Parents Often Ask – I Am Returning To Work Soon And AmWorried About The Impact Of This Change On My Son’s Fluid Intake and Our Breastfeeding Relationship
I will be returning to work soon and my 1-year-old gets most of his fluids from breastfeeding. With me returning to work, I’m in a panic that he will not be drinking enough while I’m away from him! Furthermore, I can barely pump any more breast milk which makes me concerned that not only will he not have my milk to drink during the day, but that my supply is going down. Should I be worried!?
When you are not around, your son will probably adjust his caloric and fluid intake by increasing solids (which are >80% water) and/or his water/milk intake. Some kids are rather tenacious and resist all fluids, choosing, instead, to wait for mom to come home after which they make up for lost time by feeding more at the breast. Keep in mind that it takes a good 24-48 hours of absolutely no liquid and solid intake before dehydration becomes an issue.
Way more important than how much breast milk he gets is how happy he is at the breast. If your son remains happy at the breast during your transition back to work, then it’s all good. On the other hand, some mothers, after returning to work, notice that as the frequency of breastfeeding goes down, so, too, does the milk production and flow at the breast. In this circumstance, the child can get fussy and irritable when breastfeeding. A child who is unsatisfied at the breast is unlikely to continue breastfeeding for much longer. If your goal is to breastfeed beyond 1 year, then this presents a real problem because there is, in this case, a real risk of the breastfeeding relationship coming to an end. So persistent fussiness at the breast means consult with a lactation consultant or a physician with expertise in lactation medicine.