Ask Judy: Should I Pump?

My son is still nursing at least twice a day at 20 months: long one at wakeup time and variably at bedtime (20 min to 1 hour depending on his mood). I work part time, so we also nurse for naptime on the days I am with him.

Next week, I need to work at night (very odd for me) during his bedtime. I will be able to be home with him for naptime nursing and will try to offer a “last” nursing 90 min before our typical bedtime nursing before leaving him with my husband.

I suspect he will be fine, but wonder if my supply might be affected. Also, I haven’t pumped since he was 14 months, do you think I should plan for a nighttime pump when I get home late. (I won’t wake him, as it would probably just bug him and disrupt his overall sleep hours that night).

Any advice would be most welcome!

Hi Nicole,
Thanks for writing in to Mommy News & Views with your breastfeeding question. There are a lot of different opinions on this subject, so I will give you mine, and hopefully some of the readers of this blog will chime in with their thoughts as well.

At 20 months, your milk supply is very well established. Since it is an on-demand system, you supply will adjust based on the demand. So if you are going to miss your night time nursing session for a week, then you may see a dip in your supply during that time. But since you have a well-established milk supply, my first inclination is to tell you not to worry about it. When you start nursing again at night, your supply will come back. You may see a slight dip, but it should rebound once you go back to your regular schedule. If your baby were younger, I would encourage you to pump, but since you have been nursing for a long time and you have a well-established supply, then I don’t think it will be necessary for you to pump.

The first night or two that you are away, you may want to bring your pump with you, or plan to pump when you get home, just in case you are engorged. You wouldn’t want to get mastitis by getting overly engorged and you wouldn’t want to be uncomfortable by being overly engorged either. If you don’t experience any discomfort, then there is no need to pump. If you do, then you can pump to relieve the pressure.

When you start nursing again, drink lots of extra fluids to help your body to start making milk again. Your son may be a little frustrated the first time he nurses at night again if your milk is slow to let down, but it should come right back to where it was in a few days.

To our readers: Have you ever had to go a period of time without nursing? Did you pump? Are you able to offer any additional advice to Nicole?

1 comment to Ask Judy: Should I Pump?

  • I don’t really need to wirte much, but I did want to add my “vote of confidence” to Judy’s answer.

    At that age, I think you will both be able to adapt to this shift, and adapt back, with little trouble. :)

    Obviously, the common sense precautions for the first day(s) – watch for engorgement, perhaps leave a pumped bottle for him, offer extra nursngs when you’re around, etc…
    .-= Tiffany (As For My House)´s last blog ..Modesty Monday Update =-.

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