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Work and breastfeeding – how do you cope?

The WHO recommends that mothers breastfeed their babies for six months. This presents working mothers with the problem of how to reconcile their return to work with the need for breastfeeding. Our step-by-step advice can help.

Breastfeeding for six months offers mothers and children numerous advantages. However, many working women switch their babies to supplementary food at the end of the 14-week maternity leave period so that nothing stands in the way of them returning to work. But this doesn't have to be the case, because the law states that employers must allow mothers the time they need during working hours to breastfeed or pump milk. So, with the right preparation and some support, breastfeeding can easily be integrated into day-to-day work routines. The following tips can help with the preparations:

Before maternity leave
  • Inform your employer and colleagues that you intend to breastfeed or pump at work.
  • Arrange when you will return to work and the days on which you will work.
  • Find out whether you have a nursing room and/or a refrigerator for storing milk at your workplace.
1-4 weeks before returning to work
  • Pump off enough milk and freeze it in portions; it will keep for about six months.
  • Drop into your workplace with your baby and introduce it to your colleagues. Favourable dates for doing this are best arranged with your manager.
  • Clarify who will be looking after the baby in your absence and introduce your baby to the caregiver.
  • Make sure you have everything you need for breastfeeding or pumping (nursing pads, breast pump, bottles, cool bag and transport bag).
On the first day back at work:
  • Get up early so that you have plenty of time to breastfeed your child before you leave.
  • In addition to the things you need for breastfeeding or pumping, pack enough breastfeeding pads and a cloth nappy to protect your clothing. It can also make sense to pack a spare blouse.
  • When pumping or breastfeeding at work, try to maintain your usual breastfeeding rhythm in order to maintain milk production.
  • If someone is going to bring the baby to you for breastfeeding, your baby will first have to get used to the unfamiliar surroundings and breastfeeding may not work right away. Pumped reserve milk can then be used to satisfy the baby’s hunger. A lot of time and patience are needed here, but it should be possible nevertheless to reconcile breastfeeding with your company’s operational needs.
  • If pumping doesn’t work straight away, try looking at a picture of your child or smell a piece of its clothing or a stuffed toy that you have brought along.
Any other questions? The doctors and medical specialists at sante24 are available around the clock to provide free information and expert advice to SWICA customers and to answer questions about breastfeeding and being a new mother. Tel. +41 (0)44 404 86 86

SWICA supports the Breastfeeding Campaign 2018, which runs in German-speaking Switzerland from the end of April until July. For more information, visit: