Ming has so enjoyed the last few weeks at home with baby Bik. It had taken several weeks to establish breastfeeding, to figure out Bik’s schedule, and to get accustomed to the demands of being a new mom! She is proud of what she has accomplished and “over-the-top” happy with how Bik is doing. Ming worries less and laughs more. Life is more predictable now.
And then Ming returns to work as a breastfeeding mother.
Pumping during the day is going well; however, little Bik seems to take smaller than expected mother’s milk during the day. Though Bik had been getting up only once to eat at night before Ming returned to work, over the first three weeks, Bik nurses off and on throughout the night. By week four, Bik sleeps much of the days and is up 4-5 times at night. Ming is exhausted day and night.
The Science: What’s a three-month-old learning?
While the two-month-old may have been considered the “Settled-In” baby, the three-month-old might be seen as the “Looking Out” baby. She is a keen observer and a great explorer of the world. Perhaps her attention to this outer world causes her to be even more aware that life is different when mother returns to work.
When mothers return to work, their babies sometimes develop “Reverse Night Feeding,” a situation in which the baby increases the frequency of nighttime breastfeeding and decreases the frequency of daytime feeding. Some mothers prefer to have their baby feed more at night so that less pumping is required at work. However, other mothers may be exhausted by this new feeding pattern and might well need your help to re-establish previous day/night feeding cycles.
Because the baby who has “Reverse Night Feeding” is now consuming more calories at night, she will be hungry if her mother suddenly eliminates these extra nighttime feedings. Here are some tips to help resolve “Reverse Night Feeding”:
- Consider “Mommy and Me” time when you return from work. Your undivided attention can calm both you and your baby—and ease the strain that you both feel from separation during the day.
- Increase breastfeeding to “stock up” for the night.
- Over a week, decrease by half the amount of time you breastfeed at each nighttime feeding. This strategy will slowly shift the calories back to the daytime, when baby can be given more of your pumped milk.
- Parents can use comforting techniques other than breastfeeding: rocking, back patting, repetitive “shooshing” can help.
- Your partner can go at re-settling the baby after a shorter period of breastfeeding. Babies will often go down more comfortably when they don’t continue to smell mother’s breast milk.
“Ah-Ha” Moment: How The HUG’s information helps this mother…
Since Ming’s sister had a similar challenge when she first returned to work, she makes the suggestions mentioned above. Ming slowly cut down the amount of time she nursed during the night and within a week Bik returned to waking up only once at night to eat. Ming especially enjoys “Mommy and Me” time each evening and in only a week Ming is well on her way to solving her problem.
Breastfeeding Tips for This Month
Here is a sample of a three-month-old’s breastfeeding schedule from a stay-at-home mom and from a working mother.
© HUG Your Baby 2019