Every Drop Matters: Why Breastfeeding Is NOT All or Nothing

I’ve come to learn that many nursing moms are not aware that breastfeeding does not have to be all or nothing–even babies who get one drop of breastmilk per day are still getting the benefits of breastmilk. More important (at least from my perspective), it’s definitely physically possible to nurse only a few times per day.

With my first son, we ran into a bushel of problems nursing and particularly pumping at work. I’ve talked about some of these before and am always happy to elaborate, but for the sake of this blog post, the important takeaway from that experience was that during the day while I was at work, my son drank bottles of alternate milk. While I was with him at home, he nursed.

And this continued until he was 27 months old!

I share this information today because I’ve learned that many working mothers, facing the laundry list of challenges that can come with pumping milk during the work day, eventually come to a place where it is no longer possible for them to continue pumping. What I’m finding these moms don’t realize is that this does not mean they have to give up their nursing sessions at home.

Even if baby is getting very little milk from these nursing sessions, mom is still providing comfort, bonding, and skin-to-skin benefits. According to Kellymom.com, this sort of combination feeding is also called “partial weaning.” Because our breasts are designed to respond to baby’s suckling, Kellymom reminds us that as long as the baby is removing milk from the breast at certain times of day (before bed, right after work, upon waking, etc.), the body will continue to produce milk at these times of day.

This means, of course, continuing to offer the breast when mom is together with baby–Kellymom explains that bottles offered at home, too, will mean a decrease in supply during these nursing times because, again, milk is not being removed from the breast at this time. Her article goes on to link to lots of helpful resources about weaning from the pump, so it’s a very worthy read if this is something you are considering!

For us, combination feeding was the perfect solution to continue our nursing relationship. Every morning, my toddler greeted me, asking for “nulk” first thing. He nursed to sleep in my arms at night. I’m so glad I knew this was an option for us!

Did you “combo feed” your baby? Leave us a comment to share your experience!

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