Returning to work
NUH wants to support you as much as possible when you return to work, whatever feeding journey you have been on. The saying ‘Happy Mum, Happy Baby’ really is true, and we want you to feel your best when returning to work.
We would encourage you to:
- Talk to your manager before you go on maternity leave to discuss your intention to feed. Even if the ‘plan’ changes a lot, it is really important to have opened up the conversation.
- Contact your manager before your KIT day or your return to work to let them know if you are feeding and whether you will need to express at work. Consider how many times you may need to pump and roughly what the timing may be.
- Prepare to express any equipment you may need at work. Milk must be labelled appropriately; NUH-approved labels are available.
How will NUH support you?
It's never too early to start thinking about how you're going to feed your baby. But you do not have to make up your mind until your baby is born. A 2021 survey at NUH reported that 44% of respondents would have continued breastfeeding if they had been given support to express this at work. We recognise that the support you are offered is very important within your feeding journey, and we want to support you as much as possible. There is lots of evidence supporting the benefits of breastfeeding a baby, including:
- Your breast milk meets all of your baby’s nutritional needs.
- Breast milk protects your baby from infections and diseases (reducing the risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections).
- Breastfeeding provides health benefits for you (reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and depression).
- Breastfeeding can build a strong emotional bond between you and your baby.
- Feeding beyond infancy: even though solid foods are generally introduced at around 6 months of age, the World Health Organisation recognises that breastmilk provides a critical source of energy and nutrients during illness to the age of 2 years and beyond.
We would encourage you to open the conversation around your employees intentions to feed before they go on maternity leave and again before their return to work. Parents who are well supported in their feeding journey have increased morale, productivity, and lower stress levels. If you are managing someone who is returning to work following maternity leave, please consider:
- Storage: breast milk can be stored in a trust-owned fridge (4 degrees or lower). Milk storage labels are available.
- A private, comfy, and hygienic room with an electric socket is essential; a toilet is never acceptable.
- Staff should not have to express during their lunch breaks but instead be given additional breaks that coincide with their feeding schedule. Flexible working hours may be suitable as part of a reasonable adjustment.
- It is everyone’s responsibility to create a safe and accepted culture to support staff wishing to feed at work.
- Please ensure the pregnancy risk assessment is repeated regularly while the employee is still breastfeeding.
- Further information can be found here: Accommodating breastfeeding employees in the workplace (acas.org.uk)
- How much expressed milk will my baby need? • KellyMom.com
- NUH Infant Feeding Clinic – available at QMC and City. Appointment-based system; referrals are made via your midwife.
- Expressing and storing breastmilk
- La Leche League GB: Friendly breastfeeding support from pregnancy onwards
- LLL Nottingham, West Bridgford, - La Leche League GB
- The UK's leading charity for parents | NCT