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Thread: talk to me about pump weaning

  1. #1
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    Default talk to me about pump weaning

    Talk to me about pump weaning please. I need to better understand the relationship between solid intake and pump weaning and know when, roughly, I can start thinking about pump weaning.

    Background on our situation: Baby is coming up on 1 year (!). I work 4 days/week. Baby gets three 4-oz bottles of expressed breastmilk while in daycare. I pump 3x/work day to get those 12 oz for baby. When we are together (weeknights, weekends, and overnights cosleeping) he nurses a lot... can't say exactly, but probably every 2-3 hours around the clock? As for solids, he is experimenting with tasting all kinds of foods (loosely a BLS approach), but most of it still gets spit out. I think maybe 10% of it goes down the hatch, but otherwise there's a lot of tasting, spitting, and occasional gagging. I do have a good freezer stash (maybe 150-200 oz? not sure exactly).

    As you can guess I am quite eager to pump wean - or just pump less, if I can't ditch the dairy cow routine entirely. But it seems baby is still so reliant on breastmilk for his nutrition, so I don't want to jeopardize supply ... although other moms have told me that after 1 year your supply is so established it's just *there* when you need it. I think we're headed into extended breastfeeding territory anyway. Anyway I'm just confused. What do I need to look for with baby's habits to let me know that it would be safe to cut back on pumping without impact on supply? Part of me wonders if I could I pump less (2x/day) and use freezer stash to make up the difference, and just have faith that baby will get it together on solids before the freezer stash is done... but that's a leap of faith, isn't it?? I was sort of hoping the freezer stash would last (via rotating through it) to the point where he was taking milk in sippies as a supplement to solids, so he can stay on BM for longer and transition to cowmilk later without me having to pump ad infinitum, but maybe that was overly optimistic.

    Any insight/advice would be appreciated, thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: talk to me about pump weaning

    Hi mercystreet. I really think you can pump wean at a year in parallel with working on your LO's solids intake. Even a few weeks can make a big difference in baby's solids intake. It sounds like you have enough milk in the freezer to cover three weeks completely (at least), so you can either use that to start pump weaning before a year, or just wait until a year, gradually pump wean, and continue giving the breast milk during the day. Although given the amount he's nursing (and likely to continue nursing) he doesn't even necessarily need the EBM during the day. I wouldn't worry about your supply. It will decrease to some extent - that's the point, you don't want to HAVE to pump during the day because you're bursting! - but there's still plenty of milk in there for those nights and weekends, and if LO finds it to be unsatisfactory, he'll nurse more to get your supply to where he wants it. He knows what to do! (I had my period a couple weeks ago and a pretty marked decrease in supply, and LO just hung out on the breast for a loooong time to get it back to where she wanted it to be. Then after my period was over my supply bounced back and I was way too full for a couple days!) I'm a fan of gradual pump weaning - since it sounds like you're not in a huge rush, you can drop one session, hang out there for a week or even several weeks, then drop another session, etc. That may also give you more confidence in the process. I mean I think to some extent it's all about having faith in your body and the fact that even though you've worked so hard to maintain your supply and provide enough ounces for your little one while you're at work, now you can start to let go of that, stop obsessing over every ounce, and just kind of trust your body, you know? (It's a really nice feeling by the way not to have to worry about every ounce!)

  3. #3
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    Default Re: talk to me about pump weaning

    Thanks Bfwmomof3. I *do* want to stop worrying about every ounce ... but it's a hard habit to break! Especially because LO still isn't swallowing much solids, and he usually does eat all 12 oz I send him with (he does refuse the bottle when he doesn't want it, he's not one of those babies who overeats from the bottle).

    So can I ask you some follow up questions about the logistics of this? Let's say I cut down from 3 pump sessions to 2 per day. That will probably yield me closer to 8-9 oz instead of 12 oz. So then instead of sending LO to daycare with three 4-oz bottles of freshly pumped milk -- do I send 2 bottles of 4 oz? 3 bottles of 3 oz? Keep him at 12 oz/day but use freezer stash to make up the difference? Send more solids to make up the difference and hope he gets it together to eat them? Just be prepared for even more night nursing (ugh) if he doesn't? TIA for your advice.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: talk to me about pump weaning

    You can start off sending him with the same amount, especially since you have the freezer stash. And work on the solids in parallel. So whereas before a year, you'd nurse or offer BM before solids, now you can switch the order - offer the solids first. And make sure you're trying lots of different foods because you never know what will appeal to a baby/young toddler (and it may differ from day to day! their tastes are fickle). So I guess if you are sending the solids with him, then yes, maybe trying upping what you are sending. And also offer water - because he may drink out of hunger or thirst. So you can do solids plus water in a sippy cup, then EBM. One you've gone through the freezer stash, you can see where is on his solids intake and his daytime milk intake. If you've made no progress on cutting down on his daytime milk intake, then you can decide whether to prolong your pumping time, switch to cow's milk, or rely on nighttime nursing. This also depends on how much nighttime you're doing - if it's a lot, you may feel more comfortable relying on that; if not, you may feel like you want to offer at least some milk during the day.

    ETA: Just wanted to add, that I think you WILL make progress on cutting down on the EBM consumption during this time. Also you can try to offer the solids, and then somewhat later, the EBM, to try to gradually space it out.
    Last edited by @llli*bfwmomof3; May 13th, 2013 at 02:58 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: talk to me about pump weaning

    Thanks so much. This is really helpful. Believe it or not I have no working-mom-friends in real life who breastfed long enough to get to the 1 year mark and advise me about pump weaning! And my daycare is happy to follow all my feeding instructions, but they are no help either because all the other babies are combo or FF fed ... so they look at my kid like a humorous curiosity for being still mostly BF and slow on solids.

    So what I think I will do is drop from 3 to 2 pumps per day and hang out there for a little while, while working more on solids and sending more solids to daycare, and see what happens. I think you are right about me needing to offer solids more often at home, and offer them before nursing. Although truth be told, solids are so MESSY and time consuming, and I am pretty lazy ... the convenience of nursing really appeals to the lazy side of my personality! He still night nurses a lot so you are right that we have a good safety net there.

    As for offering water, we have tried the sippy cup with water (well, actually it's a straw cup) but LO hasn't figured it out yet. He likes to shake it and mouth it but hasn't figured out the sucking yet. Does that just come with time and experimentation on his part?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: talk to me about pump weaning

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mercystreet View Post
    Believe it or not I have no working-mom-friends in real life who breastfed long enough to get to the 1 year mark and advise me about pump weaning!
    I believe it! Neither do I. That's why I love the forums!

    I like your idea of dropping from 3 pumps to 2. I don't think solids need to be time-consuming, though. I'm lazy too. So I just give LO whatever we're eating (with a few exceptions - I don't give her nuts, for example). Messy, yes - that's life with a toddler! But time-consuming, not really. Actually, while she's feeding herself, it gives me at least a few minutes to eat myself before she's done and wants to be released from her seat.

    Yeah, I think the drinking from a sippy cup/cup with a straw will come in the next month or so. I think my LO got good at it around 13 months. He'll figure it out.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: talk to me about pump weaning

    The other thing to keep in mind is that when they are that old, they are not going to starve if they don't get 1 ounce/hour during the day, even if solids are not totally making up the difference. What matters is what they get over a 24 period, not as much hour-by-hour as when they are younger. They can make up for it at other times of day and/or if they are getting less breastmilk they may start to be "hungrier" for solids. Obviously if you have concerns about whether your child is getting enough nutrition going in, or they seem to really be missing the extra breastmilk during the day, then you might take more care. (And if it's working for you to keep pumping, there's certainly no harm, and there is benefit, but that's not your situation) But in general, you/they will sort it out.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: talk to me about pump weaning

    I know this is a little late, but I wrote an almost identical post 2 months ago as my DS was turning 1. He was taking 12-15 oz a day, and not eating much solids, and I was pumping 3x a day.

    Something happened the week before he turned 1, and his solids intake really took off. It just all seemed to click for him. I had decided that I would drop to 2 pumps once he hit a year, and supplement with the freezer stash. But he dropped to 9 oz a day, which I can support with only 2 pumps. I probably could have pump weaned more by now, but I haven't yet.

    As for the water, we gave DS a sippy with water with solids since we started solids. I don't think he got much out of it, until about 13 months? But it was there if he wanted it.

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