as bitting hurts A LOT! I usually like to feed lying down as it’s easier now his so big and I find he gets distracted less, also try detaching Iris when you feel like she’s almost finished, I also had to calmly say ‘no, that’s not very nice’ to Fred if he did bite, it worked eventually! (I got told if you scream, or make a noise, babies can continue to bite to see what reaction they get!)

      I’m dreading going back as I have loved being home with Fred more then I ever thought I would, luckily my mum is having him and she lives round the corner from my work, so I will be seeing him for an hour during the day!!

  5. I returned to work last week. Up to that point, Willow had been completely exclusively breastfed, refusing even expressed milk from a bottle from about 6 weeks old. I have LOVED breastfeeding and our bf relationship has been so wonderful from day one.

    Last week, I was expressing with a hand pump (pumping and dumping) at work, and then pumping at home on my days off to build up freezer supply to syringe/sippy cup feed Willow with on my work days. HOWEVER, Willow was taking virtually no milk (maybe half an ounce) in my absence and started feeding a million times at night. I then got a major case of engorgement. Something had to change.

    Long story short, after major soul searching, I decided to go cold turkey on breastfeeding and get her onto the bottle (HIPP Organic formula). My heart is broken, but I saw no alternative option. I was braced for the worst, given the meltdowns we have had over the bottle up to now, but we had one huge crying fit and since then it has been smooth sailing! I think I have found it sadder than she has.

    I desperately wanted to keep a morning and bedtime feed until she was one. But the combination feeding was confusing her, and frustating her when she couldn’t get the boob, so this is how it has to be.

    I really wish you all the best with the expressing – sounds like you have all the fundamentals in place for it to work well as a long term solution. If you’re worried at all about her consumption, have you tried getting some of the expressed milk into her food? Last week we liberally soaked weetabix for brekkie, chucked a load into mashed potato for lunch, used it to make cheese sauce for dinner etc etc.xx

    • Oh I’m sorry you’ve had to stop Rosie. I think you’re right, for me, continuing is almost more for me than her! Although breast milk has to be the gold standard, formula would have been every bit as good for her and if we have to go that way, it’ll be me who suffers not her. Hopefully you’ll get cuddle like Lorna says instead 🙂

    • Ah this just made me cry Rosie as it’s so like my situation. Phoebe refuses the bottle point blankly and goes bananas if I try to put one anywhere near her. She happily took one from about 4-6 months in the evening but since then it’s a no go for some reason so I think I’ll be left with no option but to go cold turkey when the time comes which makes me so sad! I’d love to drop down and maybe continue a feed or two but I think once she hits one, I’ll have no option but to
      Go cold turkey. Sad times x

      • Hi Steph

        Just came back here to post an update and saw your comment. I hope that my update gives you some hope. After 48 hours of cold turkey (actually the end of the day I posted this comment!), I began feeling very very down in the dumps. Almost uncontrollably emotional. I decided on the train home that night that I would try a bedtime breastfeed, with the bottle in the night if she woke up. I promised myself that if she then started refusing the bottle again I would never try and breatsfeed her again. Anyway, the feeling of that feed was amazing (hormones are incredible things). I immediately felt balanced again and Willow clearly loved it too. In the night, she took the bottle with a tiny bit of fussing and has continued to take it since. I now breastfeed her at bedtime and first feed of the morning and the rest of the time it’s bottle. I feel incredibly lucky that we’ve managed this, and going back to a breastfeed was a risky decision given how temperamental Willow is with the bottle. But all I can advise from experience is that you keep expressing when you go cold turkey, in case – like me – you decide to go back to one or two feeds a day once bottle feeding is established xx

  6. I could wang on about this til the cows come home. I’ll try not to, but concise never was a strength of mine…

    I went back to work, 2 days a week, when Stella was 8m old. Up until that day, and for at least another 6 weeks on the 5 days we were together, she fed every 90 minutes and never took a bottle. I was devastated to be potentially ‘depriving’ her, starving her even – what if I got home and she’d eaten nothing lalalalaaaaaaa.

    Fact is, she was fine. What worked best for us was my leaving an 8-10oz bottle with Phil/my parents and they’d offer it to her throughout the day. Sometimes I’d come home and all 10oz would be gone, others she’d barely take an oz. She absolutely made me pay for it at night, but she never bloody slept anyway so it was no biggie! The big thing for me was recognising that she was changing massively week by week. By the time I had finished worrying about this or that amount of milk, she’d moved the goalposts anyway.

    Rtw didn’t affect our feeding in the slightest, we went on to feed til 19m when a vicious bout of nursing aversion hit as I got to 12w pregnant. I couldn’t WAIT to stop at the time (which was achieved surprisingly easily with daddy, cows milk and an anywayupcup) which really surprised me but I’ll always be a little bid sad that that’s how it came to pass. I’d imagine we’d still be going now and thinking about tandem feeding but I’ll never know!

    Practically speaking, I don’t think anyone will cover as much as well as mysparethoughts – bloody brilliant advice. Especially considering that my work were able to make zero allowances when I returned and I found myself hand-expressing in the changing rooms of the TKMaxx across the road 3 times a day. I negotiated extra pay for the inconvenience and found I had to be completely, unashamedly graphic and bold with my late 20s male boss in order to achieve that. It wasn’t a pleasant experience but I found I had reserves of courage and – pardon the expression – massive balls (or boobs?!) because it was my BABY I was fighting for. I think it does a patriarchal office/team/environment the world of good to be shaken up a bit.

    I have to stop before I send myself into labour with all my ranting. Suffice to say, this topic is firmly on my soapbox list…!

      • Mine, interestingly. I had no plans to stop and had even started to research tandem feeding but I suddenly found myself feeling physically ill during feeds, with incredibly painful boobs and an overwhelming urge to *not* have Stella at the breast. Luckily she moved seamlessly to bedtime without me/my boobs and we had a wonderful final feed that I was able to prepare for physically and emotionally. Thankfully there were no issues for either of us, bar a little bit of sadness on my part!

        • Mmm, I’m heard feeding is hard with sore boobs when pregnant. Very glad to hear about your seamless evening transition. I feed Bea to sleep at night and do worry at what point she will go down with out it. It’s not an issue for us now and I’m sure time will just resolve it… 🙂

  7. Aisling: I had to explain to my early 40s, unmarried, massive player (and quite hot!) boss why I had to step out of investor meetings for 30 mins every 3ish hours in my first couple of weeks back. He was definitely more embarrassed than I was. Interestingly pumping at work is much more accepted in the States because women go back to work so much earlier and I’ve never had any problem being given a small meeting room or similar to pump in when I’m there and even the men take it in their stride.

    For those who have recently stopped BF, I hadn’t realised until I did the research how massive the hormone drop could be when breastfeeding slows and then ends. I found these articles really interesting

  8. I went back to work at 11 months, except back to work was to a brand new job so the thought of asking new employers about expressing was just too hard for me to contemplate.
    I had a complete stress on what to do about feeding at 9 months when I realised that I had to have a plan for two months time. T had been a chronic bottle refuser during all that time and I didn’t know how I would get milk into her!
    So I trundled along to my local breastfeeding café for advice and they were so helpful, with some really useful tips. The counsellor reassured me that T would be fine if she was tanked up first thing and in the evening, to try and offer milk in a cup during the day but most importantly not to stress if she didn’t want anything. They reminded me of all the other sources of milk she was getting through the day besides feeding, cereal, yoghurt etc, which I really hadn’t thought about.
    With a bit of persistence, in advance of starting work we’d pretty much managed to cut out the middle of the day feed and replace it with a cup of cows milk (before 12 months, but I’d been given advice that because she was getting other feeds and wasn’t relying just on cows milk it was fine).
    In the end by 11 months, T wasn’t that interested in milk during the day. We kept the evening feed for a couple of months, but my coming home time was much the same as bedtime and T used to get excited by me being home and not feed properly so replaced that with a bottle (which she’d finally decided she liked, against all health visitor advice for age appropriateness!!).
    I kept the morning feed for longer as it was lovely to start the day with a snuggly feed in bed. However, T got a bad cough at about 15 months and I was offering her water to sooth throat in the morning and she just decided she didn’t need any milk after that, and with that feeding ended!
    So after my ramble, I think my point is that as everyone has said the change between 9-12 months is enormous and to a large part you will be guided by your baby on feeding despite your best intentions to have plans. Secondly, go talk to your breastfeeding adviser as they will have dealt with this so many times before.

    • This is exactly what I needed to hear! Had been meaning I get on touch with a bf counsellor too so this has given me the push I need to do it.

      • Martha so pleased it helped a little. Just read back through your post – I think I had a lot of the same issues as you, I searched everywhere for some decent advice on how to decrease/end feeding & it really doesn’t seem to exist, the health visitors weren’t helpful at all but I will sing praises of BF counsellors all day long!

  9. Great article and timing! I was just about to look for information about continuing breastfeeding while returning to work, as it’s now just 4 weeks until I return to work and I’ve realised I don’t have a plan of action!

    How often were you expressing to build up a supply in the freezer?

    I’m returning to work just 2 days a week and so would love to continue breastfeeding but I won’t be home from work until after he is in bed for 2 consecutive days a week, so I’m not sure how that will work in practice!

    • I tended to do it randomly although I’ve read for the best result you should do every day at the same time so your body gets used to producing at that time. Bea has been very up and down with amounts of feeds recently due to a run of colds, so when she has fed less and I’ve felt full I’ve expressed, probably 3x a week on average but more often every day for a few days then not for a week… I’ve only stashed about 12 portions, but Combined with a fresh bottle and my phased return that will get us through about 6 weeks I reckon and hopefully she’ll drop one by then.

    • I went back for two consecutive days (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) too, Emma. I had a fair amount stashed in the freezer thanks to bonkers supply anyway, but actually once we’d rinsed through that, I settled into a routine of pumping Tuesday’s bottle on Monday – I could easily get the 8-10oz in a couple of goes over the day whilst Stella napped. Then the milk I expressed at work on Tuesday was for madam on Wednesday. Wednesday’s milk I popped in the freezer to restart/maintain a wee stash, more for my own peace of mind.

      I hope that helps/makes sense!

      • Thanks Aisling! I was hoping that a pattern of expressing like that would work when I go back, so it’s good to hear it did for you! I just need to get Max used to taking a bottle now! X

  10. Hi Rebecca

    I’ve been following your posts for a while now – my little lady is slightly younger but a lot of your experience echoes mines so v interesting to see it talked about. So I thought I’d join the conversation

    I went back to work this week, so she was just under 10 months. She’s always been EBF and totally refused a bottle ever, despite many many attempts and following all advice on the Internet. Didn’t make a difference whether it was formula or EBM, whatever teat, bottle we used, who fed her etc. so we gave up.

    I’ve been worrying a lot therefore about what the hell would happen when I went back to work. She has expressed no interest in taking milk from a cup (though very good at drinking water from it), and at 9 months was still on 4 feeds a day. All advice I could find about going back to work was about expressing, maintaining supply etx. But all irrelevant for us. So, as she was on three good meals a day I literally just decided to stop the feeds during the day – her mid morning feed she dropped with no fuss – as others have said I was clearly feeding her because I expected to and as it had become part of her routine rather than because she was demanding it. Her feed after lunch was a little more tricky – she definitely demanded it- but I found if I just put her down for her nap straight after lunch she slept anyway, and then when she woke up I just gave her a snack or water if she seemed to want something and she is not bothered. So in 3 weeks we went from 4 to 2 feeds which I can manage before and after work.

    She gets plenty of calcium from dairy throughout the day and is growing at a rate of knots so I’m not worried about her. Such a shame that I spent precious weeks of maternity leave worrying about it – if I could follow my own advice it would be to try to go with the flow as much as possible – they are more adaptable than we give them credit for I think!

    Good luck at work.

  11. Hi,

    This has been such an interesting post to read, however l am reading it from a slightly different perspective- I am the mam of a two month old who exclusively pumps. This was not my plan but after weeks of poor latching, tongue tie, inadequate weight gain and a lactation consultant telling me that I need to start enjoying my time with her I decided to pump. Although I felt a great sense of relief having made a decision and having a feeding plan, I was so disappointed that I would not nurse Ada. As the weeks pass, I’m getting into the swing of pumping and an delighted to see my little girl putting on heaps of weight! I am beginning to make peace with the situation. On the whole pumping isn’t too bad and there are pros- dad can feed, don’t need to worry about weaning to a bottle, can comfortably and confidently feed wherever and I know exactly how much she is getting, which for us is great given the weight loss at the beginning.

    However, there are a number of downsides which some readers maybe able to help me overcome. We like to get out and about lots so pumping on the go is a bit of a nightmare. I’m currently renting the Medela Symphony, this is a great pump but can only be used plugged in and it’s huge! I am looking at other pumps at the moment, I would like a double, electric pump which runs off batteries also. The one I am drawn to is the medela freestyle. The medela swing also has good reviews so I’m a little torn. I am just scared that moving from the hospital grade pump to a lesser pump will damage my supply. Has anyone any experience of this? Or any pump recommendations?

    Also in terms of pumping on the go- has anyone any tips? Where do you usually do this? In breastfeeding rooms in shopping centres? In cafes? At mother and baby groups? I don’t want to invest in a pump only to realise I have no where to go.

    Finally, in terms of storage what do you use? I am freezing my oversupply in small 50ml sterifeed cylinders which are great – someone advised me to freeze in small quantities to avoid wastage. However, I can’t seem to source them anywhere as they are for hospital supply only. Rebecca, I see you use the lasinoh bags which are s lot cheaper than medela bags – do you recommend these?

    I am sorry for hijacking your post with pumping problems, but hopefully someone out there will have some advice. Thanks again for posting such a valuable topic, I look forward to revisiting on my next!!

    • Wow, I’m really impressed Mareesa – that’s commitment to the cause! Well done.

      I use the Medela Swing and think it’s great, but it’s not a double pump so maybe not right for you and I can’t compare to a hospital grade as I haven’t used it. Mine cost about £100 and looking at your situation, I can’t see that buying your own could be anything other than a great investment?

      Can’t say much about he bags other than they do what they’re supposed to! In your situation it might be worth getting a pump that allows you to express directly into bags? Would be helpful on the go too.

      Hope that helps x

  12. I was self-employed when I had Ava, and just used to fit in half days here and there, and work some evenings.

    I used to have to do the occasional full day before she was 1, and she’d just have water on these days (she was about 10/11 months old). I’d never bothered with a bottle or expressing, as I didn’t have a standard job to go back to, but flexible. Also, she took to a sippy cup immediately. She used to drink water from a cup, from about 4 months, as I’d sometimes have to leave her with my mum for a couple of hours. Also she was always a big baby (91st percentile), and took to solids at just over four months. She has always been brilliant with her solids. After 1, she used to have cows milk from a sippy cup. I would not regularly leave her for a full day. It would usually be from about 9.30am to 4pm.

    I have for the last four months, been employed. Four days a week. I love my new job. I do know that when I have a second, I will need to do a rethink on expressing and bottles.

    Ava is now coming up to 26 months, and I’m still breastfeeding. My husband is beginning to put pressure on me to stop, but so far I’m ignoring. Ava’s feeding much less, so I’m hoping she will self-wean. We want to start trying for another child in September, so I need her weaned before then.

    Well done on the expressing front.


  13. Your breast feeding posts have been very useful. My son was born 1 year after Bea and I have turned to them (and all the comments) for inspiration and advice a number of times.

    My baby is 7 months old. My plan was to reach 6 months breast feeding and then slowly swap to formula (as this is what all my friends have done!) I bought the bottles and the formula but I felt uneasy about it. Reading your blog has encouraged me to continue BF exclusively.

    I go back to work when he is 12m old. My husband is keen for that to mark an end to my BF journey. I feel this is reasonable (although I will probably carry on or at least express) I am already worried about returning to work as he still refuses a bottle but I am hoping he will feed less by then or take a sippy cup??

    I do worry that the older he gets, the more upset he will be when I decide to stop. Will he not understand and feel rejected?? He already pats my chest and mashes his face in when he is hungry.

    Will you be doing any more BF blogs? I would love to know if you are still feeding Bea. Do you plan to let her self wean or if you have stopped already – how did that go?


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