Breastfeeding – Does It Really Need To Be ALL Or NONE?

I was reading the Stork Stories Blog the other day and it got me thinking – Does breastfeeding really need to be all or none? We all talk about the benefits of breastfeeding and we try to convince moms-to-be of them too – but is SOME breastfeeding better than NO breastfeeding at all?

baby-javinThe short answer is YES!! Any amount of breastfeeding that you do is good for you and good for your baby. When your baby is first born, he is getting your colostrum – which contains important antibodies to help prepare his little body for this world of ours. Even breastfeeding your baby for ONE DAY has tremendous benefits. One of my favorite breastfeeding articles was was written by Diane Wiessinger and is called “What If I Want To Wean My Baby.” It is a wonderful walk through breastfeeding from birth to toddler hood and everything in between. Diane highlights the benefits that your baby gets every step of the way. I often give this article to moms who are trying to decide if they want to breastfeed. And I also give it to moms who have had to stop breastfeeding (for whatever reason) to show them how proud they should be and what benefits their babies have gotten.

Lot’s of moms stop breastfeeding when they are preparing to go back to work. They either don’t want to or don’t think they will be able to pump at work – so they wean their babies in preparation for going back to work. What I wish more moms knew is that – THEY DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS! They can still breastfeed in the morning and at night, but bottle feed or supplement during the day while they are at work. While, I wish every mom could breastfeeding exclusively, they don’t have to! If they aren’t able to or if they choose not to -THAT’S OK!

It doesn’t have to be ALL or NONE!

I think this is such an important realization that many mom’s don’t even consider. A change in lifestyle or a desire for freedom or returning to work doesn’t mean that breastfeeding has to end. The more you breastfeed, the more benefits you and your baby continue to get. And you get those benefits even if you aren’t breastfeeding exclusively.

Baby with BottleSo what do you do if you want to stop breastfeeding while you are at work, but continue while you are at home? You will want to wean your body off of exclusive breastfeeding gradually. So slowly discontinue one feeding time and substitute that time with a bottle. Once your body adjusts, then drop a second time. After a few weeks, your body will know that you are only nursing in the morning and at night and not during the day and your body will make more milk at the times that you ARE nursing! Making breastmilk is an on-demand process, so when your baby demands it, your body will make milk and when there is no demand, your body will learn to make less milk.

What if you want to nurse during the day on the weekends, but not during the week? That is possible too, although a little trickier! The human body is an amazing thing and it will adjust to whatever schedule you tell it to. So if you want to nurse morning and night during the week and all day long on the weekends – this is quite possible – especially if your supply is well-established and your baby is a little older. You will probably get engorged on Monday morning when you go to work and may need to express a little milk to relieve yourself during the day. But the rest of the week, your body will adjust to no daytime nursing. Then on Friday, in preparation for the weekend, you will want to drink a TON of water! This is going to enable your body to gear up and start making more milk for the weekend – so Friday and Saturday – you will want to drink, drink, drink as much water as possible. After a few weeks or so of this schedule, your body will adjust and will start to make more milk only during the times that your body needs it!

Have you ever nursed part-time? What were your experiences? Please leave a comment and share them with our readers.

**Baby with bottle photograph is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License.**

6 comments to Breastfeeding – Does It Really Need To Be ALL Or NONE?

  • Judy. Very well written. I hope this encourages more mom’s to breastfeed …however they themselves define it! My DIL was never planning to breastfeed … until she met my son and then me.. I educated her in small doses and she did nurse..some in the hospital– pumped for a while at home and fed pumped milk in combination with formula. She feels proud of herself. She feels she DID breastfeed! I am also proud of her! My grandson benefited from it. I do feel there are a lot of mother’s out there who just may possibly be turned off by thinking it HAS to be exclusive. This doesn’t change the fact that it IS BEST to be exclusive for the first 6 months as recommended by experts, and it IS best to focus on breastfeeding right away and for the first few weeks, let the baby get to be a pro and maximize your milk production before you introduce bottles.
    Be educated then decide for yourself.
    I had my babies before I was a Lactation Professional and had to return to work around the 4-5 month marker. I did a combination of breastfeeding at home and my baby rec’d formula while I was at work. I was just unable to get a pump to work for me. I continued with the combination for MONTHS with each of 3 kids. My body adjusted and seemed to have higher production while I was with my baby. I do not remember being uncomfortably full at work except maybe a day or 2 in beginning. Very mild. Sorry to go on and on…Thank you for the pingback! Melissa

    Birth_Lactation’s last blog post..Breastfeeding, Bottle Feeding and…. Somewhere In-between…. Why the Guilt?

  • When I started back at work when my sin was 12 months old, he was so attached to breastfeeding I never thought it would work. He refused bottles and barely used sippy cups. Basically, I worried he would starve during the day at his daycare. Amazingly, he ate foods there, but refused to drink. When I picked him up he would nurse right away and then maybe 3 more times before bed. And he seemed ok with this! I decided pumping at work was not for me, and after a few days of engorgement (slight discomfort) my breasts wereok with this schedule as well. Pretty cool! Now at a year and a half years old my son nurses mostly just twice a day, but this varies. On weekends he nurses whenever he feels like it, and i offer whener i tjimk it might help him calm down or avoid a tantrum :) When he is teething or has a cough and I keep him home he’ll nurse all day, sometimes it’s the only thing he’ll have. And my body will make the milk and adjust. This has Bern so surprising to me as no one ever told me this was possible. So great article Judy! I will forward it to moms I know who want to be in the know about going back to work especially!

    complainypants’s last blog post..

  • I returned to work when my daughter was 12 months old. (Hooray for Canadian maternity leave!) I was away from her for 10 hours at a stretch, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It amazed me how quickly my body adjusted to the separation. It was like some part of my brain just knew when I needed to make milk and when I didn’t. So many women think they need to wean before they return to work at one year, but I really found that continuing to nurse at this point was so easy, since I could completely bypass pumping. I really think it made the transition that much easier for both of us, too, since we weren’t giving up breastfeeding at the same time.

    Amber’s last blog post..The Story of Hannah’s Weaning

  • […] for your baby. The last thing you should feel is defeated. Be proud of all that you have done. Having to supplement isn’t the end of the world, but let’s see what we can do to get you breastfeeding […]

  • Erika Schick

    Great article! I think it’s great that many moms continue to pump their breastmilk when the go back to work. I am a stay at home mom & pumped so they would have breastmilk available when I was out running errands & such. That was one time a day. I don’t know if I would have breastfed for over a year if I’d had to pump multiple times a day at work. Great job to moms who do!

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