RETURNING TO WORK OR SCHOOL

You may want to continue breastfeeding while working or going back to school for many reasons: it’s the best food for your baby, it protects baby against illness, and it is a way to reconnect when you come home.

South Africa’s Code of Good Practice on the Protection of Employees during Pregnancy and After the Birth of a Child[1] provides you guaranteed breastfeeding breaks of 30 minutes twice per day, for nursing or milk expression each working day, for the first six months of the child’s life. Working breastfeeding mothers take less time off work to care for sick children.

 

A PLACE AT WORK OR SCHOOL TO EXPRESS

Is there a private area with a door that can be locked? If not, you can bring a screen for privacy or wear a nursing cover when expressing.

Is there a refrigerator to store your milk? If not, you will need to bring your own insulated cooler with an ice brick.

Some mothers use part of their lunch or tea breaks plus the breastfeeding breaks provided by the South African Code of Good Practice.[1]

 

AMOUNT OF MILK

Leave at least 30–40 ml of your milk for every hour that you are away from baby. Sometimes baby might need a bit more if baby is going through a growth spurt.

 

STORING YOUR MILK

Many mothers express milk at work today to leave with baby tomorrow.

Glass containers are good and can be used again. A hot soapy wash is all that is needed for a healthy full-term baby.

Keep your milk cold if you’re not using it in the next few hours.

If you’re storing milk to use later, you can mix it together once it’s at the same temperature.

Store milk in small batches of 60–100 ml to avoid wasting it.

 

FIRST DAYS BACK AT WORK

You will miss your baby and your baby will miss you. Make time in the morning for nursing before leaving.

Talk with baby’s caregiver about leaving your milk and how your baby will be fed (e.g., a bottle or plastic cup).

Bring your baby’s picture to look at or small piece of clothing to smell when expressing your milk.

Wear a loose-fitting shirt or one with buttons in the front to make expressing milk easier.

Your baby might nurse more at night to make up for time away from you. Many mothers keep baby close at night to get more rest. The more baby can nurse when you are together, the more milk your body will make.

USING YOUR MILK

Some babies are happy to drink cold milk, or you can heat the container in a bowl of hot water. Don’t heat milk directly on the stove or in a microwave.

Leftover milk can be given at the next feeding.

If the milk was frozen, don’t refreeze once it’s thawed, and use it within 24 hours.

Milk kept in an insulated cooler with ice packs can be used within 24 hours.

Milk kept in the back of the refrigerator can be used within 3–8 days.

Milk kept in the ice box of the refrigerator can be used within 2 weeks.

REFERENCES

[1] The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) of South Africa

- https://www.gov.za/documents/basic-conditions-employment-act

and

The “Code of Good Practice on the Protection of Employees during Pregnancy and after the Birth of a Child” COGP)

- http://www.labour.gov.za/DocumentCenter/Pages/Home.aspx