Will my babies (toddlers) cope for 3 days without breastfeeding?
April 2, 2012 4:15 PM   Subscribe

Will my babies (toddlers) cope for 3 days without breastfeeding? Will I accidentally wean them cold turkey?

In six weeks I need to go to a conference across the country. It's just for 2 days, but will probably involve 3 nights away from home due to flight schedules.

I'm worried about leaving my babies (12 month old twin boys) for so long. I've not had a night away from them yet and while I'd love a good night's sleep in a hotel, I'm worried about how they will cope. Their dado will be looking after them and while I am 100% confident that they will be fine with him, the issue is that I am still breastfeeding. They come to me morning noon and night asking for milk (using the sign for milk, it's adorable). They have a bottle of formula at around 10pm each night, but refuse formula during the day. They also wake and get a breastfeed at about 3-4am each morning. I'm reasonably confident that an additional bottle at that time will appease them (or we could use the opportunity to get their papa to wean them from this night feed). We discussed the bubs and the dad coming with me, but he has work to do and doesn't really want to. Plus we really could not afford the flights, they aren't cheap.

Other relevant info:
-I could pump and store a stash, but I have the weird excess lipase thing so my milk doesn't store unless you scald the crap out of it, which kind of negates the whole effort. Plus I don't think I could pump very much these days to make it worthwhile.
-I'm only working 2 days per week at the moment and the bubs go to my work daycare. They love it, are always happy to arrive there and survive perfectly well without their usual lunchtime breastfeed. And as I said they refuse formula.
-They eat a remarkable amount of food each day, including lots of dairy. It's crazy, between them they eat more than me, and I still have my 'I'm breastfeeding twins' appetite.
-They wake quite a bit a night, always have done. We were trying to scrape up the energy up to night wean them, but have just stuck with the status quo for the last 3-4 months as we're finally surviving (mostly) and are too scared to change anything!
-My parents (and his) live a long way away and it would involve multiple flights and many more dollars than we have. Not an option for a grandmother to come along.
-I only just returned to my job at the beginning of March, and I am loving it, and this conference is exactly what my major project needs at the moment.

While they will obviously be physically fine missing a couple of days of milk, I'm worried about how they will cope not having that regular boob/cuddle time. It seems to really re-set their frazzle clocks or something and return them to peaceful happy babies. Will they crave it? Or will I accidentally wean them cold turkey? I don't have any set plans for weaning, was just waiting to see what happened, but I really don't want to just force wean them cold turkey.

Will they be ok? Will they still want to breastfeed on my return?
posted by bingoes to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't make promises, and I'm not a lactation consultant, but I have a friend who left her 15 month old baby for a week and resumed breastfeeding upon returning without a hitch. For my own story, my son weaned 3 months ago when he was 14 months old, and I still have milk. If they already know that nursing is something that happens when mama is around and doesn't happen when she isn't, I suspect they'll be OK.
posted by KathrynT at 4:23 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: As an anecdotal data point, I left my kiddo for about a week for a conference when he was 13 months. I was similarly sad, but he was eating solid food like a trucker (still does) and had transitioned to cow's milk at daycare about a month before. I was sure it would be the end of my supply and just sort of felt like it would end up being a natural stopping point. I ended up bringing a hand pump, more to keep me from getting engorged and pumped a little while I was away. To make the whole thing just that much more traumatic, I wasn't able to get home for a couple of extra days because of the big blizzard on the East Coast.

Once I finally made it back, he signed to nurse and picked up right where he left off. My supply was just fine and we continued for another few months until he sort of self weaned. I know it's so stressful, but I'm sure you will all find a good way through it. Don't be hard on yourself, and they will still come to you for love, cuddles and probably milk once you're back.
posted by goggie at 4:28 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry to interrupt but I just have to shout: mastitis! Whatever you do about the boys, you might want to pump 'n' dump while traveling.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:29 PM on April 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

Pump and dump or you will be in pain and at risk for mastitis.


Resumed boobs after shorter and longer trips without a hitch.

However, if you do actually want to wean now, a trip is a good time to do it.
posted by k8t at 4:37 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Back in November, I left my then-14-month old daughter, for 3 nights (unexpected funeral abroad). She was eating solids and nursing on-demand, including first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. I left on a Thursday afternoon and returned around 1am Sunday morning. We picked up right where we left off when she woke up Sunday morning. I brought my manual pump in case it became necessary to express for my own um comfort. I didn't use it, though I was quite full when Sunday morning rolled around!

So, yeah, it's do-able. She's 18 months old and we're still nursing happily.
posted by ellenaim at 4:40 PM on April 2, 2012

Response by poster: Oh yes, forgot to make it clear that I would make sure to pump n dump regularly while away.

Thanks for the anecdata so far. Very reassuring.
posted by bingoes at 4:42 PM on April 2, 2012

Best answer: My mom's a lactation consultant, so I called and asked her. She says that most likely you and they will be fine, and they won't wean themselves in three days. She recommended pumping and dumping, but it sounds like you're all set on that front.

And she said to high five you for making it to twelve months with twins, so high five.
posted by punchtothehead at 4:50 PM on April 2, 2012 [8 favorites]

Part of the joy upon seeing you when you return will most likely be the whole, "YAY! MOM'S HERE I WANT MILKS!" thing. So there might even be extra nursing out of sheer happiness.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:56 PM on April 2, 2012

I've just finished up a decade of breastfeeding all my children. I left my first for three or four days when she was three months old to go on my honeymoon, she continued nursing for another three years with similar gaps and me pumping minimally. With the last child I was gone quite a bit, up to a week at a time and had no problem with my supply or her re-attaching. I actually got stuck in the UK for a couple of weeks thanks to Eyjafjallajökull and when I came home she hopped right back on like nothing had happened. I did not pump for that child at all, at this point I think my body does not know how to stop producing milk. It is hilarious how everytime I return from an absence I can't tell if my babies are more thrilled to see me or my boobies!
posted by saucysault at 5:44 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

When I returned home from 6 days of pump and dump in the hotel shower, my toddler happily resumed our former before-bed cuddling and nursing without missing a beat. The first couple of mornings he wanted to make sure I was still around before settling into our usual routines.

The hardest thing I had to deal with (in breastfeeding beyond 3 months, then 6 months, then a return to work, then a multi-day absence) was social policing from relatives not in my family of origin, who were extremely forthcoming with their opinions and "honest advice".
posted by thatdawnperson at 6:17 PM on April 2, 2012

Yep, I think you will be fine. Enjoy your alone time in the hotel!
posted by dawkins_7 at 6:43 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Totally fine. My partner was often away for two or three days after our daughter was a year old. I just used cow milk and a sippy cup, we never managed the bottle thing with our two. Our daughter didn't wean until she was 3.5 yrs old (and that only happened because my partner had to get a yellow fever inoculation!)
posted by Cuke at 7:25 PM on April 2, 2012

Best answer: I think they will be totally fine. But you might consider doing one night away first, just to see how it all goes. Your level of stress and so on might be felt by your kids and so first doing one night away might be a good intro (and also help them understand Mommy comes back) - for both of you.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 8:06 PM on April 2, 2012

posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 8:14 PM on April 2, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks so much everyone. It's SO great to hear all your stories of happy travels and even happier reunions.
posted by bingoes at 8:17 PM on April 2, 2012

Best answer: I'm not a parent, but are they too little to make it clear whether they want milk or just to be held? I was thinking that your husband can say:"Mummy isn't here, but---" and then offer the choices of cow's milk or holding.
posted by brujita at 9:39 PM on April 2, 2012

There have been a few incidents of TSA officers not knowing the regulations regarding breastfeeding supplies. You are allowed to take everything you need to pump and dump on a plane in your carry-on baggage. But just in case you get any flack, ask for a supervisor. You will be able to tell that you are talking to a supervisor because he or she will have three stripes on his or her shoulder instead of just one like a regular TSA officer.
posted by Monday at 2:57 AM on April 3, 2012

Best answer: I'm getting ready for my first trip away too, and we've been following Chaussette and the Pussy Cats' recommendation on a smaller scale. My husband has put the baby to bed occasionally, or has gotten up in the night with him, so that the two of them figure out the mechanics of that. Might be even more helpful with twins! We have found that he's MUCH more willing to cuddle daddy without milk, and that a milk free daddy snuggle has about 80% of the defrazzling power of nursing. Not *quite* as good, takes a little longer, but it does help.

Also--you might see if they'll take cow's milk unless you're holding off for allergy reasons. The usual recommendation for that is to wait until 12 months, so you're good there. Formula tastes pretty nasty, so they might accept cow milk at times that they would normally refuse formula.

In another online community I'm in there are a lot of success stories about continuing nursing after trips of up to a couple of weeks, so I bet that you all will be fine. It's not unusual for the kids to go on a boob bonanza for a couple of days after, but it seems to work okay.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:01 AM on April 3, 2012

« Older Fiber fiber fiber...   |   What now? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.