QuestionsCategory: BreastfeedingWhen is the best time to stop breastfeeding I am returning to work in 6 weeks time?
Sophie J asked 6 years ago

I’m feeling guilty about returning to work and to add to that feeling is the guilt about stopping breast feeding. When is the fairest time to do it so I don’t make it doubly difficult for my baby

1 Answers
Jill Wheatcroft Staff answered 6 years ago

Hi Sophie ,

Please do not feel guilty about going back to work and stopping breast feeding, lots and lots of adults walking around today were bottle fed and are fine. It not so much about breast feeding or being at home all the time, it’s about children growing up knowing they are valued and loved.

I am not sure of the age of your baby it may be they are already cutting down on their milk consumption and as they take more solids,  you may not have so many feeds to swop. Ideally the transition from breast feeding onto bottle feeding should be gradual. I would start about three to four weeks before going back to work and substitute a bottle of infant formula for one feed during the day. Carry on doing this for a few days then change to infant formula for a second feed and so on. Some babies will switch over very fast, other will take time. I would leave until last the feed before bedtime, you do not want this to become linked to sleeping  That’s a tough answer as perhaps you were hoping that this was a feed you could maintain upon return to work, Ultimately it is your choice but this is a good point to bear in mind and watch out for. Before stopping breast feeding completely, try and time the transition about a week before you go back to work. While most babies will swop to a bottle quite easily, some babies will take a while to adapt to a bottle it’s usually because the technique to get milk is different from sucking on the breast.

If you have already been giving water by bottle this may not be an issue but sometime you need to experiment until you find a teat the baby likes. The same can go for the infant formula, sometimes you need to try a couple of different ones until you find one that suits. Do not change too quickly it’s worth persevering for a few days before experimenting with a different brand.

That being said, and no pressure intended, if you want to continue breast feeding while back at work you may be able to do so. It will depend where you are working and you will need access to a fridge and a breast pump. A couple of weeks prior to going back to work try and express some extra milk after a feed during the day to build up your supply, the more you feed and express, the more milk you will produce. You can also freeze this milk as a backup supply in case of emergencies which is always a good idea.

About two weeks before going back start prepping your baby for the change, express the equivalent of  one feed per day . Use this expressed breast milk and give  it to your baby by bottle so your baby gets use to having it this way. You may need someone else to actually give the milk to your baby,  if you are there the baby will most likely push to have the  milk via the breast. Not only fustrating for all concerned but may well trigger you having a leaky moment.

When you do go back to work try and express in the morning before leaving for work, One person I knew managed to borrow a large but very efficient pump from the NCT which enabled her to leave fresh milk every day. On top of that in order to maintain your milk supply,  you need to express at work and keep it in the workplace fridge (marked to not be touched),  this can then be used the next day at home.

Some parents do part bottle and part breast feeding but bear in mind this does not work for everyone now you understand the link between feeding and keeping up milk supply.  When you stopped feeding regularly your milk will often begin to dry up. Whatever you decide (no judgement from me, I have known lots of very happy bottle fed babies) I hope the move from breast feeding to bottle goes well and going back to work is a smooth transition for both of you.

All the best

Jill Wheatcroft

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