What happens if you have to be away from your baby for a few days?

What happens if you have to be away from your baby for a few days?

There are several reasons why you may have to be away from your baby for a few days. These may be desired or undesired reasons, but if you are breastfeeding, you will probably have questions about what will happen with you, with the baby, and with breastfeeding.

We get asked this topic often, so we have gathered the most frequently asked questions and answers in this article.

How will my baby be doing when I’m gone?

Knowing what will happen and how your baby will react in your absence is hard. But as a general indication, the older the baby is, the easier it should be. It will also be easier for bottle-fed or mixed feeding babies. Of course, there are bound to be difficult moments when caregivers will have a hard time. But if your baby stays with people they know well, they surely will find a way to soothe your baby and take care of all their needs while you are away.

How will they put the baby to sleep or calm my little one down?

This usually worries breastfeeding mothers a lot, and many children only calm down or sleep with the breast. You may worry a lot when you have to be away from your little one, and they have never fallen asleep in any other way than breastfeeding. It may seem that they will not be able to do it. And although it may be hard, your baby will manage to fall asleep or calm down without the breast. If you are going to be away for more than 24 hours, your baby will probably learn to do this with the help of the caregiver. If you have time to plan ahead, try a few days before you are away from your baby to make sure that the person or people who are staying with your little one know the signals they use to transmit what they need in each case. Knowing these little details will help the adult a lot to make the process easier.

Is it possible that my baby weans itself?

Your baby may wean depending on how many days you will be gone. Weaning depends essentially on how many feeds your baby has before you go away. If your baby is feeding a lot at the breast, likely, she will still want to breastfeed when you return. However, if your baby is feeding relatively little when you leave and you are gone for several days, it is more likely that when you return, the baby will have weaned and will no longer want or know how to suckle, having lost the suction reflex.

How long does it take to lose the sucking reflex?

The sucking reflex is unintentional until three months of age. After three months, the reflex is intentional and is maintained if used. This reflex is one of the so-called “archaic reflexes”, meaning they are spontaneous movements or actions that are part of the baby’s natural habits. Therefore, if this reflex is no longer practiced, it fades out and disappears. In older children from the age of one year, if they stop practicing it for a few days, they usually lose this reflex, so they can be weaned with a few days of absence.

How about my breasts, and how do I maintain my milk supply?

This is another very important part of the process; you need to check how your breasts are doing and think about your milk supply. During the process of being away, it will be key to have a breast pump or a good hand expression technique that allows for effective manual milk removal.

It would be best to keep following a pumping rhythm similar to the baby’s feeds, so you can avoid obstructions or mastitis and, at the same time, maintain your milk supply. In addition, it is highly recommended to have an anti-inflammatory medication if you begin to feel pain or if your breasts become too full.

If you cannot pump at a similar rhythm to your baby’s feeds, try to keep pumping every 4-5 hours, especially if you have a baby under one year of age and/or who breastfeeds a lot.

What do I need to do if I want to continue breastfeeding?

If you want to continue breastfeeding, try to maintain your milk supply so that when you return to your baby, she will find the maximum amount of milk flow available again. Make sure you keep pumping day and night. In terms of your baby, if he or she is already taking a bottle when you leave, you can keep this up. But if your baby has never tried a bottle before, the best thing would be to avoid it.

What if I want to wean?

If you have decided to wean your baby from breastfeeding while you are away, there are other aspects to take into account when planning for it:

  • Make sure you remove just the right amount of breastmilk so your breast is not completely “empty” but does not feel uncomfortable.
  • Use anti-inflammatory medication (such as ibuprofen) for a couple of days.
  • Check/touch your breasts during the days you are away.
  • Remember that medication to “dry up milk” is not effective in an established lactation and that the process to decrease milk supply is always as described above.
  • Apply cold if your breasts feel very hot or swollen; this will help you to feel better.

And once you are back, as we do not know if your child will have lost their sucking reflex, avoid offering the breast again as much as possible.

Do you have any more questions?

If you need more information about breastfeeding and motherhood, please download our free app, LactApp, for iPhone or Android. In the contact section of the app, you can find an in-app consultation channel where our experts will answer your questions.

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