Breastfeeding & Work: Let’s make it work!

Me whakamahi tātou i ēnei kaupapa.

Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Initiative

Many women are returning to work after the birth of their baby and wish to continue to breastfeed. Combining work and breastfeeding is made possible with a good plan and support from your workplace and family/whanau.

[Supporting working women to breastfeed is] a win-win situation that builds loyal employees, gives babies the best source of nourishment available and benefits society as a whole. (Flavia Bustreo WHO)

The Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy Service facilitates the Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Initiative. This service provides support to businesses to plan how they can support both new and returning employees with breastfeeding and how they can become recognised as a breastfeeding friendly workplace. The service also provides support to women who are wishing to continue breastfeeding and working. The Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy Service has a number of resources for businesses and women providing information and support for breastfeeding and work.

Benefits for Business/ workplace

There are many benefits for businesses who support their employees to continue to breastfeed while working. Some of these are listed below:

  • SAVE money and time by retaining skilled and experienced staff

  • SAVE money by reducing the need to recruit replacement staff

  • SAVE money by breastfeeding employees using fewer sick days on account of improved child health

  • INCREASE productivity with well supported, happy staff

  • GAIN breastfeeding friendly workplace status and promotion by:

    • being listed as a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace on our website and other publications
    • being eligible to apply for relevant business awards
  • PROMOTE company image as a good employer

  • MEET legislative requirements to support breastfeeding women

For Women and family/whanau

Continuing to breastfeed while you are working will provide many benefits for you and your baby. There are amazing health benefits for both of you and the specific irreplaceable immune factors in breastmilk will help to keep your baby’s immune system strong.

Breastfeeding will also support the bond you have with your baby when you are not together and will provide comfort, connection and security.

“Breastfeeding really helps with fighting all those nasty buggies they pick-up from daycare” (Maggie, 2016)


Plan ahead

Make it easier to continue breastfeeding:

  • Consider when you might want to return to work
  • Consider what you might need to successfully combine breastfeeding and working
  • Talk with your family/whanau about how they can support you
  • Think about the different ways that woman have successfully combined breastfeeding and work
  • Can I…?
    • Work from home?
    • Work part time or flexible hours?
    • Bring my baby to work with me?
    • Have someone bring baby to my workplace to breastfeed?
    • Have baby cared for close by so I can go and breastfeed?
    • Express breastmilk at work and safely store it?

Meet with your employer

“I knew that I personally preferred to have my child close to my place of work to make feeding that much more accessible for us” (Maggie, 2016)

Both in pregnancy and then again about a month before you are due to start back at work. Bring a support person if needed and our breastfeeding and working advocate is also available if necessary.

Inform your employer that you want to continue breastfeeding when you return to work and will need their support.

Topics to discuss:

  • Is our workplace breastfeeding friendly?
  • Have they joined the Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Initiative?
  • Are my colleagues aware of the importance of breastfeeding?
  • Regular breaks needed to express breastmilk (e.g. 2 x 20 minute breaks)
  • Can a comfortable private space with a power source be created for expressing and/or feeding my baby? (Not a toilet, bathroom or closet)
  • Is there a fridge I can store breastmilk in?
  • Is there a sink I can clean my equipment in?
  • Can I bring my baby to work and/or work flexible hours while baby and I adjust to separation?

Gain support from your family/whanau and friends.

Combining breastfeeding/mothering and work can be a challenge that needs some careful thought and pre planning to ensure it is successful and enjoyable for everyone.

The support that family/whanau can give will help a mother to continue to breastfeed while working which has many benefits for everyone’s health and wellbeing.

Some of the ways that support can be given are:

  • Some time before mum starts work talk together as a family/whanau to consider the options and work out how your family/whanau can make this work.
  • Recognise that there will be adjustment time for everybody when mum returns to work.
  • Think of ways that family/whanau and friends can help such as:
    • looking after baby while mum is at work
    • taking baby to mum at work to breastfeed
    • dropping and picking up baby from childcare
    • taking care of the household jobs such as cleaning, cooking and shopping so mum can spend time with baby

For more information about how to support a breastfeeding mum check out the section Family & whānau: Good things to know.

Allow for time to adjust

So you and your baby can get used to being separated when you return to work. While you and baby are adjusting try to spend as much time as possible with baby when you are not at work. With support from others this is a good time to respond freely to your and baby’s breastfeeding needs which will also help you both to adjust to the change.

“When I’m home with her on the weekend, we feed on-demand and she does feed much more often…” (Maggie, 2016)

Because breastfeeding is much more than food and nutrition baby may request more feeds than usual as he/she makes up for the missed breastfeeding times when you were at work.

This is termed ‘reverse cycling’ and is a normal part of the adjustment period. If a baby can be supported to feed more when you are together then he/she may not need as much expressed breastmilk from the caregiver when you are at work.

There may be other challenges that come up along the way as your and baby needs change.

If you feel that you need more information or simply want to talk through any issues please make contact with Kelly at the Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy Service.

New Zealand Legislation that supports breastfeeding and working

Employers’ Guidelines for the prevention of pregnancy discrimination.

Human Rights Commission


Your rights as a breastfeeding mother.

Human Rights Commission


Breastfeeding in the workplace: A guide for Employers

Employment NZ


Code of Employment Practice on Infant Feeding

Employment NZ

Breastfeeding in the Workplace

Employment NZ


Breaks and Infant Feeding

Employment Relations Amendment Act 2008


Women’s Stories of combining breastfeeding and working

Breastfeeding Friendly Workplaces

La Leche League

Breastfeeding Friendly Workplaces

Eastgate Shopping Centre acknowledged as Breastfeeding-Friendly.

The Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy Service is super-excited to announce that Eastgate Shopping Centre has just been certified as being a Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace.

Breastfeeding provides a number of well-evidenced health benefits both to breastfeeding women and to their babies.  Women report that returning to the paid workforce is a common reason for breastfeeding journeys to end.  The Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace Initiative is a project managed by the Canterbury Breastfeeding Network to support employers to ensure that barriers to continued breastfeeding are removed from their work setting.  Thus Eastgate Shopping Centre has written a policy and made some changes to ensure that staff are able to breastfeed in an appropriate environment or to express and store breastmilk in appropriate places, during their working day.

As a workplace with a large number of customers and tenanting a large number of other workplaces, Eastgate Shopping Centre has taken their breastfeeding support even further by ensuring that customers also feel welcome to breastfeed.  Customers can breastfeed in any of the public spaces of the centre or can use the family room which has private cubicles with seating and also power sockets for breast pumps.  Eastgate Shopping Centre has announced their breastfeeding-friendly status to each of their tenants and will support any of them to individually undertake the process of becoming Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplaces for their own staff should they choose to.  The Loft (a purpose-built space that is home to a broad range of social and community services that is housed in the shopping centre) became Breastfeeding-Friendly certified earlier in the year.

Congratulations to Eastgate Shopping Centre for committing to remove barriers to whānau ora (family health).

Website: https://eastgate.co.nz/


Congratulations to The Loft for committing to the important mahi of removing barriers to breastfeeding in our communities. And particular thanks to Libby, Carol  and Kate for their efforts in making the collaboration between The Loft and the Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy Service such a rewarding one.

The Loft is a community of agencies with the collective purpose  “to enhance outcomes for children, young people, families and communities by achieving the optimum added value that co-located community wellbeing services has to offer.” It offers a new way for the people of Canterbury to access a wide range of health and wellbeing services that is located on the first floor of the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Christchurch’s Eastern suburbs.  http://www.theloftchristchurch.org.nz/About-Us/

As an organisation that supports the safety and overall wellbeing of children, young people and their families, we saw The Loft as being a great candidate for becoming a Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace.

As a community that houses a number of services, we thought there may be some challenges in getting all services and staff on board.  However, what we found was a very committed and excited workforce who were ready and willing to implement whatever it took to become breastfeeding friendly.

The Loft now has a shared policy for ensuring that any staff member wanting to breastfeed will be supported and offered the appropriate space and time to do this.  It also means that any manuhiri or visitors will be supported in their breastfeeding journey.

Website: http://www.theloftchristchurch.org.nz/


The Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy Service recently awarded University of Canterbury (UC) Breastfeeding-Friendly status.  This means that as an employer, UC supports workers to continue breastfeeding  once they have returned to work by having policies in place that ensure spaces and time will be made available in the working environment to breastfeed and/or express breastmilk for their infants.  CONGRATULATIONS UC!

Congratulations to St George’s Hospital on becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace

 The Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy Service congratulates St George’s Hospital who have become a breastfeeding friendly workplace. St George’s Hospital is committed to providing support for staff planning to combine breastfeeding with their working lives. Breastfeeding supportive businesses and health organisations are more likely to retain their valuable and experienced staff, and enabling working women to breastfeed is a win-win situation that builds loyal employees, as well as supporting infant and mother health and wellbeing. St George’s Hospital has a breastfeeding policy, resources for staff information, a comfortable and private space for women to breastfeed or express breast milk, and a fridge for breast milk storage.  Breastfeeding women visiting the hospital are also welcome to breastfeed in the facility. World Breastfeeding Week #WBW2017, which is coordinated worldwide by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) calls on everyone to work together in partnership to support breastfeeding women. St George’s Hospital is a great example of how this partnership can work in a health care environment.

Photo – Paul Lovett (midwife) Alison Klopper (HR St George’s), Andrea Robinson, (Maternity Manager), Rachel McLachlan (Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy Service – Te Puawaitanga ki Ōtautahi Trust)

St George’s Hospital website – here

Anderson Lloyd, a leading New Zealand law firm is now a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace

The Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy Service congratulates Anderson Lloyd, Christchurch, who have become the first New Zealand law firm to become a breastfeeding friendly workplace, and this happened just in time for World Breastfeeding Week 2017. Anderson Lloyd is committed to providing support for staff planning to combine breastfeeding with their working lives. Breastfeeding supportive businesses are more likely to retain their valuable and experienced staff, and enabling working women to breastfeed is a win-win situation that builds loyal employees, as well as supporting infant and mother health and wellbeing. Anderson Lloyd has a breastfeeding policy, resources for staff information, a comfortable and private room for women to breastfeed or express breast milk, and a fridge for breast milk storage.  World Breastfeeding Week #WBW2017, which is coordinated worldwide by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) calls on everyone to work together in partnership to support breastfeeding women. Anderson Lloyd is a great example of how this partnership can work.

Photo – Richard Greenaway (CEO Anderson Lloyd), Shanti Niven (Senior Solicitor) and Rachel McLachlan (Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy Service, Te Puawaitanga ki Ōtautahi Trust)

Anderson Lloyd’s webpage – here

Te Puawaitanga ki Ōtautahi Trust is the first Canterbury organisation to receive the breastfeeding friendly workplace initiative (BFWI) award


Te Puawaitanga has a breastfeeding policy that protects, promotes and supports breastfeeding, and also a lactation and infant feeding breaks policy. Te Puawaitanga is a kaupapa Māori provider of a range of health, education and social services that promote the health education, culture, history and wellbeing of Māori women and their whānau. The aim is to reduce barriers which may affect whānau ability to access health care or services which may aid their well-being, and this includes reducing or eliminating barriers to breastfeeding.

Website – http://whanauoraservices.co.nz/

Photo – Aroha Reriti-Crofts (Ngāi Tahu)CBE, JP, Taua and board member, Alison Bourn, General Manager, and Health Promoter and BFWI Facilitator Rachel McLachlan.


The New Zealand Breastfeeding Alliance becomes a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace

Carol Bartle, Health Promoter, Canterbury Breastfeeding Advocacy Service, presents a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace certificate to Julie Stufkens, Executive Officer, New Zealand Breastfeeding Alliance (NZBA).  NZBA works to promote, protect and support breastfeeding in New Zealand by managing the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) and the Baby Friendly Community Initiative (BFCI). (Photo – Dianne Powley, Learning & Development Facilitator, Carol Bartle, Julie Stufkens and Carmen Timu-Parata, BFHI Coordinator & Māori Advisor.BFWI_NZBA_SEPTEMBER2016

Webpage – https://www.babyfriendly.org.nz/