Breastfeeding and Working: You Can Do It
Breastfeeding comes with many health benefits for both you and your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recognizes human milk as the preferred nutrition source for infants. For women who choose to breastfeed, doing so may prove more difficult once it is time to go back to work. Returning to work outside the home during the first year after birth can create barriers to breastfeeding and may cause women to stop nursing when they return to work.
Scientific studies over the years have found evidence that breastfeeding decreases your child's risk of ear infections, pulmonary infections, diarrhea, obesity, sudden infant death syndrome, and many other conditions. For these reasons, the AAP now recommends breastfeeding for the first year of a child's life.
Breastfeeding also benefits mom by reducing the risk of postpartum depression, speeding the return to pre-pregnancy weight, and possibly reducing the risk of several serious diseases including ovarian and breast cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
And since breastfed infants tend to be sick less often, working mothers who breastfeed avoid lost days at work. Finally, mothers may find breastfeeding convenient, since they avoid the preparation and expense that formula feeding requires.
According to Gale Pryor, author of Nursing Mother, Working Mother, two benefits of breastfeeding—particularly for working mothers—are that it helps maintain the mother-infant connection and helps boost a mom's confidence. A woman's confidence in herself as a mother and the bond with her infant may be vulnerable when she is separated from her infant for long periods of time.
While there are many ways to maintain the connection between mother and infant, breastfeeding ensures that the baby remains top priority, no matter what other pressures arise. It also increases a woman's confidence as a mother, since it serves as a tangible reminder that she is irreplaceable to the child. Given these benefits, why do some women stop breastfeeding when they return to work?
Last reviewedDecember 2011by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.