Breastfeeding moms know the supply struggle is real — there is always a point where they end up questioning the quantity of their milk supply, or the timing of their feedings. Lactation support providers often suggest following a baby-led nursing schedule, but sometimes you may miss or skip a nursing session. Knowing what to do if you miss a feeding can help ease any guilt or worry you have over that extra-long nap or quick grocery shopping trip that cut into your baby's schedule.
Every mom is bound to miss a feeding at some point, so honestly, it's nothing to worry about.Missing or skipping multiple feedings, however, can impact your milk supply over time, so it's important to know how lactation actually works.
Because breastfeeding is all about supply, demand, and nipple stimulation, International Boad Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Tera Hamann says in an interview with Romper, skipping feedings or pumping sessions can signal your body to slow down your milk production.
There's an actual science behind it. IBCLC Julie Gladney tells Romper that when you do not remove milk adequately from the breast (via feeding or pumping), a polypeptide called Feedback Inhibitor of Lactation (FIL) is produced, which stalls lactation, in turn decreasing the supply.
If you do skip or miss a feeding, don't panic. IBCLC Tania Archibold says in an interview with Romper that if you are in the early months of lactating, one missed feeding will probably just make you uncomfortable, so you will need to pump or express milk to ease the fullness. If you are in the later stages of breastfeeding, Archibold says that your breasts may not feel as full, but it really depends on the age of the baby and your physiology.
I breastfed both of my babies for two years, and there were times that I had to miss a feeding. I usually just pumped as soon as I could, and kept breastfeeding whenever the babies needed it. I don't think missing one feeding or pumping session will make a huge difference, but over time, a series of missed feedings will likely impact your milk supply. If you have any concerns or questions about breastfeeding, it's a good idea to talk to a lactation consultant, who can give you the support and answers you need.