Weaning While Working Full-time

Archived Q&A and Reviews

I am the mother of a ten-month-old and I am starting to think about what it will mean to wean my daughter in a few months. I work full-time, so on work days I nurse her (in bed) first thing in the morning and last thing at night (I nurse her almost to sleep); I pump once or twice a day at work, but only get about 4 ounces total so daytime bottles are supplemented with formula. On off-days, I nurse all day. I have some specific questions that I would love to get people's thoughts on:

1) What I would love to do is to keep nursing at night indefinitely, but she seems more attached to the morning time and will sometimes even go to sleep without nursing. Do I have any hope of transitioning to a nighttime-only schedule and, if so, how can I phase out the morning session with as little upset as possible?

2) If I stop pumping now, will I be unable to nurse during the day when I want to? If so, how long will it take for my body to stop making that milk (and could I get it back somehow, since I'd still be nursing in the morning and at night)?

3) Our pediatrician recommended phasing out the daytime bottles now, before our daughter becomes too attached to them, and giving her pumped milk / supplementary formula in a cup. Although she enthusiastically takes water from a cup and milk or formula from a bottle, she absolutely refuses milk or formula from a cup! What to do...?

Any general thoughts you might have on other issues related to weaning would be much appreciated. Thank you!

I have nursed my daughter from birth till now (almost age 3). My milk supply did not dry up when I stopped pumping (at about age 1), though I'm sure it dropped some. She drinks cow's milk most of the time now (from a bottle--she has also refused to drink milk from a cup). We're down to nursing only every few days, usually first thing in the morning. You'd think there'd be nothing there, but there is (I've seen it!). Your body will produce whatever is actually required of it as long as you make sure you are getting adequate liquids, etc. Good luck!
I bet you could stop pumping during the day and maintain you milk supply. For the last 3 months I've nursed my 12 month old at 6 am and 9 pm, (and don't pump) on week days, but on weekends I give her an extra feeding at naptime. She seems to get enough during the extra nursing to be happy, and I can tell on Mondays that my milk supply has increased. If fact, over this Thanksgiving break, (because I guess she can't stand turkey), she almost exclusively nursed and I am back to the supply I had when she was 4 months. I think that as long as you have a cooperative baby, you can train your milk supply to be whatever you want. The hard part is getting the baby to cooperate. On this I have no good advice.

(Another thing: Some have said that partial or gradual weaning is frustrating for an older child, and I've found this to be true with both of my children. They don't understand only at night. To them, if you say no, you are being inconsistent and it really hurts their feelings. I wouldn't recommend denying your baby a breast, even though I do it my daughter every once in a while. )

I can't speak to all of your concerns but in regards to 2) If I stop pumping now, will I be unable to nurse during the day when I want to? If so, how long will it take for my body to stop making that milk (and could I get it back somehow, since I'd still be nursing in the morning and at night)?

I nursed my first daughter until she was almost 3 years old, but when she was about a year old she started day care full time. I never pumped again. She was eating plenty of food and was fine for a whole day without it. I adjusted very quickly and it was never a problem over the weekends when I nursed her more. On a few ocassions I even went away for 5 days. Each time I had to express milk, by hand or with a pump, on about the second or third day away, but then I stopped producing milk until I returned and my daughter nursed again as normal. The whole system works like a charm. Incidentally I only weaned her becasue I was pregant, and my breast hurt so badly from her nursing. So I am not saying that you shouldn't wean, just that there is a lot of flexibility about nursing, that can allow you to do it the way you want if you are gettting something out of it. Good Luck.

I am the mother of a 10 month old son, and when I read your message I did a double take because it could have come from me. I have been a participant on another list for pumping moms and over the past month I have been asking some of the same questions in prearation for weaning from the pump, which I just started this week. I too would like to continue to nurse when I am with my baby, I just don't want to keep keep hauling my pump around after the holiday break!

What I have been told is that most moms who have babies around a year old find that they can nurse full time on the weekend even if they are not nursing/pumping all week while at work. But some moms can't, and there is no way of knowing until you try. My guess would be this: If you are only pumping 1-2 times a day now, and are able to satisfy your baby when nursing, you probably won't have a problem if you do cut out the pumping.

The LC's say that it takes about 4 months for your body to really stop making milk, so in theory you could get the milk back, but you may not be able to get as much as you were before. Of course you could try using supplements to increase your supply if it came to that.

I don't know much about changing the nursing schedule. When people talk about weaning they usually recommend giving up the favorite session last. Is there a particular reason you need to cut out the morning session? I don't think you mentioned it.

As for getting rid of daytime bottles by one year.... well I really wonder about that. It seems that lots of drs. are pushing that these days. Supposedly to make your life easier later on down the road. It doesn't seem like a compelling reason to me... I wouldn't try to give up the bottles until my baby was doing well with drinking all beverages from a cup. But since I am just a first time mom, I don't have any experience with getting the baby to that point.