Know your rights!

  • As a breastfeeding mother, you have the right to breastfeed in any public area. No one should prevent you from breastfeeding, ask you to ‘cover up’, disturb you, or ask you to move to an area that is more ‘discreet’. You have the right to breastfeed anytime, anywhere. Service providers must be free from discrimination including workplaces, schools,  restaurants, cafes, stores, malls, parks, public transit etc.
  • A woman who is breastfeeding and returning to work or school has the right under the Ontario Human Rights Commission to be accommodated so that she can continue to breastfeed her child. For more information about your rights visit our Breastfeeding and the Law page.

Continued Breastfeeding

  • Mothers and babies both benefit from ongoing breastfeeding.
  • With the right preparation and discussion, you will be able to continue to provide your child with breastmilk after your return to work or school.
  • Your work or school schedule and the age of your child will influence your pumping and / or breastfeeding routine.
  • Continuing to breastfeed your child beyond their first birthday will help keep them healthy.

Things to consider:

  • Talk to your employer or student advisor before returning to work or school. Connecting in advance allows you the best chance to meet your breastfeeding goals.
  • Are there options at your place of work, such as going back part-time or working from home?
  • Will you be using a pump or can you have your child brought to you for feedings?
  • Can you choose a daycare close to work or school, so you can visit your child in order to breastfeed?
  • Where can you breastfeed or pump milk in a safe, clean, private space other than a washroom?
  • Where can you store your breastmilk?

Maximizing your milk supply

There are a few ways to express breastmilk and research has shown that combining pumping and breast massage increases milk production. This technique is very effective in the early days and weeks if continued throughout your maternity leave, can help increase your success of pumping when you return to work or school.  To watch a helpful video click here.  Although this video shows preterm babies in the hospital, the techniques of using a combination of hand expression, massaging and pumping can be used no matter how old your baby is.

  • Wear a bra or top that will hold the flanges in place while pumping and massaging.
  • Start with slow massage to stimulate letdown.
  • Apply the breast pump and use the maximum suction level that is comfortable and not painful.
  • Watch the sprays of milk and adjust hand position to where milk flows the most easily.
  • When the sprays of milk lessen, switch to single pumping so you can be more vigorous with the massage.
  • When the sprays of milk lessen again, turn off the pump and hand express into the flange.

Choosing a Breast Pump for your return

Returning to work or school:


Single electric

Double electric


Before 6 weeks (part-time or full-time)



After 6 weeks part-time and breastfeeding is well established





After 6 weeks full-time and breastfeeding is well established




After a year (part-time or full-time)





Pumping Tips

  • Use only as much suction needed to maintain your milk flow.
  • Suction should come and go to copy your child’s sucking.
  • Give yourself enough time to not feel rushed.
  • Massage your breasts during pumping.
  • Keep a drink and snack nearby for yourself.
  • Have a photo of your child close to you or think about your child.
  • You can stop pumping when the milk flow is minimal or has stopped.
  • Ensure the pump flange is a good fit.
  • After each pumping session: either place the pumping kit (not the tubes or motor) in the refrigerator until the next pumping session, or if not pumping the same day – hot-water wash and hot-water rinse, then let pieces air dry.

For more information and support, call the Parent Talk Line (905-688-8248 x 7555) to talk with a nurse about adjusting your feeding routine and your options regarding expressing breastmilk.

 Safe Storage of Breastmilk  

Click here

Preparing to Return to work or school

  • Try to return to work or school gradually.
  • Wear clothing that will make expressing easier.
  • Nurse your child before you leave and when you get home.
  • If you work or are in school eight hours or more per day, you may need to express milk at least two to three times per day (depending on the age of your child).
  • If your workplace or school does not have a fridge, bring a cooler with ice packs with you for safe storage.
  • Talk to your child’s caregiver about how to safely handle your expressed breastmilk.
  • Talk to your family and work team about your wishes to continue to breastfeed, so you can get support from them and from health care professionals.

Managing Leaking 

   Leaking is often short term, while your body adjusts to a new schedule. When it happens, apply direct pressure by crossing your arms and placing the heel of your hands over the nipple area.

  • Wear cotton nursing pads without a waterproof lining to protect clothing.
  • Have an extra jacket or sweater with you as a cover-up if needed.

Other Resources:

Parent Talk Line 905-688-8248/1-888-505-6074 Ext. 7555.

Best Start resource Returning to Work after Baby has information on: 

  • Exploring your options
  • Choosing Child Care
  • Managing your time
  • Establishing a Routine
  • Helping your child adjust
  • Taking Care of yourself
  • Planning a Budget 

La Leche League: search: returning to work

Dr. Jack Newman: What to feed the baby when the mother is working outside the home.