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Part-time Nursing

The Parents Network > Advice > Advice about Breastfeeding > Part-time Nursing


I have concerns about part-time toddler nursing; I know there was a strand on this topic somewhat recently, so it would probably be better if you responded to me privately. I have been working and pumping since my son was 3 months old, and it's been going well. He's now 17 months old. We have been gradually shifting him to soy milk during the day when he's at daycare, in the hopes that I can stop pumping so much; I love nursing but the pumping is getting onerous. I am delighted to have him continue to nurse morning and night for as long as he wants, but I've had a hard time finding detailed information about part-time nursing.(I've not found a bookstore that carries the LaLeche book, Mothering Your Nursing Toddler.)

I currently nurse him at 5:30 AM, 5:00 PM, and 8 PM; I pump at 8 AM, 11:30 AM, and 2:15 PM, getting 6-7 oz. total. (I used to get a lot more before he started eating solid food). I'd like to keep nursing him at the three times I currently do. He is fine to have only soymilk during the day.

Here are my questions:

1) If I stop pumping during the day, will it reduce my overall milk supply? Will he still get enough at the times he does nurse?
2) What should I do on weekends and other days that I spend all day with him? If I let him nurse midday, will there be enough later? Will it increase production? Should I just offer him bottles in the day?
3) Has anyone got any other suggestions or resources on this topic?

Thank you so very much.
Kirsten


I admire you for pumping for so long!! I also nursed my son part-time until he was almost two, never pumped and never had a problem with milk production. He was away from me all day three days a week, and I nursed him at about the same times you nurse your child and on other days I nursed him when he requested it. I know of other moms who worked full time and nursed part time with no problem. As children get older they are getting a lot of nutrition from other foods, so I don't think you need to worry about that aspect of it. I do think my son was getting a fair amount of nutrition from my breast milk however, because when I started weaning him (due to pregnancy with second child) he started eating a lot more. Good luck!
I pumped from when my son was 4.5 months, when I went back to work, to when he was 14 months, and am nursing now morning, some late afternoons, evenings, & weekends. I gradually dropped pumping sessions, going from 3-4 per day in January to 1 noontime session in March, then dropped that in April. I use to obsess over supply, and how many ounces I got, but now that I have no idea what my output it, I'm not worried at all - my son is evidently getting everything he needs. I haven't noticed any difference in letdowns or anything like that. On weekends he nurses more, and I might be a little full at the beginning of the week in response (i.e. I think it ups my production a bit) but nothing too much, though at the beginning I did get engorged sometimes. I think your body just adjusts to whatever nursing routine you get into, but it takes time and you have to go slow. I highly recommend - the list is very high volume, but there's a lot of experience and good ideas on it. I love our nursing relationship - and *really* love not having to pump, and wash those darn pump parts! Good luck!
Based on my experience, I would recommend phasing out pumping. I stopped pumping when my daughter was about 13 months old - when she could finally be tricked into drinking something besides bm out of something besides my breast - and never thought twice. I nursed her on demand on the days I wasn't at school or work, and she didn't seem to drink a whole lot of extraciricular liquids when I was with her at that point, although that increased as time went on.

Reading between the lines, it seems like you want to keep your milk supply up so you can continue to nurse as long as the two of you want. However, by the time your little one is 17 months old your milk supply is well established. If you just nursed your child once a day you could continue that indefinately. I guess I'm just trying to communicate is nursing a toddler is completely different from nursing an infant. You don't have to worry about the timing and amount so much because although you may be the biggest source of nourishment, you are not the exclusive source. If you have any questions, I would recommend talking with the lactation nurse which is affiliated with the hospital you gave birth at. Almost any question you can have, these ladies have been there with not only their own babies but dozens of other peoples'. If you or anyone else is out there who may have problems is a Kaiser patient, you can call Lorie Clifford at Hayward Kaiser 784-2804. So either the mom or the child can be a Kaiser patient and this is their "warm line" so you tell your concern and they will get back to you within a day or so. Good luck, keep nursing. Elizabeth


My experience- I stopped pumping during the day when my son was about 14 months (unless I spent night away from him, in which case I pumped to make myself more comfortable). There was no problem letting him nurse when ever he wanted. He usually nursed when I got home, then several times at night, once before I left in the morning. Weekends weren't an issue - he nursed as he wished during the day with no need to "ration" milk for later. Amazing things, those breasts.
I know women's bodies/milk supplies may respond differently, so I can't generalize, but this has been my experience: -I stopped pumping when my daughter was 13-14 months old, as she had started drinking milk at 12 months. I had been pumping twice a day at work and I just stopped altogether. I didn't find that this decreased my milk supply for the times she continued to nurse. She is now 19 months old and still nurses in the morning, when I get home and at night. I also didn't find that I had that hard a time shifting, didn't have much engorgement, etc., just slightly fuller breasts the first few days. That was a relief! -I only work 3 days a week, and she does nurse midday during the days I'm home, in the late morning and before her nap. Again, it's all seemed to work out. She seems to have enough milk (at least, there have been no complaints), and I haven't found that nursing during these days creates a problem for the days that I'm at work. The only times I have felt somewhat engorged (though not too uncomfortable) when I returned to work were when I had been with her a while during vacations. I haven't offered her bottles during the days that I'm with her, although I'm now considering that as I'm moving toward thinking about weaning.

Anyway, good luck. I remember how tiring it was to pump after doing it for so many months. I found the shifts to be actually quite easy, and I hope that will also be your experience. It's amazing how the body seems to adapt!


1. The book Mothering Your Nursing Toddler is currently available by mail from Powell's (in Portland, unionized booksellers, sells new and used books, great store). They charge $5.00 shipping for the first book and $1 for each book thereafter. A used copy of this book is currently $6.50-7.50 depending on condition. Their search page: http://www.powells.com/search/DTSearch/search.cgi

2. My personal experience: My son was nursing within 1 hour of birth and seemed to know exactly what to do (I sure didn't). I never could express more than 2 or 3 ounces (PumpInStyle). My son refused expressed milk from a bottle. My milk spoiled if frozen. I went back to work when my son was six weeks old (believe me, you don't want to hear the particulars about working and my first year of breastfeeding but it includes working from home). My son had breast milk exclusively for 12 months. By 18 months the majority of his nutrition came from solids and we ended the night nursing (took 3 nights with 2 major backslides at 20 and 24 months). He didn't learn to take a nap without nursing himself to sleep until he went to preschool (22 months) and had to take a nap there. Now, at 34 months he breastfeeds first thing in the morning and just before sleep--plus whenever else he can talk his mom into it. I've been away from him for as much as four days and nights and our breastfeeding experience seems just as satisfactory for each of us after my return. I did nothing special except for consciously ease the transitions--always at my initiative. I'm always a bit over-extended (okay totally over-extended and stupid from exhaustion) and I'm toying with dropping one of the two "regular" nursings in the next month. Sojeila


My answers to your questions, in order:

1) yes, it will probably reduce your overall milk supply if you stop pumping during the day. But your body will probably still compensate and you two will adjust. It will take a few days, though, so be prepared. I have a friend who became separated from her husband when her daughter was about 18 mos and still nursing. The daughter went to the husband for whole weekends. At first, it was difficult, and the mom became rather engorged over the weekend, but eventually her body figured it out, and they were able to keep up the nursing with no serious problems to mom or baby. Your body should be able to deal with it if you stop pumping during the day.

2) Don't worry about nursing on the weekends. He'll definitely get enough later even if you nurse him when you would normally be at work--your body will make more when it's needed. If you offer him extra nourishment, I think I would vote for more solid food, rather than for soy milk. That will help ensure that your milk supply stays as high as possible, since he is getting as much milk directly from you as possible.

3) Contact La Leche League, if you haven't already. The East Bay Referral line is 510-869-4542. They should be able to put you in touch with the appropriate group.


I am the mother of a nursing toddler too. I weaned from pumping at 10mos postpartum and we have been nursing full time while I am home (evenings and weekends) ever since. I thought I would give some of your questions a shot.

"1) If I stop pumping during the day, will it reduce my overall milk supply? Will he still get enough at the times he does nurse?" Well, yeah it will reduce your overall milk supply because your breasts will not be making milk all the time like they do now. BUT he will still get enough at the times he does nurse because milk is made on demand. I think this is a hard thing to understand when you have been pumping, I know it was for me, because I was in the whole "the more you feed the more you make, and you need to do that to have enough supply" frame of mind. But really that is because pumping is less efficient than a baby at getting milk out, and getting the breast to make more milk. So when you pump you HAVE to do it on a frequent schedule. But at the same I was pumping I nursed on demand on the weekend. Sometimes it was more often, sometimes less, it was RARELY at the same scheduled time as my pump breaks during the work week, but I never had a problem with supply, or not enough for my baby. The body makes what the baby needs.

"2) What should I do on weekends and other days that I spend all day with him? If I let him nurse midday, will there be enough later? Will it increase production? Should I just offer him bottles in the day?" Breasts are not like bottles, there is not a finite amount that they hold and then your run out. Your body keeps making milk throughout the feeding to meet the child's need. If the child chooses to nurse again shortly after a feeding your body will simply just start making milk again. It may take a little longer for you to get a let down, but your baby will be able to get milk. I don't know what your experience has been with pumping but most likely you have noticed that when you have had a "supply dip" it takes several days (3-5) of increased pumping to get it to jump back up. So in relation to that... increased nursing for 2 days (Saturday and Sunday) is unlikely to be enough to trigger your body to make more for the rest of the week... Maybe when you are first doing this new routine you will feel a little full on Monday, but it shouldn't be a problem. I wouldn't offer bottles during the day. If your child is not used to taking a bottle from you there is no reason to start that now. There is a book called "Nursing Mother, Working Mother" and I think that the motto in that book is "When my child is away from me he gets his bottle (or cup), but when we are together he gets the breast." If you find that over time you would like to drop nursing sessions so that your child is only nursing at certain times of the day every day, then you could just offer other liquids in a cup. 17 months is about the time that doctors all want babies off bottles these days anyway, and although I dont' believe that children should be forced to give up their bottle so young, it certainly is not unreasonable for them to become proficient with a cup.

"3) Has anyone got any other suggestions or resources on this topic?" While I was still pumping I belonged to an e-mail list for pumping moms that has GREAT support and information it is through www.pumpingmoms.org . There are several lactation consultants and a couple of hundred moms on the list who all provide information on just about any question you may have about breast feeding and pumping. I recommend subscribing you will get a lot of your questions answered and as a long time pumping mom you will probably be able to help others out too. One of the lactation consultants who works with the list has a website with LOTS of great information. Here is the URL .

Also, I just bought "Mothering Your Nursing Toddler" I bought it through Barnes and Noble on line (www.bn.com). I recently heard that you can get a great deal on the brand new Feb 2000 version from this website: It's only $9.19 and shipping is free! I think I paid about $15. I just started reading it but I am pretty sure it doesn't have any informaiton on pump weaning in it. She seems to follow the starndard LLL rule of mom's shouldn't work outside the home when they have a nursing child. In fact there is very little information in books about weaning from a pump but continuing to breast feed because women just haven't been doing it for that long, and there just isn't very much research on the topic. The lactation consultants who participate on the pumping mom's list I mentioned above often use that group to get information about long term pumping because it is a good "test group".


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