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110. Reverse Cycling: When Your Baby Breastfeeds More Often At Night

Your baby is sleeping well at night, you return to work and your baby starts feeding more frequently again. Does this sound familiar? It's called Reverse Cycling and I'm sharing my top 3 tips on how to work through this phase with ease. 

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*This podcast is not "medical advice". Please consult with your Healthcare Provider about your specific situation.

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts here. 


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Participant #1:
Welcome to the Breezy Babies podcast, where we talk about all things boobs, babies and breastfeeding. This is episode 110, reverse cycling. I'm breath the IBCLC and I made Brisbies with you in mind to help ease your transition into parenthood. Becoming a parent changes your life in every way imaginable. Bumps in the road are going to come up as you move into your new role, but my goal is to help smooth out those bumps and help you become the most confident parent you can be. With good education and support, I know you can meet your breastfeeding and parenting goals. Let's do this together. Hey, friends, it's Brie, back and ready for another Breezy Babies podcast episode. I'm so glad to be with you today. I am in a new and different closet. It might sound a little bit different. We are away on a little staycation as a family. My husband, believe it or not, had twelve weeks of paternity leave after our last baby was born and we didn't use it right after she was born because this is our fourth baby and he works from home. So it felt kind of silly to take twelve weeks right after she was born. So he did take some time. But we've been using his paternity leave all throughout the first year of her life, which is so great and so crazy because he's had the same job with all of our kids and this is the first time he's ever had twelve weeks of paternity leave. So we're just enjoying a little stay. Just we're an hour from our house, but yet it feels like a totally different world. Do you ever feel like just not being in your house just brings the stress levels down? I'm not like, oh, I should be doing this, or I should be cleaning this. Just like, let's just hang out and play some games, watch a show. And I don't know, it seems like the house that we're staying in doesn't get as messy as our home does. I don't know what it is. So hope you're having a great summer wherever you are. Or if you're listening to this later, I hope you're just having a great week. I wanted to start this podcast episode with reading you a review. It's from Amber. Amber, I'm going to say your last name wrong. I kind of was wondering if I wanted to even try and say it. I think I'm going to mess it up. Amber fancutch is how it came through for your review. And this is what she said. Brian was incredibly helpful and listened to all my concerns. I'm at the end of my breastfeeding journey and my main goal is to wean, but I would recommend her during any phase of your breastfeeding journey. Thankful for people like her who care and understand what mothers go through. Isn't that so cool? What I love about doing consultations is I meet with parents at all ends of the spectrum in their lactation journey. So in this example, I met with this client at the very end of her breastfeeding journey for the first time. She just needed help with weaning and lactation consultants totally help with that as well. So, of course I would have loved to work with her throughout her entire journey, but I loved being able to connect with her even at the very end. So it's so funny how things go with consults lately. I've kind of been on this solid streak of clients with oversupply. All my clients just seem to have oversupply, like so much milk. Choking babies at the breast can't slow the flow, just uncomfortable, very full, very swollen breasts. And it's just been a definite theme. I don't know what the next wave of things is going to be, but that just seems to be what almost all my consults are about lately. So I do want to get into the topic for today, which is reverse cycling. You may not know what that is. That's okay. If you don't know what reverse cycling is, I will explain it in a minute. But first, I want to tell you that if you have not already gone onto my website and checked for free consultations through your insurance, then why not? It takes just a few minutes. It's free, it's easy to do, and if you're approved, you get at least six free consults with me. So you can always click the link in the show notes of this podcast episode, or if you go to, whether you click on in person if you are local to Northern Utah, or click Telehealth if you live anywhere in the world. And there's a link where you can first check to see if your insurance covers free consults. And it just always makes my day every time someone is covered for free consultations. And it's been so busy lately. I don't usually do more than six consults a week just because I still have very young kids and I don't have a nanny, dang it. Or a house cleaner or anything like that. This last week, though, I did eight consults in one week. That was a mix of both in person and telehealth, and it was crazy. So busy. But I'm loving it. It's been so great. And Lex on my team, she helps with consult as well for crazy weeks, four weeks where I'm out of town and we work closely together. If she ever has questions about a client that she met with, we can talk about it and put our heads together and just make sure that everyone has the best care of plan possible. There you have it. I do want to talk to you about reverse cycling. This was, I'm pretty sure, a topic that was suggested by one of my followers. Let's just start with the definition, because if you're not familiar with the lactation world, you might be thinking, what the heck is reverse cycling. So basically this just means that your baby is wanting to suddenly feed frequently overnight. Okay? So maybe they were going longer stretches during the night, but all of a sudden they just want to feed, feed, feed all night, and they're getting the bulk of their calories, the bulk of their milk intake during the night rather than during the day. So a newborn is not reverse cycling because newborns just come out and they feed more frequently through the night. And that's just how it is. So reverse cycling refers to older babies, okay? Babies who were going longer stretches and now just want to wake up and eat, eat, and their parents are pulling out their hair and going a little crazy. This can be really common with distracted babies, but I see it most often with babies who are separated from their mom all day while she's at work. That's the most common example that I see. So for this podcast, I'm really going to focus on working with families who are separated from their baby during the day. But first, I want to ask you this question. It's an important question. Can a baby under twelve months self wean? What do you think? Can a baby under twelve months self wean? My answer would be no, because guess what? A baby's main source of nutrition in the first year of life is breast milk. And it is very rare for a baby to self lean before 18 months. OK, 18 months. It's very rare for a baby to self wean. But do you know what is really common? Distracted babies. Babies are so very easily distracted, and I find that distraction especially starts around four or five months and peaks around eight or nine months. And it is a struggle when you are trying to nurse a distracted baby, or at least it can be. In fact, you know what? I think we should talk about this on a future podcast episode. What do you think? But for now, just know that if your baby is distracted, that's normal. And know your baby cannot just fill up on solids instead. I talk more about that on my starting Solids podcast episode, which was a more recent episode. But this topic does take us into tip number one, which is offer the breast frequently. Again, tip number one is offer the breast frequently. It's okay if there are periods of time that your baby wants short, frequent sessions that can happen through times of distraction, times of sickness, times where your supply dips, and also through times of reverse cycling, which happens to be the topic for today. I have clients all the time that say, oh, I read online that my baby needs to feed for 15 minutes on each breast, every feed, and we're not fitting into that perfect little box. What are we doing wrong? Well, you're probably not doing anything wrong at all. It's just that not every baby feeds for 15 minutes on each breast. And as your baby grows, the amount of time that she feeds will change all the time. They usually get more efficient and they get quicker and efficient over time. But there will be times when your baby is sick or congested and maybe just happens to need longer feeds for comfort. Or maybe even your baby needs shorter fees because they're too tired and their throat hurts. Would you believe that both of those are possibilities and just a phase to work through? It's fine. Follow your baby's cues, continue to listen for swallows at the breast, and watch for good wet and poopy diapers. Check in for weight and length with your pediatrician or your healthcare provider. There's a good chance that you will work through this phase of short, frequent feeds quickly and get back to your normal routine. Specifically, in regards to reverse cycling. You will be offering the breast frequently in the night when you are reunited with your baby. All right, let's move to tip number two. Don't waste breast milk with reverse cycling. You will quickly realize that your baby just isn't getting through the breast milk that you're leaving behind. Maybe you plan to leave 3oz for every feed, just as an example, and your baby is only taking 3oz total while you're away, and you leave your baby at daycare or with your caregiver. Remember, once breast milk is thawed, you have to use it within 24 hours. And none of us like to waste breast milk. In fact, I'm pretty sure that a fairy dies or something every time breast milk is poured down the drain. Okay, just kidding. But you know what I mean. We work hard for that liquid gold, whether you overproduce or underproduce, and it seriously sucks to see it go to waste. PS. Yes. If you've already listened to my previous podcast episode on how to never waste another drop of breast milk, you're just saying right now, oh, but you could just use it for a milk bath. And you're right, if you haven't listened to that podcast episode, go back and catch that one. It's a good one. But let's just say for this example that I'm giving you your adjusting effort with not a lot of extra breast milk to spare. Maybe you can't afford to have multiple ounces every day go towards a milk bath. Does that sound like you? So if so, you would want to send less milk with your baby to daycare or your caregiver, and you would want to send less milk with them until you work through this phase of reverse cycling. Now, you might at this point be wondering, how long can this last? How long does this phase last? Well, we don't know. It could be 24 hours. It could be days or weeks or months or the whole time that you work. We just don't know. I do love this quote, though. It goes like this. If you prefer to pump less milk while you're away from your baby, you may choose to encourage baby to reverse cycle. Okay. It's kind of interesting, right? So basically what this is saying is that reverse cycling isn't inherently bad. It's not inherently a horrible option for you and your baby. So if you're listening to this and you're like, hey, my baby does feed more frequently through the night and I don't mind, I kind of like being reunited with my baby. I don't like to pump a lot of milk during the day while I'm away at work, then cool. Reverse cycling works very well for you and you can stick with it and even encourage it with your baby. All right, let's move on to tip number three make night feeds work. Now, you can quickly guess that if your baby isn't taking in as many ounces during the day, that needs to be made up for during the night to get at least 24oz in 24 hours. Now, that just applies if your baby is over one month old. PS. You will need to feed more frequently at night, but you most likely will also need to sleep better at night so that you can get up the next day and go to work again and be a functioning human. So what to do? Well, my first suggestion would be to utilize the side lying position at night and possibly even bed sharing or cosleeping, whatever you feel comfortable with previous podcast episodes on co sleeping as well and the studies behind that. But if you were doing sideline bed sharing, coast sleeping, a combination of those, one of those. That way your baby can latch on while you still catch some z's. Also, when you're back home together in the evenings, offer the breath frequently before you even go to bed. Maybe you can even babywear and give your baby unrestricted access to just nurse on demand as you move about the house or go on a walk or do whatever you need to do. I also loved this quote that I found while I was preparing for this podcast episode and it said, be patient, try not to stress about it. Consider it a compliment. Baby prefers you. That's kind of cute, right? Like, really? All reverse cycling is that your baby prefers you. Your baby prefers to get breast milk on top and not drink from a bottle all day. So that is kind of cute but also kind of frustrating. I get it. But hopefully from this podcast episode, you have some ideas to make your reverse cycling experience a bit more breezy. And also just a reminder that if you are a working mom, why do you not already have a personalized pumping plan? Girl, let me make one for you. It is worth every penny. Plus, if you're approved for free, consult through your insurance. Like I was explaining at the beginning of this podcast episode, we can use one of your free consults to make a personalized pumping plan for returning to work. Also, if you purchase a pumping plan on my website,, you can also pay with a healthcare spending account or flex spending account or any other major payment. So there you have it again, those top three tips for reverse cycling. Number one was offer the breast more frequently. Number two, don't waste breast milk. And number three, make night feeds work. You are amazing. Thank you so much for coming and listening in to my podcast episode this day. I love spending time with you and of course I'm going to leave you with. You are strong, you are smart, you're beautiful, you're a good friend. All, catch you next time.

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