Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Breastfeeding or Expressing Milk in the Work Place

on February 16, 2015

La Leche League Leaders regularly receive calls from mothers regarding breastfeeding and returning to work.  Mothers sometimes report that employers act negatively toward their requests for time or a place to breastfeed or express milk.  Many mothers have been able to educate their employers about the human rights policies that cover pregnancy and breastfeeding.  In the Ontario Canada human rights code under “Employment and Duty to Accommodate“, it states that employers can provide a supportive environment for a breastfeeding employee by “providing a comfortable, dignified and appropriate area so that a woman can breastfeed, or express and store breast milk at work.”



Breastfeeding is healthy for both mother and baby, providing optimal nutrition, immune factors and mother infant interaction which help to protect the developing child both in the short and long term. Lack of breastfeeding is a risk factor in various diseases and evidence gathered by the Canadian Pediatric Society, the World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada continues to show that breastfeeding should be protected and supported.

Healthy breastfeeding families save employers money because lactation support in the workplace reduces absenteeism, sick leave and the need for training of replacement workers.  Breastfeeding mothers save provincial and Canadian funds in terms of health care spending during their child’s early years and over their own lifetimes.

The question of acceptable places to breastfeed a baby or express milk is complex because mothers themselves may have varying needs for privacy and also because the essence of human milk itself makes it resistant to bacterial growth and spoilage in various environments.  A private place where the woman feels safe and physically comfortable is needed for effective milk expression.  Of course she will need a chair.  At a minimum ,the most important things needed are a place for the woman to wash her hands properly and a clean surface on which to place her containers and pump.  This can be accommodated with either sanitary wipes or paper towels.  It is reasonable to expect the space to obtain at least the same cleaning routine as other workspaces or lunchroom spaces at the workplace.  If the employee will be breastfeeding her child at the workplace, the space needs to be arranged so that dangerous objects are not in reach of the nursing child.  Often very small changes to routines can create a space that meets the employee’s needs.

Breastfeeding the baby directly is more efficient and effective than expressing milk so an on-site or a nearby child care site would enable employees to breastfeed while on breaks or during lunch and is an advantageous option.

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La Leche League Canada has information on pumping, expressing and storing breastmilk.  Leaders are happy to provide information and support on managing milk supply to mothers anticipating separation from baby.


If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader.  In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally


If you have found this blog helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at so we can continue to help others breastfeed. 





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