Reconciling breastfeeding and returning to work: what are my rights?

Returning to work after maternity leave is a crucial transition period for many mothers. It can become even more complex for those who wish to continue breastfeeding their baby while returning to work. Fortunately, Switzerland has laws and regulations in place to protect women's rights in the workplace. In this article, we explore women's rights and how to ensure that their breastfeeding needs are respected.

Mother sitting on a bed with her suckling child

Maternity leave in Switzerland
In Switzerland, pregnant women are entitled to between 14 and 16 weeks' maternity leave, depending on the canton, which can be taken in the 8 weeks prior to the expected date of delivery and the following 6 weeks. During this period, women benefit from job protection and salary continuation. It is essential to prepare for the return to work, especially if breastfeeding is a priority.

Rights for women returning to work
Women returning to work after maternity leave in Switzerland have specific rights to facilitate breastfeeding at work. Here are some of these rights:

  • Breastfeeding during working hours: employers are required to allow mothers to take breaks to breastfeed or express milk. These breaks must not be deducted from working hours and must be paid.
  • Appropriate place for breastfeeding or expressing milk: employers must provide an appropriate and private space for women to breastfeed or express milk. This may be a rest room or a room dedicated to this purpose (toilets are not included...).
  • Flexible rules: women have the right to request more flexible working hours to better reconcile their work and their responsibility to breastfeed. Although employers are not obliged to accept them, they are encouraged to find suitable solutions.

Awareness and communication
It is important that women on maternity leave and their employers communicate openly and plan the return to work appropriately. Women need to inform their employers of their intention to breastfeed and discuss the necessary arrangements, such as breastfeeding breaks and the appropriate place to express milk. Employers, for their part, need to be understanding and ready to support their employees in this process.

In Switzerland, women returning to work after maternity leave have the right to breastfeed and express milk with complete peace of mind. Laws and regulations are designed to ensure that mothers can continue breastfeeding in the best possible way, while at the same time pursuing their professional careers. It is essential that women on maternity leave communicate with their employers and are aware of their rights in order to benefit from adequate support and a harmonious return-to-work experience.

Where can I turn for help and support?
A number of associations and organizations are dedicated to promoting breastfeeding and supporting mothers who wish to breastfeed. These associations play an essential role in providing valuable information, resources and support to pregnant women and new mothers. Here are some of the main Swiss breastfeeding associations:

Promotion breastfeeding Switzerland
This association aims to promote breastfeeding in Switzerland. It raises public awareness, works with health professionals and organizes campaigns to encourage breastfeeding. Their website also provides useful information for breastfeeding mothers.

Breastfeeding on the move with mamamap! Although breastfeeding in public is permitted everywhere, it is sometimes desirable to have a quiet, peaceful place. The mamamap app enables mothers to quickly and easily find the nearest breastfeeding area where they and their children are welcome. The app is provided free of charge by Promotion allaitement maternel Suisse.

Swiss League of La Leche League
La Leche League is an international organization that has been promoting breastfeeding for many years. In Switzerland, the Swiss League of La Leche League offers local support groups run by experienced volunteer mothers, valuable information on breastfeeding and personalized advice for mothers. They also organize monthly meetings for interested mothers.

MotherStories postpartum guide
Over the past few years, women have been revealing the true face of this very special period known as postpartum. Just as rich and complex as pregnancy (and with baby at the center of all our attention), the post-partum period is rightly often referred to as the 4th trimester, and yes, we can prepare ourselves to live through it more serenely, or at least consciously. 

In this guide co-created with the Centre périnatal | Sages-femmes Nawal Matlou, discover 57 pages dedicated to the post-partum period, without taking sides or passing judgment. Just to support you, through the sharing of experience and knowledge. In all transparency and kindness. To accompany you and give you confidence at this unique time. We hope you'll find as many answers as possible.