After months of sleepless nights, you finally got "used to" your new routine. Your milk supply already adjusted to your baby's demands, and breastfeeding seems to go well with you two.
Suddenly, one night your baby decided to sleep a longer stretch. Then, the night after.
You're not sure if it's time to celebrate or start preparing for the "new routine." The truth is that if something you've learned in the past few months is that there's no such a thing as "routine." Whenever you think everything is under control, your little one says it's time to hit a milestone, and here we're, again, confused.
The first year of a human being is all about change. Growth is fast. It is the time when our brains make the most connections.
Every time our little ones hit a milestone, their lives change, and they evolve. Learning to sit, crawl, walk, discovering their extremities is all a new and exciting experience for them [and for us to watch.] For that reason, we can't expect a baby to behave the same way as a few months -or weeks- back.
But before I deviate too much from the topic, many mothers ask what to do once their babies begin sleeping longer stretches at night. Some believe they should pump instead to preserve their milk supply; others enjoy their sleep vacation.
Our bodies are wise, so as our baby's. When a baby spontaneously decides not to wake up anymore to eat, it's because he doesn't need it anymore. As a result, the mother's body will adjust to that new pattern. And yes, milk supply will decrease as the baby's demand decreases too. That's how synchronized your bodies are.
Now, I must say, sometimes your body may need a few days to get used to, even if your baby made the first step. In that case, you may find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with two huge breasts, praying for your baby to wake up soon to give you some relief. Ironic, ha?
Don't get desperate. Give your body some time to adjust. In the meantime, yes, you may pump to relieve the pressure. But do it just to the point you feel comfortable and not drain your breasts completely, as that will keep stimulating your breasts to produce more. Every night, reduce the time of pumping until you don't need it anymore.
You know your body better than anyone; you know when the pressure is off, and you can go back to sleep. Does that make sense?
On the other hand, if you're trying to build a milk bank and you're struggling to make time to pump, this could be an excellent opportunity to do it. At night your prolactin levels are higher, so you're likely to pump a fair amount of milk for your freezer stock.
Keep in mind that if your intention is not to save any milk for later, the best you can do is allow your body to adjust to your baby's new routine.