My daughter was 11 months old when I returned to work. When she was about 6 months old she had had a couple of bottles with no bother when I had gone out for the evening, so I did not consider it would be a problem her taking milk while I was away. As I got close to returning to work I started to express frequently. I’ve never been very good at expressing and rarely got more than 1-2 oz at a time, so I needed to express quite frequently to build up enough for feeds while I was at work. Actually, I found that it got better and by the time I went back to work I was sometimes able to express 4 oz at a time. I was only feeding her once or twice during the day by this stage, so I decided I would probably manage without expressing while at work.
We had a few trial sessions with my daughter at home with Dad while I went out shopping, offering her the milk in a cup, but she would not take any of it. She was eating well so I was not too worried, and I assumed a whole day from half past 7 to after half past 4 she would at least drink something. However, every day I would take the milk from the freezer to give to the nursery staff or leave with her Dad, and every day they would offer it to her and end up pouring it down the sink. She would not drink a thing all day and wanted a feed as soon as she saw me. She didn’t really have more feeds when I was home to make up for not feeding all day, it seemed she was just happy to wait until later in the day. This went on until all my supplies of EBM were used up, I don’t think she ever drank more than a couple of sips. It was frustrating, but I felt happy she was eating plenty of foods and these had enough liquid that she did not get dehydrated.
As I said, because my daughter was already eating a good diet and taking fewer breastfeeds when I returned to work, I decided not to express while I was at work. I do not remember having many problems of leaking or getting engorged.
As she grew up, she started to drink more water from a cup and eventually dropped the afternoon feed. I carried on feeding her at bed time and first thing in the morning until she was nearly two. If I was ever away for a day or so on business, she coped fine without the feeds (though I was desperate to feed her by the time I came back!). Eventually I stopped feeding her so that I didn’t have to wake her so early for getting ready to go out to work. Unlike my son who used to have a big cup of milk first thing in the morning and last thing at bed time until he was about 4, my daughter has never been interested. She is happy just with the cuddle without the milk.