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A Story about Expressing at Work

I had always said I was going to give breastfeeding a go and by the time I was ready to return to work I couldn’t think about any other way of feeding my baby. Although I was aware of other options, for us, I really wanted to continue breastfeeding, particularly because it was the easiest way for me to feed my baby when I was with her. Apparently, my daughter had a similar thought because she also did not want anything else!

When I had my daughter, I worked in a very fast-paced school and was worried about how I would find the extra time I might need to express milk. I discussed my wishes and concerns with my work before returning from maternity leave and although I didn’t know exactly how long I would need to express or how often I would need a break, my headteacher was wonderful and agreed that we could try a week or two to find a routine that worked for me. I found this invaluable as it was necessary to express for my own comfort and health (avoiding engorgement and potential mastitis) as well as to provide milk for my daughter who was being cared for by a local childminder.

I returned to work full time when my daughter was nearly 8 months old and I soon found a routine that worked for me and my work fully supported me.

Firstly, the management team suggested a suitable room I could use to express in, although it was used as a medical room, it had a lock and sign on the door to avoid being interrupted. The advantage of being a medical room was that it also had a sink and a fridge, this enabled me to fully clean my hands and surfaces before I started pumping and I was able to store my expressed milk in the fridge until the end of the day.

Secondly, my team supported me to take a break whenever I needed to express. Initially, while I was getting used to it and my supply was adjusting to a new routine, I was expressing about every 3 hours. I soon found my routine and supply adjusted so that I breastfed my daughter when I dropped her at the childminders, expressed and stored milk at lunch, then breastfed my daughter again at pick up before driving home. After the first couple of weeks, I found expressing in the middle of my day at the end of my lunch break worked best for me and meant that I didn’t usually need any other breaks for expressing but know I could have taken one if I needed it.

It worked well for us, as she got older, my daughter did reduce the amount and frequency of milk she was talking so that by around 15months, I felt I no longer needed to express at work. She usually drank water or cow’s milk while I was at work but then continued to have breastfeeds on demand at home, alongside a wider experience of solid foods.

My daily routine:

Before work

Pack pump and breastmilk storage bags

Breastfeed my daughter before dropping her at childcare

At work

Express, store milk in bag in fridge.

After work

Drop off expressed milk at the childminders for my daughter to have the next day.

Pick up and breastfeed my baby

At home

Wash up pump parts, sterilise.

*this routine was personal to what worked for me and my baby

If you are interested in continuing to breastfeed or want to discuss options for returning to work, LWBS are great for listening and sharing experiences and can access further support as necessary.

Looking back, I am proud of myself for managing my goals both for breastfeeding and my career. Returning to work and continuing breastfeeding were both very important to me and I am grateful for the support from the staff at my school as well as support and encouragement from breastfeeding peers that made this such a positive experience.

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