All-or-nothing isn't your only option. Many working moms prefer partial weaning, where a caregiver bottlefeeds during the day and Mom nurses when she's home. There are two strategies:
- Combo moms nurse when they're with the baby but have their caregiver feed formula. This may mean nursing right before you leave for work and as soon as you're home to prevent engorgement. On weekends, if your milk is low, you may want to supplement with formula. Kate Kelly, of Pelham, New York, took this tack with her son, Matthew. "I was engorged and leaking the first week back to work, then my body figured it out," she says. "But by 7 months, Matt lost interest. I wasn't nursing enough to keep up my milk supply. But it was nice while it lasted."
- Other moms pump at work so their caregiver can put breast milk in the bottle. You pump as often as your child would nurse, maybe about three 15-minute sessions in a day. Phillipa Wilson, of Orlando, says pumping got easier with each of her three kids: "I found ways to de-stress and got used to the fact that nothing's perfect but you do your best. Whatever happens, the baby will be okay, and you will too."
Wondering how to wean a child who can not only grab for the breast but gab for it too?
Ohio La Leche League leader Diane Bengson says that the key to avoiding meltdowns is to take your tot's mind off nursing. When your toddler starts hankering for the breast, lure her into a block-building bonanza, an engrossing game of make-believe, or a finger-painting frenzy.
Distraction was crucial for Megana Hosein, of San Jose, who started weaning her 15-month-old when she became pregnant again. It was important to Hosein that her daughter lead the weaning, but she found plenty of ways to help her along. "I literally buttoned up so that she never saw cleavage, and I avoided lying down with her," Hosein explains. "Basically, I didn't give her any reason to think about breastfeeding."
Originally published in the September 2007 issue of American Baby magazine.
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