5 Useful Tips For Breastfeeding Part-Time
Let me ask you something: have you been thinking about breastfeeding your newborn but you’re a little nervous about the level of commitment it takes?
Has your best friend been telling you the horror stories of sleepless nights and co-sleeping because of her nursing baby? Or the same old story about husbands who peacefully slept through the night because they didn’t have what the baby wanted. Or needed.
Girl, I heard it all too. In fact, by the time my first baby came along I wasn’t sure if I’d have the patience or confidence to exclusively breastfeed. Looking back, I know those women were just trying to warn me about how hard a breastfeeding journey can be. Because it can be the hardest thing you ever do!
What I’ve learned over 20 years of working with new mamas and having four of my own babies, is that every situation is different. Every. Single. One. And I’m kinda tired of all the breast-shaming women get in general: If you don’t breastfeed you don’t love your baby enough and if you do breastfeed you need to keep covered up and don’t do it too long!
Some women don't even consider part-time nursing because so many women make it out to be such a black and white issue: you either do it or you don't.
But if I know you, you're weighing all of your options right now, Mama. It's not selfish if you only want to rent out your milk-makers part of the time. In fact, some great reasons to do it are:
- If you require sleep for your mental health you may want to skip night feedings.
- If you’re going back to work, you may only want to breastfeed in the mornings and evenings.
- If you have other kids to deal with, you may want to only nurse your baby on every other feeding.
- If you have any reason at all that isn’t anybody else’s effing business, you may want to breastfeed part-time.
What if I told you that breastfeeding doesn’t have to be an ‘all-or-nothing’ thing that you do with your baby? You can totally have a breastfeeding and formula-feeding relationship.
Can I Breastfeed Only Some of the Time?
Absolutely! Your breasts will make milk based on how often the baby breastfeeds. If you have to go back to work you can breastfeed when it works best for you and supplement the baby for other feedings. BTW- it’s best to supplement with pumped breast milk, but any amount of breastfeeding that you can provide to your baby will be beneficial, even if it's only one feed a day.
Most older babies will adjust really easily to taking the breast and artificial bottle nipples. If your baby is using a bottle while you’re at work, you’ll both still enjoy the closeness of breastfeeding after being apart for the day.
Basically, your baby will benefit emotionally and nutritionally by part-time breastfeeding.
What if I’m Going From Full-Time Breastfeeding to Part-Time?
If you’re going from breastfeeding all of the time to some of the time, you’ll need to wean your baby over some time. Weaning is the process of getting your baby used to feeding in a way different than breastfeeding. This may take some effort, so make sure you give yourselves lots of time before you have to go back to work.
If you find yourself engorged from the weaning process, check out this post about how to use cabbage leaves to relieve engorgement. It’s cheap and easy to do!
5 Tips for Part-Time Breastfeeders:
1) If you’re weaning a baby who’s less than a year old, you should offer his least favorite method of feeding first. For example: bottle first if she prefers the breast, breast first if she prefers the bottle. Sometimes, babies won't accept a bottle from their moms because they know you’re the one with the boobies. Hey, your baby is nobody’s fool! If this is the case, it’s a good idea to see if someone else can convince the baby to take the bottle.
2) Allow your baby to have a few days in between each time you substitute a breastfeeding session with a bottle. I wasn't kidding when I Express a little milk from your breasts (for your own comfort) if you become engorged. Don't express a whole feeding's worth of milk- just take the pressure off. Your body will get the signal to make less milk over time.
If you're not sure how to hand-express your breast milk, I've got you covered! Check out this awesome resource I made specifically for you!
3) It may take some time for your body to become used to part-time breastfeeding and your breasts may become engorged. If this happens to you, try cabbage leaf compression for relief. I’m including the link again because it works really well!
4) Drink lots of water during the day.
5) SUPER IMPORTANT: If you’re not exclusively breastfeeding on demand, you will need to use birth control. Part-time breastfeeding is NOT a method of birth control.
Wanna wean a baby who’s about a year, or older?
This can be a little tricky for some, but for others it's a breeze. Here's a few tips to try weaning a full-time nursling to part-time:
1) You may not need to go with bottles at all. All you may need to do is stop offering the breast. The Don't offer, don't refuse method may work for you.
2) Substitute a cup of water, juice or cow's milk (if tolerated), or solid food, for the baby or toddler's least important feeding.
3) Have Dad (or another relative) help by taking the baby to the kitchen for a special breakfast or snack. This can become a special time for both of them. (And you can get some extra sleep!)
4) For mealtime feeds, try to offer food first and then a short session at the breast later.
5) Avoid sitting down in your special 'nursing spot'. If your child won't nap without breastfeeding, you may need to resort to a car ride to get him or her to sleep.
A breastfeeding journey isn’t a single, straight highway; it’s more of a hilly, curvy country road. You’re both gonna need to be comfortable to make it work. So if that means breastfeeding part-time, nurse on with your bad self!
You’re doing a great job, Mama.
Are you looking for a little inspiration to feed your baby whatever way works best for YOU? Check out this post. Hopefully it helps you do you, boo!
Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup
Hey there, I’m Joanne.
I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!
As the founder and CEO of MamaSoup, I’ve been featured on CHEX TV Morning Show, KawarthaNOW, Economic Development- The City of Kawartha Lakes and MyKawartha.
Still with me? Join me over at MamaSoup to keep the conversation going!