Temporary Break in Breastfeeding

Archived Q&A and Reviews

My sister is getting married in New Orleans in the fall, when my son will be almost 14 months old. I am debating whether he will come or not. If he stays home, I will be separated from him for 4-5 days. I'm not sure how this will affect our nursing relationship, I have no plans to wean him for at least another year. He doesn't take a bottle at all. Will I need to pump while I'm gone? Or is my milk supply so well established that I don't need to worry about a few days separation? Maybe he should come with me? I am having a hard time making this decision. Any thoughts are welcome. jennifer
I have 20 month old twins, am still nursing and have gone on a couple of trips without them. You will definitely need to pump while gone. The primary reason for this is that you are apt to be incredibly uncomfortable if you don't! The first time I was away from my girls they were about 10 months old. They didn't use bottles either, but did drink from cups. They had never showed much interest in milk, but my mother informed me that they drank a lot when I was gone. They also ate more solids. Same thing when I was away for a few days recently. At 14 months your son is most likely getting the majority of his calories from somewhere other than the breast. If your milk supply drops slightly during your trip, it will surely bounce right back when you return. I know it is hard to contemplate being away from your little one, but as long as you feel good about who you are leaving him with, my reccomendation is go, go, go! You will return refreshed, rested and sooo happy to see your son. He will adapt quickly to your absence and have a great time himself. Stefanie
I don't think that leaving your 14 month old nursling will leave you without milk or have any effect on the nursing relationship once you return. However, if you don't pump probably once a day or so, it could be pretty painful. My daughter quit nursing for a week when she was one and a half (because of a cold) and we seemed to resume without any problem once the cold went away. I did however have painful even leaky breasts (for the first 3 days). In deciding whether to take your child, I would think more about your relationship outside of nursing. How much will you miss him, how much the baby needs you. I don't want to offend anyone, but I don't really understand why people leave their babies when they go on long trips (unless they have to.) I have a 3 and a half year old and our tolerance limit for being away from each other is about 24 hours. I personally feel in my heart that my daughter is too young for me to go on trips without her, but if going without your baby is superconvient, important or will give you important rest you need, look in your heart. You weren't very specific about the trip but if the baby drinks from a cup and will be with dad or a relative they are used to and attached while your gone, it sounds better. But if you are leaving this child who drinks breastmilk exclusively - rejection of bottle and cup - and will be with a friend or relative they don't see that much, I think the trip could be a little traumatic for the child. Elizabeth
Tough decision about taking/leaving your son, I don't have an answer, only some comments to consider, as I went to a wedding when my daughter was 6 mos old. It will be more difficult for you to fully enjoy the festivities trying to keep track of him if he is walking (and zooming everywhere) and meet his needs when his timing may not mesh with adult timing. What was useful was having one or more babysitters hired specifically to watch kids in a certain location. People pulled together toys, and a separate room was reserved for the children who wandered in and out with the parents. If that could be done, you could go in to nurse as necessary or if you've transitioned him to a bottle, the babysitter could give him a bottle if separation is too hard. On the other hand if you leave him here, my experience with business trips while nursing is that you need to pump while away in order to keep up your supply (even if your milk is well established.) You'll want a full supply the moment you return, rather than experience frustration because you're not producing as much as he wants - not a good way to celebrate your return. It is supply-and-demand, after all, so if demand is down for awhile, shortly thereafter, supply will be down too. And if you go this route, you should start trying a bottle with him on occasion soon to see how he will react to it. FYI, one of my children became more interested in the bottle once introduced, because the milk flows more freely. Janna
Someone suggested using a bottle -- if you have only been breastfeeding, I'd recommend NOT going to bottle. Just go straight to a cup at this age. Bottles are a little hard to get kids off of and there's no need to set yourselves up for it. Barbara
I just wanted to add my 2 cents, because my experience was a little different. I have been separated from my now 2 year old twice- once at about 18 months and one at 22 months, for 3 nights each. He still nurses. The first trip, I pumped about one less time per day than he would nurse. My milk production went way down (i could watch less and less milk coming out at each pumping). When I returned, it took about 2-3 weeks to get my milk back up to normal. During these weeks, I supplimented with formula or milk (he still seems to prefer formula rather than milk at these times, although he does drink a little cows milk each day). On the second trip, I pumped more frequently (I was at a meeting and it was sort of an inconvience), but my milk still went way down. I have a good pump, but my son is better! So be prepared to pump, pump, pump- if it turns out that you need to. My son was fine upon my return- on both occasions the first thing he wanted to do was nurse! I really enjoyed the 6 nights of uninterupted sleep I have gotten since he's been born. On the other hand, my son is easy to have with me, and I prefer not to be separated from him if possible. So you can decide if you want to be with him at this time or not. Either way is fine. Good luck. The first time you are separated is the hardest. Another consideration if you have a partner (which you might because someone will care for him if you are gone), is that if you leave your son home, your patner will gain a deep understanding and really appreciate all the work that you normally do! Lisa