Breastfeeding After Maternity Leave: My Story (1)

Blog Hop & Grand Prize

Thanks for hopping over from Mummies Waiting and welcome to my post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt.
Day 4:Β Working and Breastfeeding sponsors today include Feed Me Mummy with a black and white vest combo, Thrupenny Bits who are offering a cute cord in blue breastfeeding cushion, and Kids Bee Happy who are offering a choice of sand art picture for our Grand Prize winner.
Over Β£700 worth of goodies are up for grabs; entries via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Full details of the Grand Prize can be found here.


My Giveaways and Discount Code

MAM Baby UK , MulitMam, and BreastVest are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week 2015 with you and I today, and supporting my Keep Britain Scavenger Hunt Day 3 post with the following fab giveaways and discounts:
Breastvest | MAM Breastfeeding and Steriliser Set | MAM Breastfeeding Pads | a MultiMam New Mum Pack and Loyon | 50% discount on a MultiMam New Mum Pack and MultiMam balm with the code ‘aNoviceMum’

Breastfeeding after maternity leave

The idea of continuing with breastfeeding when I returned to work was highlighted to me by a leaflet I stumbled upon at the maternity ward before I was discharged. I hadn’t thought that far yet and didn’t think about it again until when I had to write a letter to give notice of my return from maternity leave.

Preparing to return to work

If I remember correctly, you need to give your employer 8 weeks notice if you plan to return to work before the ending of your maternity leave. As a teacher, it made sense for me to return at the start of the academic year; in which case, I thought I might as well return at the end of the Summer term. This way, I could slowly start getting my head around juggling motherhood and work.

In my letter, I informed my employer that I planned to return as a breastfeeding mother, as I had read in the NHS breastfeeding and work leaflet.

BF after Mat LeaveI tried not to worry about the compatibility of my (my family and I) decision to return to work and breastfeeding. I spoke with a number of mums at my breastfeeding group about it, and they all assured me that my body will adjust accordingly. Indeed, I was surprised to learn from a mum that she didn’t even pump at work during the day and that her milk supply did not dwindle. Instead, her body adjusted to the needs of her child given their new situation.

Anything to do with milk supply gets my attention; I battled with this for a very long on my journey, due to lack of quality information at the onset of my breastfeeding relationship.

I was concerned about work threatening my breastfeeding relationship; I had worked so terribly hard to make breastfeeding work for us; lots of hope, prayers, reading, asking, and pumping. So I made sure I googled and read up on my legal entitlements. I found Maternity Action particularly helpful.

Return to Work Meeting

Armed with some information, I confidently went to my return to work meeting which I’d arranged over email. To my utter disappointment, I realised that the law wasn’t as clear-cut as I’d thought and that guidelines were subject to interpretation. My confidence and plan dissolved as the meeting went on.

The return to work deal I was offered felt discriminatory to me as a breastfeeding mum and the whole situation was stressful. I was shocked to find out that my right to request for flexible hours to accommodate my breastfeeding needs, did not entitle me to return to the same working terms and conditions after 6 months of maternity leave! Boy, did I wish I knew that before the meeting? O yes! It would have helped me moderate my expectation, and also minimized my disappointment.

The onsetting STRESS was a massive RED ALERT to me. I’d drilled it into my head that STRESS affects MILK SUPPLY. I’m way too traumatised by low milk supply to willingly walk into and stay in a stress causing situation … no way, hosay!

So, I walked away … I withdrew my request to return to work and continued with my maternity leave.I felt this would give me more time with my baby. Also, he would be older and hopefully better able to cope with my absence by the time I had to return.

The financial cost of not returning, a motivation to return earlier, didn’t seem so bad afterall.

I felt hurt, deflated, and let down. I felt that all that I had given to work (many unpaid hours) over the years counted for little with my employer … it sure didn’t inspire them to go out of their way for me when I could have really done with it. Understanding why they couldn’t didn’t change how I felt.

Being a mum had already changed my outlook on work, but this further reduced the heart I had for my workplace forever. No way, would I give as much as I have before. No way, would I consider the needs of work above mine in the way that I had done before. From then on, more than ever before, and indeed rightfully so, my family and I come way ahead of work’s needs.

I tried not to worry about the difficulties of returning after the academic year had started. I had to keep STRESS away.

Return to work

I finally returned a few weeks before my maternity leave ended, so that I could begin at the start of a new term. Management was different, and my return to work discussion went better. I understood the greys in the law better, and though I remain annoyed about it, I’ve moderated my expectations to it. I felt that my new headteacher was also more supportive and understanding, and thinking he was on my side helped me.

I was the first to request to return to work as a breastfeeding mum and my workplace just hadn’t given much thought to what its policy on this is.

In the end, I didn’t feel I could rely on the rest facilities they planned to sort out for me as a breastfeeding mum. Rightfully so too; it hadn’t been sorted the last time I was at work.

Thankfully, I’m very fortunate to work very close to home, and even more, that Precious Sparkle is cared for at home whilst I’m at work.

So, I planned to use my lunch times to go home and breastfeed. In addition to this, I went to work about an hour later than I used to go and left earlier than I used to leave. I was still on time for work.

It was very important to me that the school didn’t do me any favours.

I’ve chosen to continue breastfeeding my toddler whilst working full-time, and I’ll make this work for both of us within what I’m allowed.

I think I’ll have to continue my story in another post, to avoid this one being way too long. Thanks so much for reading, please share if you enjoyed it.

Can you relate with my agony?

For more tips on how to dress to impress please hop on over toΒ Odd Socks and Lollipops where you can gain further entries into the grand prize draw.
Remember you need to earn 50 points to be eligible, full details can be found on the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Site. UK residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

KBBFkbbf2 width=

The following two tabs change content below.


Founder | Writer I Editor I Manager
First-time Mum / Freelance Writer / Thinker / Educator / Business graduate / Improving Photographer / so much more. \\ Recording my mu-m-sings from the South East of England | Sharing lessons from my life's journey to encourage and inspire | Filled with gratitude for my faith, family, and friends.

52 thoughts on “Breastfeeding After Maternity Leave: My Story (1)

  1. I haven’t had the experience of feeding and working as I only managed 2 weeks with my first xx

  2. i haven’t worked and been breast feeding at the same time ive always had the luxury of having time off work and my partner being there but on occasion i used a breast pump to extract my milk when i went back to work but i can definitely imagine it would be an issue if that had been the case.

    • Yeah, such a shame that breastfeeding and work doesn’t work as well as it should. Let’s hope that the focus on this, during this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, makes a difference. So lovely that you’ve had your partner’s support on your journey.

  3. I stopped last time as I was off for a year; this time I am hoping to continue my feeding in the eves/morns, as I go back soon πŸ™‚

  4. I’m going back to work in 8 weeks and planning on carrying on feeding my son who will then be 13 months but I am starting to worry about how it will all work! I’m undecided about whether not to express whilst at work or hope (as I’ve also been assured!) that my supply will adjust. I’ve contacted my employer and they have said that they will provide a room and fridge but I’m worried that it will be in a different building to my office and that I will then have to request extra breaks to express. I haven’t discussed it with my manager yet and although she may be happy with it I think some of my colleagues wouldn’t be and would see it as favouritism and I would’t be particularly happy about it either. It’s making me a bit nervous not knowing but they can only tell me what space they will have the week before. Also the thought of the room being in a rather public building and everyone being able to hear the breastpump…. I will have to leave the house at 7am and not be home until 5.30pm so that just feels like a long time to go without expressing though. Everything I’ve read says that it should be fine to just feed him before and after work but as I haven’t left him for more than an hour since he was born the thought of going so long seems odd. Sorry for writing so much, reading this just made me realise that it’s not that far away now and I’ll soon need to figure out what to do! I don’t think we’re ready to stop breastfeeding just yet though πŸ™‚

    • It’s trial and error, I think. Such a difficult one, but it doesn’t have to be.

      You could plan to express and then see whether you can hold out through the day withought expressing. Your body will adjust but its one to play by ear, I find.

      It’s definitely worth arranging a meeting with you manager to express your concerns and find out more detail about what will be provided to support you. As for your colleagues, better not to second guess their thoughts. Your legal protection is there for a reason, it’s definitely not favouritism. Check out this joint NCT study about how much breastfeeding saves / can save the NHS; you are doing something with environmental and financial savings for society: very good for the tax payers – NO GUILT IN THAT!

      I wonder if it might help using some of your KIT days to experiment with what might work best for you.

      Don’t apologise for writing; it’s been lovely reading from you. I really hope you find something that works. You definitely don’t have to stop breastfeeding because maternity leave is over.

      Let me know how you get on and if you have any questions that I might be able to help you with. πŸ™‚

  5. The rules really aren’t clear on returning to work as a BF mother. I intended to be a BF working Mum but Jess self weaned a week before I went back (turns out I was pregnant again and my milk tasted different). I didn’t manage to BF my second as she was tongue tied so I won’t face these issues. You have my empathy though.
    Tori Gabriel recently posted…The Mummy SchoolMy Profile

    • I so wish the law was a lot more black and white really; much better for employers and employees. I’ve heard about the whole milk thing tasting different. Tongue-tie hey, it’s put an end to many mums breastfeeding journeys. Hope more and more trusts will provide better service to deal with them. Thanks for dropping by.

  6. I didn’t go back to work, so I’ve always been able to feed on demand. I now run a natural parenting group & sling library from home, and my four year old still nurses.

  7. It’s so awful isn’t it when you pour your heart and soul into a work place only for things to be unappreciated.
    I can totally sympathise with this as my employer did the bare minimum and even that was at a push, and I only returned part time (though long days) for three months before deciding that I would rather spend the time with my daughter. We returned to on demand feeding and are still going now =)
    Jenni – Odd Socks and Lollipops recently posted…A Walk in the WoodsMy Profile

    • So lovely that you can stay home full time; I’m probably moving towards this.

      My employers are accomodating in many ways, the issue in my case was about the interpretation of the law and the forming / managing of expectations. That’s why I want to learn / understand more about the breastfeeding mum’s place in the law and share with other women. There definitely needs to be more good practice amongst employers and the law could do more by being more specific for both employers and employees, about the minimum expectations instead of all the recommendations.

      If breastfeeding mums are to stay in the workplace after maternity leave, the law needs to support their return to work better.

  8. I haven’t any experiences with working and feeding but am hoping next year I will have πŸ™‚

  9. I’m so sorry to hear how your first meeting went. I can imagine how stressful it must have been. I hope my employer are more accommodating but they weren’t helpful with maternity so I doubt it. Glad it all worked out in the end anyway πŸ™‚

    • I’m glad it worked out the end too. Hopefully the government will do more to have clearer laws and support for companies, so that working breastfeeding mums can have a better time with sorting out breastfeeding after maternity leave.

      All the best with yours.

  10. I never had this issue as I didn’t return to work until my babies were much older but glad it worked out for you x

  11. I’m so sorry to hear your employer wasn’t very supportive when you originally wanted to return to work. I imagine it to be quite stressfull when you decide you’re returning early without them being so unsupportive.
    I’m hoping by the time I return to work, in april 2016, my wee boy won’t be needing anything until nighttime so at least I won’t have to worry about finding somewhere to express while at work.
    It’s such a stressful thing leaving your baby when you’ve been with them constantly since birth – I admire your courage for considering going back early!

    • Thanks for your lovely comment. It’s not that they were supportive but more that I wasn’t as prepared for that meeting as I should have been; I didn’t know what to definitely expect. In the end, my emotions were too raw to move forward, I felt too strongly against a tiny aspect of what I had been offered (not a bad offer too); and it all just got too much. Lots of lessons learned, on how to do it differently next time.

      Not having to think of keeping breastfeeding going during work time is definitely fab and I hope that it all works out better than expected. Yeah, leaving your baby to go to work, as maternity leave is HARD!

  12. Thanks for sharing your story. This advice is very useful for others in this situation

  13. Unfortunatly I only breastfed until 6 months so my daughter was weaned by the time I had to go back to work this would be perfect as I plan on BF my next child for at least a year if possible

  14. I am going back to work after having my baby and I am hoping to continue breastfeeding

  15. I found it very upsetting and stressful that i could not breast feed last time and feel i did not have the support either. This time though i am so determined to do it. πŸ™‚

  16. I haven’t thought as far ahead either, to be honest I haven’t even thought as far ahead as breastfeeding as I have never done it before but with BabaBumpNo3 (and last) I have less than 7 weeks to get my information together. So considering this – NO WAY have I thought about what will happen when I return to work after Maternity Leave – which will be a little earlier than I would have liked as due to the size of my bump I had to leave at 31 weeks!!!! Hopefully things will all come together in the end for me and as with you, with you being the first to request to return to work as a breastfeeding mum maybe this will set the path for other Mum’s in your workplace who intend on doing the same when their time comes – well done, you have ‘fought’ for all mothers in your situation in your Job πŸ™‚

    • There’ so much to think about, with becoming a mum and I’m sure with becoming a mum the 3rd time! All the best as you prioritise what you need to focus on. Congratulations and I’m sure it’ll all come together in the end; it tends to, doesn’t it πŸ™‚
      Thanks for your encouraging words. I hope society as a whole will do right by breastfeeding mums, more and more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge