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Q.    My baby is 3 weeks old, and I have been fully breastfeeding her since birth, except for one formula in the night.  How can I continue to fully breastfeed her after I return to work at 2 Months?

A.    You have been doing very well!  Your baby is very fortunate to have such a committed Mum!  With your strong desire to fully breastfeed, you should be able to work out a schedule to express milk.  What is important is to ensure that you build up a strong milk supply by the time you return to work.  If you can express about 3 times at work - say, at mid-morning, lunch, and mid-afternoon, you would be able to produce and maintain a very good supply.  Right now, you are giving your baby one bottle of formula at night.  If you can collect leftover milk during the day to let her have expressed breastmilk (EBM) instead, your supply will be better.  We usually advise mothers to let their babies have 1 feed a day of EBM from the 4th week onwards, if their baby has settled down well to direct breastfeeding.  This is to help the baby accept the bottle.  In your case, the baby is already familiar with the bottle.

Upon returning to work, reserve the last 1/2 hour before you leave the house to breastfeed your baby.  If she is fast asleep, use that time to express your milk and leave it for her.  At work, you need a clean, private place to express your milk.  By 2 months, your milk flow should be very good, and 10-15minutes should be sufficient to complete an expression.  You need to figure out a way to sterilize your pump if you are expressing more than once.  One convenient way is to use sterilizing tablets in a plastic box.  Make up the solution one lunch time, and it is good for 24 hours until the next day's lunch hour.  It can also be tucked neatly under your table.

You can also bring a few pre-sterilized bottles from home.  Collect your milk in feed-sized amounts.  If you need 120ml per feed, and you ahve expressed 150ml, put the extra into another bottle to collect for another feed.

EBM can be carried home chilled or frozen.  Chilled milk can be transported in a cooler box packed with ice, or pre-frozen ice packs.  For short journey, an insulated styrofoam bottle carrier, or wrapping in layers of newspaper may work as well.  If frozen milk is transported, ensure that it remains fully forzen by the time you reach home.  Frozen milk even if slightly thawed, should not be re-frozen.  If your frozen milk is slightly thawed, leave it in the refrigerator to thaw completely to use the next day.

If you carry chilled milk home, you may still decide to freeze it, provided you do so within 24 hours of expression.  Minimize the transport of EBM.  If your child is with a baby-sitter  during the day, take the EBM straight to the baby-sitter's house after work, to be used the next day.  Freeze the milk if you will not use it the next day.

Date & time each bottle collected, so that the milk expressed the earliest can be used first.  Leave instructions not to have your baby fed near the time of your return, because you will want to feed her yourself.  If you can only express EBM once or twice while you are at work, your baby will still get some feeds of EBM while you are at work but it may not be enough to fully breastfeed.  With some thought and forward planning, you should be able to work out a feeding/ expressing schedule that will enable you to carry on feeding for many months.


Mother's Experiences:

3 Mothers tell how they handled breastfeeding after returning to work.

Karen Wong
(She has 3 children aged 7years, 4 years and 3years.  She was working as a Bank Officer when her 1st child was born and later as a Marketing Executive with the Singapore Zoological Gardens.  She quit this job when her 2nd child was born.)

I breastfed my first son for 1 year, and returned to work when he was 3 months.  For 3 months, until he was 6 months, I expressed at work and brought EBM home.  I just expressed as much as I could.  The first month I expressed 3 times a day.  The second month, I expressed twice a day, and the third month, once a day.

I used disposable Gerber milk bags to store my milk.  Each actually holds up to 8oz, but if more than 6oz is put in it, it gets difficult to tie up.  I stored these chilled in the regular compartments, not frozen.  I brought my milk bags home in a food flask, with some ice cubes below and some on top.  Colleagues thought I was bringing my lunch, at first!

The first day I expressed in the toilet.  After that, I ran around looking for an empty room, and usually managed to find one.  Don't expect to keep your activity a secret - and be prepared for some initial teasing, but your colleagues will be educated by and by.

Tang Lai Mui

I breastfed my first son, now 4-1/2 years, until he was 16-1/2 months, and my 2nd son, now 2years, until he was 20-1/2 months.

I returned to work as an ofice attendant when they were 2 months.  My first baby was given all EBM after 2 months.  I expressed 4 bottles at work, and 3 at home, each expression taking 10-15minutes with the Kaneson pump.  When he was 7-8 months, I expressed twice at work.

I carried my bottles home in those styrofoam bottle containers, on a 45minute journey.  My milk was chilled, not frozen.

For my second baby, I expressed only at work, and direct-fed at home because I enjoyed the contact with my baby.

(Lai Mui is a special inspiration as both she and her husband are partially visually impaired.  Asked if she was ever worried that her EBM might have gone bad int he process of transportation, this experienced and practical mother replied,  "If the milk's no good, my baby won't drink it;  so I don't worry about that.")

Lee Chong Hoon:

For my first daughter, now 3-1/2 years old, I managed to express 3 times fro her after returning to work, until she was 4 months.  My 2nd daughter is now 3-1/2 months, and I am still expressing 3 times at work for her, keeping my milk chilled in the refrigerator.  I can go home at lunch time, home being only 5mins away, and I take my morning expression home in a food flask.  The EBM I collect in the afternoon, I take home in a cooler bag with a pre-frozen Coleman ice pack.

(Chong Hoon used to work in a male-dominated environment.  She now has more lady colleagues, but many are unmarried, and curious about her milk expression.  She takes her milk collection at work all in her stride, as part of her mothering, without very much second thought.)

Mothers who make the choice to express at work for their babies are really doing something special for their babies.  To maintain a good supply, it is important for such mothers to fully breastfeed for the first 6 - 8 weeks, using one feed of EBM a day from the fourth week onwards to help the baby adjust to the bottle.



To learn more about how to manage breastfeeding on return to work, do come to our workshops.  Call 3393558 for more details.


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