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Note: I realize that this topic – switching from exclusively pumping to formula feeding – is something that probably interests or applies to a very small percentage of readers.  While there is information about this online, I found very few personal, detailed accounts.  Exclusive pumpers are a small group, and exclusive pumpers who decide to wean early with a complete supply are even rarer.  I wanted to write about my experience so other women going through this transition can find support and information – not just from me, but hopefully in the comments section, too.

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For an explanation of how I reached this decision after 8 months of breastfeeding/exclusively pumping, check out this post.

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The Plan:  When I decided to stop pumping, I wanted the physical process to be over.  Many people suggested dropping a pump every week for five weeks, but once I decided to do it, I wanted to do it as quickly as safely possible.  Also, I am going to be traveling a lot for work in the next few weeks and would rather not be pumping in airports. 

 

My mother stopped breastfeeding me when I was three weeks old; she did it by stopping cold turkey.  The idea of just stopping makes my toes curl.  It would be so painful, and I know it puts you at risk for mastitis.  So that was never an option for me.

 

On the first day of stopping, I pumped my usual number of times (five) but stopped right before I was completely empty.  I counted how many ounces I pumped each time and created a chart in my phone.  I planned to never pump more than that number of ounces for that specific pump moving forward. 

 

On the second day, I reduced my total number of ounces by four, pumped the same reduced amount on the third day, pumped seven less overall on the fourth day, and pumped ten less on the fifth day.  The first four days were the worst.  Actually, it was horrible.  It gave me flashbacks of after-birth engorgement.  I was full of knots, swollen, leaking, and in pain (I really cannot imagine stopping cold turkey).  On the fifth day, however, things kind of began to level out, and I could tell that I was really producing less milk. 

 

Also, on the fourth day, I started to spread the pumps out so I could drop a pump.  I dropped my mid-afternoon pump first.  Today is the sixth day of stopping, and I hope to only do three pumps total, dropping the mid-morning pump.  I think I will be completely done in another week or so.

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Extras:  There are loads of ‘tricks’ to help reduce supply. I have been avoiding hot showers and trying not to direct the spray directly on my chest.  The research on cabbage leaf compresses is minimal, but anecdotal reports insist it helps reduce supply.  I tried it during the first few days, and it seemed to work (at the very least, the cold was soothing).  I did feel really silly with cabbage stuffed into my bra.  I have been wearing a firm sports bra but not binding my breasts (again, you can get mastitis). When my engorgement was really bad, I took Sudafed to help reduce my supply; the drug is considered moderately safe for the breastfed baby, so I felt okay taking it when truly necessary and just didn’t over do it.

 

I have also read that sage tea helps reduce supply; I ordered this tea off Amazon.com but my credit card got screwed up, and my order was canceled.  I’d love to know what others think of sage tea.

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Complications:  Stopping has definitely interrupted my sleep.  My breasts woke me up the first three nights (I was so miserable).  Weaning has also interfered with my ability to exercise (not a big deal, but I’m just noting it).  I only point these things out in case you’re planning to wean and are really busy at work or have a big race coming up – wean when you don’t have a lot going on because it’s going to suck up your entire life.

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Emotions:  Feeeeeelings.  Everybody’s got feeeeelings.  And mine are in full swing this week thanks to my hormones, which I’m sure are going crazysauce.  Stopping breastfeeding is a horrible emotional rollercoaster.   I was a miserable witch for the first three days because of the pain.  I felt gross and disgusting (leaking milk everywhere does that to you).  When my supply finally started to drop a bit, I felt better, but I still feel pretty sad.

 

The worst is the guilt.  I thought I had fully come to turns with stopping (see this post) but now that I’m in the process of stopping, watching my supply tank, and occasionally offering formula, I feel so bad.  The Mommy Guilt is strong, you know?  I’m really trying hard to let it gooooo, but that is difficult.  I feel guilty that he’s eating formula even though I logically know it’s perfectly okay, I feel guilty for ‘quitting,’ I feel REALLY guilty that I had a full supply and am stopping for ‘selfish reasons.’  And no matter how much I tell myself that he’s eight months old, formula is fine, I am not ‘quitting’ but choosing to stop, and it’s okay to transition to this new stage… I still feel bad.  Just trying to keep it real and be honest.  I wish I could say, “YAY I AM 100% COOL WITH THIS DECISION” but I’m not and I doubt I will ever be.  That sucks. 

 

Part of me knows that it’s not too late to turn back.  I could get my supply up again (most likely) and keep pumping.  I keep considering this over and over again.  But then I remember all the reasons that I wanted to stop in the first place, and I falter.  It was so hard to make this decision in the first place, and now that I’ve made it, it’s hard to go back on my choice.  I guess it’s just hard all around.   

 

I did have a big talk about weaning with some of my mommy friends yesterday at our meet-up.  One of my friends choose to wean her son at eight months, too, and talking to her really helped (hearing from you guys helps a lot, too – thanks for the e-mails and comments).  It’s good to have the support from my friends and family because my hormones are imploding right now, and it’s difficult to shore up my own sense of encouragement.

 

So.  That’s my totally honest reporting on stopping.  It’s been a trying week, but it is getting physically easier, and hopefully, when this is all over, I will be able to look back and feel okay with my choice.  Fingers crossed. 

{ 148 comments }

 

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  • Heather From KC February 22, 2013, 2:56 pm

    Only you know what is right for you and your family. I don’t think mommy guilt ever goes away. I did not breast feed, but I did the cabbage leaves when my milk came in and it did seem to help. I support your decision no matter what it is. You go girl!!!

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 22, 2013, 2:58 pm

      This comment made me want to cry for some reason (HORMONES)… thank you!

      Reply
  • Tracey February 22, 2013, 2:58 pm

    You are an awesome mom. You are an awesome mom. You are an awesome mom. You are an awesome mom. That is all. :)

    Reply
    • Jamie February 23, 2013, 4:21 pm

      all together now: YOU ARE AN AWESOME MOM!

      just wanted to second that :)

      Reply
  • Kelley February 22, 2013, 2:59 pm

    Hugs to you, Caitlin. You’re doing an AMAZING job with the choices you are making. These are hard, hard, hard choices and I really appreciate you sharing them. I stopped BFing when baby was 8 months as well. I was sad for a few days too, but it does get better. Good luck!

    I wrote about ending breastfeeding on my blog if anyone else is interested in another story too: http://kelocity.com/2013/01/28/the-end-of-an-era/

    Reply
  • Jessica R @ fromthekitchentotheroad February 22, 2013, 3:05 pm

    I really appreciate how honest you have been about all of this. Thank you so much for sharing. I am not a mom yet but it is on my mind. This is helpful for the future when I deal with these important decisions.

    Reply
  • Anne Weber-Falk February 22, 2013, 3:09 pm

    I did not BF my first child. He was formula fed. I was told to wear a good supportive bra and take hot showers to relieve the “discomfort”. I thought I was going to explode. When I first got into the shower and the water hit my very engorged breasts the milk came out like a geyser. It took a few days and then got better.
    My second child was breastfed and she decided to wean herself at eight months. This time around was not so uncomfortable because Emma’s self weaning was gradual. It was tough on me mentally though. I wasn’t ready to have her do this.

    Reply
  • Lori February 22, 2013, 3:09 pm

    i am wishing you peace with your decision. i know it was a hard one. you wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t what was right for you. Henry will be perfectly fine. you are not forsaking him by making this decision. you need to do what’s best for you, and you aren’t hurting anyone by doing it. i say dont turn back. you will probably regret it, after all the torment you’ve put yourself thru to come to where you are now. You are an awesome mom!

    Reply
  • Carla February 22, 2013, 3:14 pm

    I just stopped breast feeding at 12 months and I first I did feel sad too! But honestly you will start feeling better. Give it a week or so longer! You are an amazing mommy and Henry is lucky to have you! Don’t beat yourself up-even though I know it’s hard! I think there is always mommy guilt but us mamas need to help each other out! You are doing a great job! Thanks for being so honest and real! We need that :)

    Reply
  • Abby February 22, 2013, 3:21 pm

    If you think your hormones are crazy now, watch out! Most moms I’ve talked (myself included) have experienced crazy hormonal fluctuations for the first 4-6 weeks after completely weaning. It was almost like a small episode of delayed post partum depression, just a warning, wish I would have known it was coming!

    Reply
    • MissPinkKate February 22, 2013, 5:15 pm

      I started nesting, something I never did while I was pregnant. It was awesome!

      Reply
      • Abby February 22, 2013, 8:20 pm

        That sounds wayyyy more pleasant haha

        Reply
  • Kattrina February 22, 2013, 3:23 pm

    This post made me cry a little (or a lot). I totally support you and your decision to not breastfeed – I think it’s a completely personal choice and I think that you made the right decision for you and your family. So it’s not about that at all.

    I will say that I am completely jealous of how much milk you have. I pump three times a day when I’m at work and each week I can see my levels of milk decreasing and I am terrified that I don’t have enough milk to go for much longer (and my son isn’t even six months yet). No matter what I try, I can’t get my supply to increase and it makes me so sad. I sure wish we could have switch boobs for a while!

    I’m glad the process is almost over for you. I really can’t believe it took that long and that it was so painful! Extra kudos for making it through. Hugs for you!

    Reply
  • Vivian February 22, 2013, 3:24 pm

    You are a great mommy, that’s why you feel guilty – it was clearly a struggle to make the decision. As a breastfeeding mother (18 months for baby 1, 8 1/2 months and still going strong for baby 2), I’ve never judged a mother who has decided to not nurse or to wean. Breastfeeding is a very personal decision and we, as mothers, do what we feel is best for our family – and that’s the right choice. I applaud your efforts and support your decision.

    Reply
  • Alicia February 22, 2013, 3:26 pm

    I really love hearing from you. You are so candid with your posts and it is great. I feel like your honesty is a total public service. Henry is one lucky kid to have a mom that thinks so thoroughly, and weighs things so honestly and doesn’t just blindly do things. :)

    Reply
  • Amy February 22, 2013, 3:29 pm

    Sometimes the guilt is productive, you know? I think we were given those animal instincts for a reason. If your body and heart are telling you to keep feeding your baby with your milk, it might mean that nature is trying to tell you something. Just food for thought.

    Reply
    • AnotherAmy February 23, 2013, 8:22 am

      x2!

      Reply
      • Casey February 23, 2013, 2:29 pm

        My thoughts too. Im just sad thinking that you might never be at peace w this decision. Changing your mind is okay. But if you dont, Try to find peace.

        Reply
  • diana@frontyardfoodie February 22, 2013, 3:35 pm

    Oh hormones… They’re such a bitch . I don’t know if you read ‘a cup of jo’ but she also weaned at eight to months and wrote a piece on how difficult the hormonal after math was. She didn’t put together that it was caused by weaning though and wanted to put her experience out there for ladies who might go through the same thing. Very good read. I hope you manage to wean without that but thought I’d share just in case.

    I am glad you didn’t get mastitis! I have so many friends who do (I haven’t yet either) and it seems so rough. Hope things keep getting better!

    Reply
  • Daria February 22, 2013, 3:41 pm

    Hang in there, it’ll get better! I remember feeling this sadness/guilt when I was weaning my son, even though I thought I was confident with my decision. The thing is, you’d still feel sad even if you were weaning at 10 months, or 12 or 24. It’s just our mommy emotions. I think you’re doing great!

    Reply
  • Eli's Mom February 22, 2013, 3:42 pm

    My milk didn’t last the length I expected it to last so I have to switch the little one at around 4 months to FF. There were nights when I still let him suck on me (even though I know I was almost empty) but he then figured out that there’s nothing coming out and that his food now comes from the bottle sitting on top of the night stand by the gliding chair where we feed. :(( I tried to pump to keep the supply up but nothing was coming out (1 oz on lucky days). I know how that guilt felt but I now know and feel confident that I did my best and is still doing my best for the little one. I admire you for sticking it out (for 8 months). You are an awesome mom! :)

    Reply
  • Zulkey February 22, 2013, 3:50 pm

    Good luck, Caitlin, thanks for sharing. I was just talking to a friend of mine about how I thought somehow I maybe willed myself not to get milk since it didn’t come in until several days after I had the baby. I really thought I dodged a bullet until a friend came over and said “Can you believe you’re a mom? You made this. This is your little boy. I can’t believe it.” I started crying and then **sproing**, there I started going. It was so weird. Then I got to sleep in a sports bra for three weeks and try to avoid getting my tits in the hot water in the shower. Good times.

    Reply
  • Jen February 22, 2013, 3:55 pm

    I stopped at 6 months. I mixed formula and breastmilk from 4-6 months (I had low supply all along) and by 6 months my supply was so gone it wasn’t even worth it. I cried. And I felt guilty. And then a few days later I was like, “Damn this formula makes things easy.” LOL! Hope you get to that point soon.

    Reply
  • Mari February 22, 2013, 3:58 pm

    I was like you. I pumped exclusively to give breast milk to my son. We had some issues. You’re doing this the right way, because it is the way that works for you. You aren’t doing this for selfish reasons. If you think about it, you are doing everything for the benefit of your family so you need to take the next logical step. You are a great mom.

    Reply
  • Bobbie February 22, 2013, 3:59 pm

    Like you, breastfeeding did not come easily for me. I tried pretty much everything and it just wasn’t working for me. We couldn’t latch properly, she would pop off constantly…you name it, we had trouble with it. I ended up pumping exclusively for 6 months before I decided after beating myself up over and over again that I needed to stop pumping. I had a bit of a supply so I was able to slowly move her onto formula. Anyway, your feelings about your decision will get better and Henry will be fine and no one is judging you. At least I’m not ;) With my other two daughters I breast fed for a shorter period of time. Again, I just had a really hard time making it work for me though I saw many of my friends do it like it was 2nd nature. My girls are now 8, 7 and 4 and they are very healthy and happy girls. I hope this makes you feel a little better, knowing 1. that you’re not alone and 2. that Henry will be just as healthy and happy and 3. you are not being judged.
    I’ve enjoyed reading all your posts about Henry over the last 8 months…He’s a cutie and I think you are doing a great job!

    Reply
    • Rachel February 22, 2013, 6:22 pm

      Along those lines, I was a formula only baby because I was a punk and wouldn’t nurse. And you know what, I turned out just fine! I think my mom nursed my younger siblings, but every child is different and the place you personally are in with each child will be different. btw, Henry is adorable. Well done.

      Reply
  • Ann February 22, 2013, 4:01 pm

    I’m going through the exact same process (weaning from exclusive pumping) right now, and am thankful for your post on what to expect and that we aren’t alone. I imagine an army of supportive moms helping each other through the mommy guilt and hormonal swings, and it makes me feel better!

    Reply
  • Callina February 22, 2013, 4:11 pm

    Good luck with weaning! I’m breast-feeding my 6 month old with no plans for stopping just yet but occasionally we have to supplement with formula due to supply vs. appetite issues :) If you don’t mind sharing I’d like to know what kind of formula you are using?

    Reply
  • Jackie February 22, 2013, 4:16 pm

    So are you still pumping 4x/day? Has your overall supply decreased (so – are you producing less EACH session?) or is your 1st one of the day still big after a 12-hour night?

    As my way to wean off the pump, I’ve been dropping sessions gradually over the past 2 months. I’m at 2 now (morning & night). But I still pump A LOT of milk at both of those. I should stop completely emptying them (like you did) and then see if they start naturally producing less. The thought of only pumping one time a day seems insane. (But I guess back when I was pumping 6x/day, the thought of 2 a day seemed insane, too.) Good luck! Keep us posted!

    Also – side note – I wonder what it will be like when you’re totally done?! Like, will you hook up to the pump & nothing will come out? Or will you just decide one day, “I’m done – I don’t need to pump anymore.” So exciting!! I know I personally can’t WAIT to be done!!

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 22, 2013, 4:25 pm

      i’m down to 3 now, i’m pumping about 18 ounces today today.

      Reply
      • Linda February 22, 2013, 4:33 pm

        You’ll have milk for a while after you are able to stop pumping/breastfeeding. I stopped breastfeeding my daughter after 12 months and when she was 14 months old if my breast was squeezed in the shower milk would still come out.

        Reply
  • Meredith February 22, 2013, 4:17 pm

    This post made me tear up. I am in a similar spot with a little guy a few weeks older than Henry, and I weened from exclusive pumping at 7 months. It does get better, but … damn that Mommy Guilt is STRONG and the hormones are crazy. Several nights of looking at my husband and bursting into tears for no reason. We tried to make the best of it and laugh it out and talk about all of the other ways that I provide for the little guy. The honesty in your posts is great, and it is SO nice to see people in a similar situation pop up in the comments.

    Reply
  • Marci February 22, 2013, 4:18 pm

    You will long forget the woes when you’re done and he starts doing something else cool. And the freedom! The clothes you can wear again!

    Reply
  • Katie February 22, 2013, 4:26 pm

    I weaned my first child at 8 months because my supply had dried up and nothing helped rebuild it. I had all the same emotions you’re having, plus some feeling of inadequacy. Once weaning was over for me, though, it seemed the emotional baggage was left behind. That phase of motherhood was over for me, and yet I discovered my baby and I were on to the next phase together! It was wonderful to be shed of the burden of struggling with my failing supply, and I’d imagine in your situation you’ll feel lightened by not managing your life around pumping. I hope you start to feel better soon, and I bet all the very good reasons you decided to stop pumping will pay off in the ways you anticipated. Hang in there.

    Reply
  • Ashley February 22, 2013, 4:30 pm

    You’re right, this topic applies to very few people…but your motherhood posts, whether they apply to me or not, are my favorite part of HTP. I’ve been reading for years because I love how down to earth and candid you are, and the pregnancy/parenthood just makes me love your blog more. Please keep posting about anything and everything, because more people should say the hard truths without feeling like it’s wrong!

    Reply
  • Laura February 22, 2013, 4:35 pm

    I really love your honesty Caitlin. It must be difficult to discuss such personal issues publicly but I am sure you are helping many women reading. Personally, I am far from motherhood but I imagine if I was making a similar decision as you I would appreciate reading this.
    However, I can relate to the overall feeling of sadness you may feel right now. It’s like you know you are sad but don’t want to be. Remind yourself that this feeling will pass! You will feel back to your old self again soon, don’t worry.
    And know in your heart that you are doing the right thing. It may seem physically unnatural right now but you are following your instinct. Trust your decision and don’t harp on the “what if’s”.
    I wish you luck! :D

    Reply
  • Danielle February 22, 2013, 4:37 pm

    I know you want to be done as soon as possible but in my opinion and compared to my experience you are kind of rushing it, and I think it will only serve to make it more difficult for you. It took me about 4-5 weeks and I weaned from exclusively pumping pretty comfortably over that time. The trick is getting your body to adjust a bit before you drop MORE — I also think that’s probably whats making your hormone shift harder. And lets face it, its hard enough without the hormones.

    To be blunt, cut yourself some slack and dont rush it— weaning is a process just like pregnancy is and you have to make sure your body is ready. In the scheme of things if you have to hang on to 2 pumping sessions a day for an extra week to give yourself time to recover is that really the wrost thing?

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 22, 2013, 4:41 pm

      You are right. There is an extreme way and a gentle way to do it and I think I’m somewhere in the middle. In hindsight, I think I’m over the worst bit at least.

      Reply
  • Megan Dyan February 22, 2013, 4:42 pm

    I think I tend to agree with Amy, above. If you are feeling so guilty about quitting, it’s because you do know that breast is best. And you are more than capable of continuing to breastfeed. A lot of the ‘mommy guilt’ things we have little control over. Some moms cannot breastfeed. Some moms cannot stay home for financial reasons. Some moms cannot … fill in the blank. But you – you can – and successfully do – breastfeed. If you’re feeling guilty about quitting, then don’t. Is it easy or convenient or fun for you? Maybe not. But, without any major harm, it is achievable. Many things about motherhood are an ‘annoyance’ (like the pump may be for you) but as mothers, we often do those annoying, inconvenient, undesirable things for our children.

    Please know I’m not judging. If you breastfeed or if you formula feed makes no difference to me. But when you know it’s the best thing for your child, and you know you are fully capable of doing it, and you know you’re feeling extreme guilt about not doing it – well, to me, the answer is obvious.

    Reply
    • Anne Mooney February 22, 2013, 10:38 pm

      as a breastfeeding mom, I would like to chime in breast is not necessarily best

      http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/04/the-case-against-breast-feeding/307311/

      and sometimes if you say you’re not judging, it’s an indication you are.

      Reply
      • Jackie February 23, 2013, 8:27 am

        So if I feel guilty being a working mom, when I don’t necessarily have to for financial reasons, that means I should stay at home? No, I’m sorry, but there is something to be said for taking care of yourself as a mother so you’re happy, and healthy, and thriving. Guilt comes with ANY hard decision because we always think that something is better on the other side, but usually we’ve been on that other side and it wasn’t right for us which is why we decided to change.

        If you have to say “I’m not judging”, that usually means you are.

        Reply
    • Jackie February 23, 2013, 8:26 am

      So if I feel guilty being a working mom, when I don’t necessarily have to for financial reasons, that means I should stay at home? No, I’m sorry, but there is something to be said for taking care of yourself as a mother so you’re happy, and healthy, and thriving. Guilt comes with ANY hard decision because we always think that something is better on the other side, but usually we’ve been on that other side and it wasn’t right for us which is why we decided to change.

      If you have to say “I’m not judging”, that usually means you are.

      Reply
    • Christy February 23, 2013, 8:54 am

      As a licensed psychotherapist and a formula feeding mom, I have to disagree, guilt DOES not mean that you know what you need to do so should do it. Decisions like this are hard and personal- you do what you want with your breasts and your children- there are so many complex factors involved that fellow women and moms would be best to stop the judging and lecturing about “what’s best” especially to people who have been educated and are not making hard decisions lightly.

      Reply
      • Caitlin February 23, 2013, 10:29 am

        This was an interesting discussion, ladies! I think a blog post on this topic is in order!

        Reply
    • Jazz March 7, 2013, 8:38 am

      Starting your comment with breast is best feels judgemental to me, as someone supplimenting with formula after pumping after every 1 hour breastfeeding session trying to make enough so I will feel adequate… thanks or the encouragement…

      Reply
  • Jen February 22, 2013, 4:49 pm

    You are doing great!
    Thank you for sharing this very personal account! I too exclusively breast fed, and felt like I was the only one. I do remember the engorgement and the hormones the first few days after weaning were the worst, but it does get better. I seriously felt like singing pomp and circumstance while marching my pump to storage when I was done!
    Just our of curiosity, how are you liking the Paraguard? I also chose that as my birth control, and loved it while pumping, but once I stopped pumping and got my periods back, my hormones were like a roller coaster, and I recently chose to go on a low estrogen BCP instead.
    Anyway, good luck with everything!

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 22, 2013, 5:50 pm

      I LOVE THE PARAGUARD!!!!!!!! it’s great.

      Reply
  • Adrienne February 22, 2013, 5:11 pm

    Caitlin, I know you know it, but you’ve done so well to exclusively pump for 8 months!! That’s more than 1000 pumping sessions. Holy moley!!!!

    I pumped for two months after my 8 mth old self weaned. Now that was heartbreaking. I kept pumping in the hope that he’d come back to the breast, but he never did. And for some reason I couldn’t let go of pumping. I was chained to that thing for 1.5hrs a day, first thing in the morning, last thing at night. And I hated it. But couldn’t let go. I have no idea why. Mummy guilt? Nutritional benefits? (I’m a dietitian do this is somewhat important, but not enough to lose 90 minutes a day over…). When I was waking up at 4:30am to pump before working out and a full day at work, I realised it was craziness and I was ready to stop. And I’m fine. He’s fine. And no more cleaning the damn pump!!

    I think that you’re on the home straight with weaning. The first few days were the worst for me, but I was surprused how quickly my body adapted. Hope you have a similar experience xx

    Reply
  • Allison February 22, 2013, 5:25 pm

    It is sad no matter when you stop or why (and I mean normal for moms to feel sad, not that you should feel bad/guilty). There are obviously hormones involved and it is the end of an era no matter when you wean. I think it is healthy to mourn the loss of that part of your relationship even if it is a choice you are making. I was never able to pump enough milk once I went back to work and starting at 8-10 months both my kids had some formula and some breastmilk. My daughter totally stopped on her own at 12 months and I weaned my son at 14 months (because I was 24 weeks pregnant and needed a BREAK). I am done having kids and not breastfeeding again is the hardest part of that for me. It is a pretty special thing, nursing or through bottles, and at 8 months or 2 years, weaning is a big step. Try not to feel guilty though. I had a friend who never had enough milk and the lactation specialiest told her, every oz of breastmilk you can give your child is good. I think we should look at it this way – every oz we gave them is good, instead of feeling bad about every oz we don’t. I think this is a great parenting mantra in general – feel good about all the great things you do give them instead of guilty about what you think you should be able to do.

    Reply
  • Allison February 22, 2013, 5:26 pm

    And one more thing – if you are not sure you are ready to stop, why don’t you just pump once a day for awhile? I don’t think it has to be all or nothing.

    Reply
  • Mallory February 22, 2013, 5:47 pm

    Making the choice that feels right for you and your family is the right choice!

    I haven’t used it myself, but a friend just recently having problems with blocked ducts, engorgement & threatening mastitis swears by shredded russet potatoes. She wraps them in an old cloth (like a torn up old t-shirt). Crossing my fingers I don’t ever need to try this, but may be helpful for you or others! Good luck!

    Reply
  • Rachel February 22, 2013, 5:48 pm

    Stopping nursing is challenging no matter how long you’ve done it. I stopped at 20(!) months and STILL felt guilty. But really? You fed him breast milk for eight freaking months. That makes you a rock star. Wanting your body back? That makes your normal. High five to you for doing this as long as you have!

    Reply
  • Amy Q February 22, 2013, 5:52 pm

    FYI- I stopped nursing both of my boys around 8-9 months– -Henry’s age or pretty close- it seemed like a good time cause they were soooooo busy that they were too nosy most of the time to snuggle in to nurse. Many people told me that this stage would pass if I stuck with it- but their independent and curious stage made it feel like the right time– so it seemed crazy to get them through the stage of being too nosy/busy to nurse only to wean them. So that was the age when my boys stopped getting breast milk.

    Whatever worked for you and Henry and got you this far as the awesome mom and baby team that you are was OBVIOUSLY the right choice for you both! Good luck getting over to the other side. And just as a (sort of TMI) aside, I could express milk (not much, but drops) for a longggggggggg time after they were done. Don’t ask why I would check- I don’t even have a real answer other than I was curious as to how long it would go on for, so I would periodically check. That being said, they are 13 and 11 and it stopped many, many moons ago, and I stopped checking a long, long time ago, too :)

    Reply
  • Alycia February 22, 2013, 6:05 pm

    Just wanted to let you know that I am no where close to having a baby and I still enjoy every post about pregnancy, mind and body sfter baby and breastfeeding that you do! I actually look forward to posts about those topics and feel like I will be more prepared when the time comes because you have opened my mind to many different things!

    Reply
  • Emilie February 22, 2013, 6:29 pm

    I weaned at 8 months and felt exactly what you’re feeling. The hormones make everything seem so much worse than it is. But Breastfeeing was just not working for my daughter (or me) anymore. I was miserable all the time and nursing did a hormonal number on my body way worse than pregnancy! It wasn’t until I weaned her did I truly begin to ENJOY life as a mother. It’s not that I loved my daughter more or less, but I was able to get some perspective since I didn’t feel physically terrible all the time.
    I am sure others judged me for weaning when on the outside there was no reason to. But no one beside me was feeling what my body was feeling. You have the right and privilege to choose what to do with your body.
    Breastfeeling is HARD. Anyone who says different is straight out lying. Anyone who does it for any length of time deserves credit.

    Reply
    • Ashley February 22, 2013, 8:44 pm

      Totally agree. I read so many books, took a class and still was nowhere near prepared for just how hard it is. I guess it’s discouraging to pregnant women to highlight that, but I feel like it’s a disservice to perpetuate this idealized image of cuddling and bonding. That IS the case, but only after a LOT of pain and tears!

      Reply
    • Maggie February 25, 2013, 1:07 am

      I have to say that breastfeeding is not hard for everyone. Maybe I’m extremely lucky but I’ve been breastfeeding my son for almost 5 months now and it has been the easiest most beautiful thing ever. My milk came in at 2 days, he latches perfectly, I’ve never once been engorged, I very very rarely leak. I’ve never had mastitis, a yeast infection, or any type of major pain or discomfort. I had some slight nipple tenderness the first 2 weeks and some slight tingly pain when my milk let down the first month.

      I’m a work-at-home mom and I have pumped probably 5 times total. It’s a little inconvenient having to be with my baby all the time because he won’t take a bottle, but he will go about 4 hours between day feedings so I’ve been able to go out by myself some. My son has been in the 97% for weight since his one month appointment and was 3 oz. over his birthweight at 5 days post-partum. I feel like formula feeding would be much harder. I’m waiting till 6 months to introduce any type of solids because what we have is so easy and is working so well. I’m not straight out lying.

      I read about so many horrible experiences with breastfeeding and how hard it was and was prepared for things to be rough. They weren’t. There isn’t always pain and tears. I don’t say this to rub it in anyone’s face or make anyone feel badly about their own experiences but to let others know that it isn’t always hard.

      That said, I think exclusively pumping for 6 months would be very hard! I can’t even imagine and I think you are awsome for getting to 8 months with it Caitlin! I also know its probably very hard to make the decision you are making, but it sounds like you have really thought it out and are doing what is best for you and Henry.

      Reply
  • Irina February 22, 2013, 6:37 pm

    I think that it is a personal decision, and you take the responsibility for it and once it is made, go with it… every mother has pangs of guilt, sometimes more, sometimes less, but I think that we just have to move forward from “guitly” and not dwell on it so much. It seems like every blog I read, there is all this GUILT – breastfeeding, working, not working, etc, etc, etc. I am frankly just so tired of it,tired of indulging in talking about it. Tired of constantly validating it. Feeling of guilt is normal, it happens to all of us, it sucks, it passes, it comes back, it sucks, it passes. I can understand that you are going through and I hope you find peace with this decision once your baby if fully transitioned to formular. I am on the other end of the spectrum – I work full time and had to pump during the day and nurse at night. I struggled with supply, but my daughter started weaning herself at about 9 mo and by the time she was 11 months old she was not interested in breast feeding. I stopped pumping gradually and never experienced engorgement. I am not sure that it was my dwindline supply that caused her to start weaning or eating more solids or just her natural rythm, who knows, but i would have given everything to have a better supply and to be where you are. I felt so guilty for not providing her with more milk that she can drink… So, I guess it is all relative. But seriously, as mothers, must we spend so much time feeling bad about EVERYTHING? I am choosing to stop talking about feeling guilty, and stop venting about it – it will pass and it will always get better. I am over the guilt.

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 22, 2013, 7:32 pm

      YES YES YES. I want to be right there with you!!!

      Reply
      • Amy Q February 22, 2013, 9:49 pm

        welllllllll said. Down with guilt!

        Reply
  • Beth February 22, 2013, 6:38 pm

    Just chiming in to say I don’t have (and I’m not trying for) kids, but I still read every word of all your candid and honest posts about new motherhood. I bet I’ll check back on the archives when I’m going through the same journey years from now. Thanks in advance :)

    Reply
  • Kristen February 22, 2013, 6:39 pm

    I’ll start by saying that I am not a mom, so I’m not sure how helpful this suggestion will be, but perhaps you could try to think of weaning as a milestone. Think about how excited you will be when Henry starts walking … Right now, you’re probably taking steps to help him in this process, and when he is finally able to walk on his own you won’t be sad that he’s not crawling anymore, you’ll just be excited and proud of him. Maybe you could try to reframe the weaning process in the same way? As if it’s something to be celebrated rather than mourned? Anyway, I think you are an awesome mom and doing a great job!

    Reply
  • jen February 22, 2013, 7:12 pm

    I weaned my daughter at 8-9 months….but really she weaned herself and went straight to a cup (she didn’t want to have anything to do with a bottle)… I was totally ok with it. She was my third and I learned after my first 2 to go with the flow!Your doing great…your making sure he’s well fed…and thats whats important! Your a good mom…cut yourself a break and realize its alright to enjoy not pumping….that its alright to have your body back to yourself! I find moms are harder on ourselves than anything but really its just a small part of the bigger puzzle!

    Reply
  • LIZ February 22, 2013, 7:28 pm

    Good luck! I’m exclusively breastfeeding and dealt with oversupply previously, so I’m kind of scared about how weaning will go.

    Reply
  • Shelley February 22, 2013, 7:29 pm

    I think it is perfectly ok to change your mind and go back to fully pumping. Now you know how much you “want” to do it., it might be different. You can always try stopping again. I have a Henry, born 6/16/12, and I exclusively pump. One year will be here soon!

    Reply
  • Christy February 22, 2013, 8:09 pm

    Take comfort in the fact that the guilt is there no matter when you wean. I’ve been pregnant or nursing non-stop since August 2007. My youngest will be 2 on March 3, and he still nurses all the time. I AM OVER IT, but I feel horrible forcing him to stop, b/c I know he’ll stop on his own soon enough. :-(

    Reply
  • Verna February 22, 2013, 8:19 pm

    Stopping breastfeeding is such a hard time all around. I dried up with my first around 10 months. I had cut back some to try to regain fertility and ended up drying up completely. I felt SOOOOOO guilty! I made it 15 months with my 2nd. I actually chose to wean this time because I was pregnant and the pain was excruciating! Excruciating! Still felt guilty though. I don’t know if I’d ever make it to the point of not feeling guilty about it. Hang in there! You did an awesome thing for Henry for 8 months! You did a great job!

    Reply
  • emily February 22, 2013, 8:52 pm

    Caitlin, you are awesome. This post won’t apply to me for years (hopefully sooner but with husband’s residency who knows!) but I love that you are sharing your experience honestly.

    Reply
  • Stephanie February 22, 2013, 8:55 pm

    I have a one year old and I never breastfed. I just never had the desire. I am a pretty modest person and I felt like my husband and I could share the responsibilities of feeding 50/50 and it worked out great for us and my daughter wants for nothing. Until I read blogs like yours and others I honestly never even thought that people would feel guilty about not breastfeeding. But I guess we all feel different mom guilt. See, while I don’t feel the need/desire to breastfeed, I put my career (an advanced degree career) on hold because I felt super strongly against having my baby in full-time daycare. I guess my point is that we all feel passionate about different things but I think at the end of the day you do the best you can and you clearly did the best you could and you should NOT feel guilty.

    Reply
  • Jamie February 22, 2013, 9:12 pm

    Hugs, Caitlin! I quit nursing my son at five months and felt horrible guilt. When he was eighteen months old I was talking to someone about how I quit nursing him at five months and suddenly burst into tears. Over a YEAR later and I was still emotionally beating myself up over it. But I am fine with my decision now (at age two) and you will be eventually too. You’re a great mom!

    Reply
  • Jen February 22, 2013, 9:16 pm

    I don’t agree that your guilt is an indicator that you need to continue pumping. Some decisions are just HARD, especially when you’re a mommy. I weaned at 5 months and was too sleep-deprived to feel guilty. My little one was still waking every 2-3 hours at night, and it was either switching to formula or completely losing my sanity. I say all of that to say….Balancing the well-being of our children with the well-being of OURSELVES is a tough job. Ending up on either end of the continuum and taking things to the extreme – either in terms of being completely selfLESS or completely selfISH – is not healthy. Everyone is healthier and happier when Mommy is at peace. You’re doing an awesome job.

    Reply
    • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) February 23, 2013, 8:20 am

      Jen I totally agree. Caitlin – you are doing an awesome job.

      Ive been exclusively pumping for 6 months now and I’m on the verge of totally weaning. My goal was to make it to 1 year pumping (daughter is nearly 10 months old) but I just don’t know anymore. I have weaned down to only 3 pump sessions per day at this point. We will see. I totally get how the guilt takes over. Love Jen’s perspective in her comment. :)

      Reply
  • Amber K February 22, 2013, 9:23 pm

    While I am looking forward to being a mother one day, I am NOT looking forward to mommy guilt. I know it’s coming…and I don’t want it. ;)

    Reply
  • Jacquelynn February 22, 2013, 9:36 pm

    Hang in there, and THANK YOU for being so honest about your process!!!!!

    Reply
  • Brandy February 22, 2013, 9:56 pm

    First off, great job!!! You made 8 whole months. That is a long time…esp for pumping. You rock. And guess what, I see tons of kids daily, and it ain’t being breasted that matters…it’s being loved, supported, believed in. So many children dont receive those gifts that mold them. Refocus on what matters. And yes, starting really young on those tasks does matter. You got this ; )

    Reply
  • Satyenhacks February 22, 2013, 10:48 pm

    loved this post..and It’s gud to know you are down to 3…

    Reply
  • Erin @ Lemongrass Love February 22, 2013, 11:15 pm

    Love your honesty. The fact that you have your ‘Mommy Guilt’ already proves that you are a fantastic, selfless mum. Please let go of the negative thoughts, and congratulate yourself on making it so far to begin with. xx

    Reply
  • Jen February 23, 2013, 6:24 am

    My daughter is 15 months old and I weaned her around 13 months. Trust me, it doesn’t matter when you stop, you will feel mommy-guilt and you’ll have crazy emotions. You could pump until your son is 13 years old and you’d still feel a twinge of guilt when you weaned him. You’re doing great! You’re doing what’s right for you and your family. Nothing else matters!

    Reply
  • CR in MD February 23, 2013, 8:48 am

    This is just one of the first of many decisions you’ll make as a parent. Good, bad, or neither – you’re obviously making it with the best intentions of your child at heart. And I think THAT is more important, so own it! Congratulations on successfully nursing – and weaning – your baby!

    Reply
  • Sara February 23, 2013, 9:12 am

    I dont know what its like to be a mom but from the looks of it (just what we see here on the blog) you seem to be doing an AWESOME job. seriously. And if stopping is whats best for you guys in the long run then its whats best.
    “If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello”

    Reply
  • Sarah February 23, 2013, 9:25 am

    I think you will always feel the guilt, no matter what. Transitions are hard. I went back to work when my son was 11 weeks old. For my sister-in-law in the UK, it was when her son was 9 months old. Both of us experienced the separation anxiety and emotions that go with switching from being the primary caregiver to, well, not, regardless of when it was. And I stopped breastfeeding at around 6 1/2 months, but partially weaned (to half pumping, half formula) at around 4 months and the emotional roller coaster was awful. I felt grey for weeks. Would I have felt less guilt had I made it to 7 or 8 months? Doubtful. But I still know it was the right decision for me.

    Reply
  • Megan February 23, 2013, 9:28 am

    You’re doing great. Exclusively pumping is way HARDER than breast feeding the old fashioned way. I have done both, and pumping for 3-4 weeks straight almost made me crazy, you lasted an incredibly long time doing that. We’re also in a weaning process with my 11 month old. I started giving her sippy cups of formula at ten months, just to get her sleeping better at night and stopping our really frequent nursing sessions. My body is just so worn out from nursing, it really takes a toll on you physically and emotionally, and I think all women should be commended for nursing, however they do it, and however long they do it, it is a huge challenge. And it’s not what makes up the core of motherhood, by any means. It’s the love you give your child.

    Reply
  • Jen February 23, 2013, 10:39 am

    I think you are amazing and a wonderful mother. Thanks for sharing this with your readers.

    Reply
  • Jennifer Cook February 23, 2013, 11:04 am

    I just wanted to tell you that although the percentage of people this applies to is small, we are still out there, so please keep writing about it. I am new on my EP journey (my son is only 4 weeks old) and when I decided to exclusively pump, I could hardly find any information about how long, how often, how much I should be getting etc. I am still not sure if I am going about it the right way, but my son is getting what he needs, and I guess that’s what is important. It is HARD though. I have already had mastitis (it was horrible) and a clogged duct that thankfully didn’t lead to mastitis again. So I think weaning as gradually as is possible for you is important. Mastitis SUCKS. Basically, I just want to say thank you for putting some information out there that is hard to find otherwise.

    Reply
    • Stephanie March 17, 2014, 10:53 am

      Jennifer Cook–Kudos to you! I’m one of the few with you–and I’m weaning right now on my 2nd–if you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me!
      ~Stephanie

      Reply
  • Veronica February 23, 2013, 2:38 pm

    I felt that guilt, fear, worry. Wondering if you’re doing the right thing.

    I nursed my first for 1 year (two weeks short anyway) and then he went to cows milk.

    By the time we had my second, I had cut fluid milk out of our diet. So when I was ready to wean my 2nd, I was faced with a dilemma: Was he old enough for *just* almond milk or did he still need nutrients from formula?
    He was a voracious eater and was growing beautifully, so I struck a compromise. I would make half almond milk, half formula. For the next month I reduced the formula and increased the almond milk until he was on straight AM by 11 mo. But, he was also getting pure water, watered down juice, yogurt, fruits and veggies, etc. The milk was such a small part of his life by 11 mo.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that 8mo is far enough along that he wont be on formula for very long. Maybe 2-3 more mo and then you can switch him over to whatever milk you drink. He’ll be getting the majority of his calories from real food by then anyway.
    So, think of it this way – in the end, he will have had more months of breastmilk in his life than formula. And that is something to be thankful for!

    Reply
  • kathy February 23, 2013, 3:02 pm

    i was wondering how your husband feels about the whole thing? My husband did not care either way he did not like me breastfeeding but like saving the money. I told him when I got pregnant that I would not do any formula. But my husband is not into anything natural and his family was all formula fed and they thought breastfeeding was odd and made them uncomfortable. All my friends husbands were into health and natural living so they would not have been all right with formula.

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 23, 2013, 4:41 pm

      We have had loads of discussions because, of course, my husband practices natural medicine and believes in the power of breastmilk (as do I, of course). It was important to him that I BF for 6 months, but after that, he didn’t care either way and just wanted me to be happy. The money sucks but I think we both value my happiness above cash.

      Reply
  • Barca Mama February 23, 2013, 4:34 pm

    Kudos to you for posting about such a personal subject. My breastfeding journey was much different from yours, but I can still relate with the intense emotions, constant questioning and overwhelming guilt. Take care and pamper yourself. You are fantastic mama and little H is lucky to have you:)

    Reply
  • Sara February 24, 2013, 5:10 pm

    I’ll be quite honest and say I’m not a mother, nor do I currently plan to breastfeed if I become one (I was formula fed myself), but I just wanted to say that just because Caitlin is experiencing the physiological effects in stopping breastfeeding, does not mean that her body is sending her some kind of “sign” of Mom guilt that she should continue breastfeeding. It’s her decision — both physically and mentally – and I find it absurd that others are trying to shame her into continuing for some kind of pseudo-scientific “well, it’s biology and her body is telling her what to” rationale. If anything, I applaud her many decisions to say that the best kind of motherhood is about what’s doing right for both mother AND baby and that a mother’s welfare, physical, mental, psychological, spiritual, etc. is a critical aspect in providing the best possible care for their child as well. Breastfeeding your baby (alone) is not what makes you a good mother. I applaud Caitlin for trying to find that elusive balance between her and her baby’s needs and wants and for having an open and honest conversation about how to find that middle ground. It gives me a lot of think about if I ever find myself at that stage in life.

    Reply
  • Emily February 24, 2013, 9:23 pm

    Caitlin, you’re an amazing mum! I honestly don’t know if I would ever be able to pump for as long as you did, but you have nothing to feel guilty about. Pumping was impacting your mood which would no doubt have caused a relapse of depression and impacted your ability to be the awesome mummy you are :) you made the right decision for your welfare and therefore Henry’s. You had complete supply but don’t let that hinder your accomplishment, you pumped for eight months and even if you hadn’t I would still look up to you.

    You can eat Greek yoghurt and goats cheese now – always look at the positives :D

    Reply
  • Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker February 24, 2013, 9:44 pm

    Wow do I not envy you. I’ll let you know that even having breastfed for 15 months, the guilt is still there — even though I’m BF before bed. I still feel guilty all the time. It’s a no-win situation no matter what you do. Sigh…

    Reply
  • Marissa C February 25, 2013, 12:41 am

    Curious? If you decide to have another will you exclusively pump? You’ve made it way longer than the other pumping-only moms I’ve known (kudos), but the feelings you’ve expressed seem similar to what they felt. It was such a relief and easier at first but quickly became a chore.

    Reply
  • Katie February 25, 2013, 11:10 am

    I stopped pumping (also an exclusive pumper) at 4 months….and I’m so glad I did! It is SO HARD to come to the decision, and I constantly looking back too….bc once you’re supply is gone, it’s GONE. But I am a happier person, which equals better mom AND better wife. And knowing that my hubby and I were both formula fed and turned out JUST fine helps…..but the mommy guilt will always be there. You’ve done a fabulous job!

    Reply
  • Jackie February 25, 2013, 11:50 am

    I don’t know about drying up supply, but I do know oatmeal is good for supply and peppermint tea is supposed to be bad, so you can try cutting out oats and drinking mint tea!

    I think it’s part of our culture to think we are “bad moms.” I catch myself joking about it all the time, but that’s now it becomes part of your mentality. Same as joking about being fat, you know?

    Reply
  • Sarah from TX April 22, 2013, 10:10 am

    My son just turned one year last week and I am DONE!!! I have EP’d for 12 months (12 months with my first too) and cannot wait to get the weaning process overwith. My pump is dying and I don’t know how much more I can handle. Thank you for this writing about your experiences. I’m loading up on peppermint and sage tea, cabbage leaves, and Sudafed. Actually hoping the kids stress me out and I’m not going to sleep for a few days, lol.

    I am currently pumping every twelve hours and my son has started whole milk. Only producing about 16 oz a day now. Any suggestions on going cold turkey in case the pump gives up before I am completely finished weaning? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Caitlin April 22, 2013, 10:19 am

      Sudafed really did help me manage the engorgement!

      Reply
  • Jill from Wichita May 14, 2013, 4:10 pm

    I can’t tell you how grateful I am to find this post. Thank you for your honesty and candor. I am 7 months into EP’ing for our twins, and it has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. At two months, my daughter suddenly developed an aversion to nursing;she refused and never looked back. I have done everything to keep my supply at 2 liters a day-enough to feed both babies exlusively with breast milk, but it has taken an extreme toll on the quality of my life. Anyone in our shoes knows that we sacrifice time, sleep, convenience, freedom and so much more to provide the best for our babies, and I am riddled with guilt too at the thought of scaling back. It’s time to get some real sleep…it’s time to not lug the pump everywhere I go, and it’s time to enjoy myself for longer than three hours at a time without pain and engorgement. I can’t thank you enough for sharing. It is breaking my heart to quit, but I am so exhausted. Congrats to all of the moms who have chosen this tough path…we are some strong ladies!!!!!

    Reply
  • Erin May 18, 2013, 9:18 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing the posts are deciding and, ultimately, quitting pumping. I’m pumping as I write this, actually, and tomorrow marks my daughter’s 6 month birthday (after experiencing a host of problems in the beginning I have been exclusively pumping since she was 1 week old, but I started pumping in the hospital on day 2).

    I stumbled across your blog post becausee today my husband and I decided together that I should stop pumping. We both work full time, demanding jobs and it has definitely difficult even leaving the house with my pumping schedule and LO’s feeding/nap schedule (she doesn’t nap well anywhere but her crib at home and at daycare…both a blessing and a curse! Haha).

    I know that I want to stop but I am also having some mixed feelings about it as well. Your post on how you decided to stop pumping (even when you have a healthy supply) felt like you were writing my story.

    The EPing crowd is certainly a smallish one, but It felt so great to read your story and know that I am not along in my feelings.

    So thank you again! :)

    Reply
  • Kim June 6, 2013, 11:31 am

    Thank you for posting this and for your honest voice. I’ve been exclusively pumping for my son since he was six weeks old and we realized breastfeeding couldn’t work for us. He’s now almost eight months. Pumping was definitely more challenging when he was younger and I was pumping every 2-3 hours, but I’m increasingly feeling burned out and have been thinking about stopping. Like the previous commenter, I work full-time outside the home. I find it’s tough for me to feel like I’m getting anything substantial accomplished in my personal or professional life because I’m always distracted with pumping. I feel so grateful to have your experiences to weigh into my equation as I decide whether to stick it out a little longer or go ahead and call it. Thanks so much for your honesty and strength in sharing your story!

    Reply
  • Nicole June 25, 2013, 4:41 pm

    I am going through this right now and just reading this post has made me smile today. I am an exclusive pumper (since my son was 4 months). He is 9 Months now, and I would not be stopping if it were not for 2 open sores I that I cannot get to heal. I went on vacation to a friends wedding and I forgot a part to the pump. I was in Mexico and was only able to find a manuel/hand help pump. By doing this, I did damage and they are not healing. So, my emotions are running high because I would continue to pump (I wanted to make it a year), but because of these sores I must stop. Thanks so much for your post, it has given me a little bit more peace about this.

    Reply
  • Jes June 30, 2013, 9:56 pm

    Thanks for writing this post!! You are so right about the fact that there is so little information for exclusive pumpers out there, and even less information on how to stop pumping early. I’m trying to quit right now & feel exactly how you did… the bit under ‘Emotions’ really explained exactly how I feel. Your right, no matter what – this sucks! I just wanted to say THANKS SO MUCH! It’s helps to know someone else is going through the same thing & understands :D

    Reply
  • Liz July 9, 2013, 2:02 am

    Thank you so much for posting this. I felt like you were in my head when you wrote this! I’m stopping EP after ten months and an abundant supply. I have been totally crazy and not sleeping well since I started the process (rather quick, like you). I have the exact same guilt as you with the formula, giving her first serving of it ever just today to extend the exposure to milk. Even with a few hundred ounces frozen, that won’t take her till she’s one year. I had just had one of my “moments,” let’s call them, tonight when I snapped at my super awesome and patient hubby and said (basically out of nowhere), “You have no idea what I’m going through right now!” So thank you for posting this; thank you for sharing your story; and most of all, thank you for helping out this stranger.

    Take care.

    Liz

    Reply
  • Linda August 8, 2013, 10:57 am

    I know it’s been months now, but how did Henry do with the switchover to formula? I’m curious to hear more about that side of the transition as well. I’ve been exclusively pumping for almost 10 months and am now on the verge of deciding to wean and your posts and all of the feedback have been extremely helpful in preparing me for what’s to come! Thank you!!!

    Reply
    • Caitlin August 8, 2013, 12:28 pm

      He was fine – it was no big deal at all!

      Reply
      • Dana August 23, 2013, 4:10 pm

        I just did a search for some support and found this train, so thank you for your post. When I got pregnant, I decided that I was committed to breastfeeding, but having had a breast reduction when I was 18, the midwife told me that I would most certainly have issues. I was elated when I expressed colostrum, but I just didn’t produce enough to exclusively BF. So, I was ok with a combo approach. I’ve been pumping 3 times a day and nursing 2 times, after which, I give her a bottle of organic formula. Each time I pump or nurse, I’ve never gotten more than 2.5 ounces out of one breast and even less out of the other. Anyway, my baby is just over 5 months and even though she has had formula since she was born, I continue to give her what I can. Currently, I’m struggling with stopping. I want to because, let’s face it, she’s only getting a minimal amount, but emotionally I just cant. I’m tired of pumping for so little, but I can’t face giving her her last bottle of BM or nursing her for the last time. I just want to cry about it. I know that there are no answers, but what’s right for me. It’s just so hard!!!

        Reply
  • Heather September 12, 2013, 9:52 pm

    My little guy is 7 1/2 months now and I was exclsively pumping since i went back to work at 6 weeks. we have been gradually supplementing formula for about 3 weeks now, it’s been a hard decision to stop pumping. My husband and I always thought I would Breastfeed/pump until a year. I have a new respect for anyone that can do that and work a full time job while juggling the rest of the family. I Breastfed my twins for about a week before I realized I was in over my head. So this being my first single pregnancy I was in it for the long haul. I am struggling with the idea of not pumping any more. I am down to pumping once at night before bed. :( I am scared that I will miss it.

    Reply
  • Heidi September 24, 2013, 9:59 pm

    Good for you for making it so long! I read this because I am in the process of quitting pumping this week. Made it to 3 months, absolutely hated pumping. I wished desperately my baby would breast feed, but my preemie never caught on. I had hoped to breastfeed a year.
    Sigh. Anyhow, helpful to read this as I go through the physical and mental (guilt!) of the stopping process.

    Reply
  • kristen September 25, 2013, 12:00 pm

    You’re right. We’re an elite group-us EPers. I just found this blog bc I am looking to wean from exclusive pumping at 6 months. I had really hoped to breast feed for a minimum of 1 year and for medical reasons my daughter is on an NG tube and I have been pumping since the day she was born. All women who have supplied BM to their babes know what it’s like to go through a weaning process, but unless pumping is the sole way of supplying BM to a baby, women don’t understand being tethered to the pump. It is at times painful, it is very time consuming, it is inconvenient, it can’t be done everywhere, and it takes me away from my baby instead of closer to her. I am struggling with the guilt right now, even though intellectually I know she will be fine on formula. I still pump 7 times a day, I struggle with a low supply, and often my pumping sessions are 30 minutes to try to squeeze every drop and tell my body to keep making more ( I probably make btwn 20-25 oz a day). Combine that with taking the time to hook up and clean everything and I am probably spending about 5 hours of my day with Bessie the pump. You wrote this entry a long time ago and I found this (and therefore your blog) through my online search for weaning from exclussive pumping. Can you tell me how your weaning journey ended? Thank you for writing about this-there isn’t a lot of information out there on it-like I said, elite group.

    Reply
  • EliciA October 4, 2013, 1:27 pm

    Thank you SO much for posting this blog. I have been fighting with my self for the past month on whether or not I should wean from EP. No one understands how much work it takes to EP unless you have actually been there! It’s both physically AND emotionally draining! My daughter is 5 months old and I decided yesterday to start weaning, it is a lot harder than I had imagined and then I came across this blog and it has helped me greatly! It’s wonderful to have
    Emotional support!

    Reply
  • Sharon October 12, 2013, 5:12 pm

    Thank you for this post.
    I’m a first time mum and I’ve had issues with breast feeding since day one as I was read mitred to hospital for a week and separated from my son. My son is 5 weeks old and will occasionally latch (with the help of a nipple shield due to a tongue tie). I’m finding it hard to pump if latching doesn’t work, or if he’s not crying and pushing away from my boobs.
    Your post definitely honest and I take my hat off to you for EP for that long!!!
    You did an amazing job as exclusively EPing is hard work. I feel it is taking a toll on me however even though wanting to give up I feel a mass of guilt even thinking about it.
    I’m hoping that I can last as long as you did!!!

    Reply
    • Monica October 24, 2013, 2:35 pm

      Sharon – I am in your shoes exactly. My daughter never latched either. I have been pumping since mid July. I have also returned to work and pump twice while at work and then again 3 times overnight. I have decided to stop pumping daily then change my mind again. I do not like the way I feel when pumping and almost feel ill. At the same time I understand the benefits of doing it. I so far have no problem producing enough to keep up with my daughters demands and have not had any other problems. I really want to return to life as normal without these nauseous feelings but then get equally nauseous with the guilt of stopping.

      Reply
  • Jen October 28, 2013, 10:13 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. I’m exclusively pumping as well (because of bad latch and returning to work soon), so it was great to read what I can expect when the time comes to stop.

    Reply
  • Maria Wu October 29, 2013, 4:47 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experiences…..exclusive pumping for that long is a huge commitment and you should be PROUD of yourself for going for that long. Dropping pumps one by one and shorten the pump time is the correct way to go….I’m now in the process of weaning at 6 months (for my second baby) and going to formula is fine. Good luck and thanks for sharing your story.

    Reply
  • Frances October 30, 2013, 11:43 am

    Thank you so much for this post (I know I’m a little late reading), but we are ending the process of weaning this week as an EP. I have this overwhelming feeling of guilt too because I’m stopping for selfish reason and I keep replaying them over and over in my head, still feeling sad/guilty/bad mama. I’m down to one pump a day and so far no complications (knock on wood), but we’ve been working on gradual weaning for over a month, which has been hard wrestling with the emotions. Nonetheless, I’m so glad there are other EPing mamas out there. We did it for 11 solid months and I feel proud, but also wish we could have been “normal” and breastfed, but with a full-time job, a baby who LOVED bottles, two bouts with mastitis, sore nipples, clogged ducts, etc….something had to give, so we went down this long, 11 month journey of EPing.

    Love to all!

    Reply
  • kendra October 31, 2013, 10:03 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. My son is only 2 months old but we are weaning him because he prefers formula. And when I mean prefers, I mean he takes my breastmilk and screams for hours in pain. He drinks formula and is a calm and happy baby. My first son was mostly formula fed for other reasons and I know it’s perfectly fine for them. But the guilt is almost unbearable. I really wanted this experience with him and he was so good at latching, my supply is (was, it’s gone down in this last week as i pump less) great, but he’s a different child when he gets my milk and the doctor can’t explain it (I’m not eating anything that might cause it). It’s just good to hear from others that the guilt I feel is normal and OK and that I’m not alone.

    Reply
  • Amanda November 5, 2013, 12:56 am

    Thank you so much! I really needed to read your post. I don’t feel so alone anymore.

    Reply
  • Cbush November 5, 2013, 2:53 pm

    Today is day 9 of weaning for me. I was also an exclusive pumper who decided to switch to formula (hypoallergenic). I also spaced out my pumping and I did eventually get past the firs three nights of painful engorgement, but why are my breasts still rock hard bu not engorged? I’ve been doing the cabbage, cold, sports bra, birth control and all the little tips and tricks and I can’t get rid of the hardness or discomfort associated with it?

    Reply
    • Caitlin November 6, 2013, 9:23 am

      it takes a while – are you still pumping the milk off for baby? if not, you could consider taking Sudafed. It helps dry up milk. I think its technically okay for baby to have milk with Sudafed but it’s kind of “meh” by some doctors.

      Reply
  • Angie November 6, 2013, 3:24 pm

    I just stumbled upon your post and wanted to thank you for writing it. I was an EPer for 10 months and have just stopped pumping this week. It’s funny–I really hated pumping and being attached to that stupid machine for so long, but now that I’ve finally decided to stop, I’m questioning the decision and wondering if I should continue until my son reaches his first birthday. I almost miss pumping and I’m certainly filled with guilt for stopping “for me”. It was nice to read that others are going through the same thing.

    Regarding stopping, I gradually reduced the number of pumps per day until I was just pumping once before bedtime. Then I just stopped a few days after that. I’m still rock hard (5 days after quitting), but I’m finally less uncomfortable. I went for a short jog this evening, but it was rather unpleasant. How long until you were back to “normal” after stopping?

    Reply
  • Stephanie B. November 12, 2013, 12:06 am

    It was wonderful reading your story and knowing I had someone to identify with. My identical twin boys just turned 8 months, and I made the decision to go entirely to formula. I chose to exclusively pump rather than breastfeed because 1) being home alone with two preemies made breastfeeding logistically difficult and 2) I experienced severe D-MER. While it is not a condition that is well known or widely understood, it made breastfeeding (and even pumping) very difficult emotionally. I stuck with pumping though and managed to exclusively provide breastmilk for the first 7 months, and start supplementing the past month. And you know what? The boys are doing just fine! So for all you moms out there, just remember, whether or not you provide formula or breastmilk, you are providing for your little one(s). Don’t feel guilty or sad!

    Reply
  • rose November 14, 2013, 11:48 am

    I’m so happy I came along this post I’ve reached my 1 year mark of breastfeeding. My daughter latched on for the first 2 months but it was difficult so I decided to exclusively pump for her. Pumping is very time consuming and If I miss a pump session I cant concentrate on anything else but getting to my pump. Its a hard decision but I’m ready to stop and start her on cow milk. I’m glad I’m not the only one going through this I too feel guilty and I hope it goes away with time.

    Reply
  • Abby November 20, 2013, 4:51 pm

    So glad I found this post! I am in the process of weaning from pumping and going through the exact same emotions. One day I am ready to stop and then the next I want to continue. You’re right, Mommy Guilt is horrible, but I guess its unavoidable and at least now I know I am not alone in my feelings. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Sim December 17, 2013, 3:17 am

    I too exclusively pumped for six months and found your blog helpful during this time. Today is my first official day of no pumping and when I packed up the pump, I just started crying and crying and my hubby thought I was nuts as we’ve been talking about this day for months! It took me 6 weeks to wean, and I chose to drop one pump each week. I too was producing 40+ ozs/day, but my milk supply decreased by about 5ozs/week. My breasts are a little sore, but my mom insists that a good sports bra and a warm shower will work wonders if it gets too uncomfortable. I’m so happy that you posted your experience, bc like u said, there Are very few resources available for exclusive pumpers.

    Reply
  • Amy January 11, 2014, 12:09 am

    I’m so glad I found this post. I’ve been almost exclusively bf my son for 9 months and am going to stop in the next 6 weeks because of travel for work. We had to start giving 1 bottle of formula each day at 4 months – that was the worst. The mommy guilt was very strong then! Once I saw that he was doing fine with the 1 bottle of formula (actually – he sleeps a little better with formula), it got easier. I currently pump 3x a day and have for the last month. Hopefully, my weaning process won’t be quite as painful as I read about on here since I’ve slowly been decreasing the pumping over the last few months. (I started at 6-8 times a day: my son was never able to nurse at the breast – even with the help of a lactation consultant).
    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • Alexa January 27, 2014, 1:04 am

    Wow. I can’t believe i am not the only one going through exactly the same thing. I can’t take this pumping anymore. My work is demanding. Baby is 9 months old, and i am in the process of slowly tapering the pumping. At every step i feel the guilt and constantly want to go back on my decision. Thank you for posting this. Reading this i feel like what i am going through is normal and so am I for feeling this way.

    Reply
  • Katie B February 6, 2014, 11:32 am

    I have been pumping exclusivly for the past 3 months. It is just getting hard with work and what not so I decided to stop but I am stopping cold turkey and have never been in so much pain, EVER. If you don’t have to, I wouldn’t recommend it. I still have an abundant supply which makes me sad that I have to stop but its for the better. We have a stock of frozen milk that should get us through for quite some time.
    I bought some cabbage to try while i’m NOT around people as I hear it stinks, I’m going to buy sage tea on my lunch break today and am currently wearing two sports bras to help with the support needed. I can’t tell you how rock hard my breasts are and how much sleep I don’t get at night. This is day three of no pumping at all. I don’t want to go backwards at all but should I pump a little bit to help relieve pressure??? UGH I just don’t know…and want this to end ASAP.

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 6, 2014, 11:40 am

      Have you tried sudafed? That helped me a lot. I dumped what I did pump then.

      Reply
  • Adria February 13, 2014, 6:36 pm

    This is so helpful!! I pump exclusivly and work full time and it’s just been so difficult. I am quitting today, cold turkey. I know it’s going to be miserable but I just want to be done with it! But I’ve been feeling so selfish and sad; reading about your situation I feel better knowing that there is someone out there who feels the same way. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Dana February 16, 2014, 10:57 pm

    Just came back to your post to see how you weaned from pumping. My 13 month old is on a nursing strike and I’ve been pumping for a little over 2 weeks. 8 months of EP’ing was an amazing commitment! Nursing has been easy peasy for me…pumping is A LOT more work and I’m over it after just 2 weeks!

    Reply
  • Natosha February 25, 2014, 2:09 pm

    I just want to say thank you for writing about this. I have been exclusively breastfeeding due to my baby having gastroschisis when she was born. Lately my milk supply has been diminishing and I have been supplementing with frozen breastmilk I saved when my baby couldnt eat. She is 4 months now and doing great but the stress of my lack of milk has been so hard on me. I know I have enough frozen milk to take her close to 6 months when I can introduce cereal. I am having an immense amount of mommy guilt but having to pump for almost 45 mins to get barely half a feed for my babygirl is so hard on me. Its really good to know im not alone. Thanks for sharing. Keep on being a great mom and enjoy your little one.

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 25, 2014, 2:11 pm

      You too! You’re a great mom.

      Reply
  • Brenda February 26, 2014, 2:15 pm

    Thank you for the tips. I’ve been exclusively pumping for almost 8 months and my baby just got bronchiolitis, between having to do his breathing treatments every 4 hours, pump every 5 hours and also take care of my toddler daughter something has got to give, I’m ready to leave my pump and mommy guilt has been the only thing holding me back, I’m going to drop a pump every week. Nice to read about others in the same boat :)

    Reply
  • Em March 4, 2014, 10:59 pm

    Thank you! I have been exclusively pumping for 11 months due to thyroid/production and latching issues. My boys are 11 years apart and I have been determined to breastfeed with my second child since I did not with my first – weird, I know. I’ve been feeling tons of mommy guilt since other moms I know of breastfeed until their child is almost a year and a half(yikes). Reading your article makes me realize that I am not alone in my feelings and should feel a sense of accomplishment rather than guilt with my decision. My peanut turns one in exactly one week. For his birthday I will give him a mom that is less stressed and not always looking at the clock to pump. :)

    Reply
  • Dena March 5, 2014, 6:52 pm

    Thank you for posting this!! I have started started the weaning process a couple days ago – eliminating one pump every 4days. I must say there isn’t much information online that helps figure out how to do this.

    Reply
  • Stacy March 11, 2014, 12:36 pm

    Thank you for this post…I have come to the decision to “quit” after 7 months of BF/pumping for the same reasons you have posted. I feel so much guilt since this is my last child. Society can be so mean sometimes!! I keep saying to myself, it is better to have a Happy Mommy with formula, then Unhappy Mommy with breastmilk!! I am at day 2 with only doing it twice a day. Not sure where to go from here…lol. When do you stop cold turkey?

    Reply
  • Stephanie March 13, 2014, 4:04 pm

    Omgosh–THANK YOU! So much for writing this! I am you–this post is about me!! You are right, there are so few of us. I have only 1 person I’ve just recently found (on my 2nd child) that exclusively pumps that I know (and only have contact with her because of FB!)
    When I weaned my first child I read some bad info and tried cold turkey (and had been pumping >60 oz/day) —O.M.G. Terrible. Then I finally called a lactation consultant in my local area (had been avoiding human contact for help due to guilt) and she was so amazing and helped me wean. I didn’t write down what I did though. So here I am on my second child, and I come across your blog! I so appreciate you writing this.
    I’m on day 1 of weaning. Thanks for writing your plan–I don’t have to have quite as strict of a schedule, although we do have an international trip coming in a little over a month, so need to be ready for that. Just had to write and tell you that it really does help to see another mama’s plan in action!

    Reply
  • Bethany March 14, 2014, 12:23 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I have had to exclusively pump for 6 months and although I never had a great supply, I was able to provide at least two bottles of breast milk a day. I am now working towards stopping but the guilt is eating me alive. Of course, logically, I know everything is fine and pumping so much is hard work. I am now down to pumping 2x a day and after Sunday I am going to move to 1x a day and then stop. I have many of the same feelings and it sucks. It is also hard to explain to my husband and i know he wants to be supportive but unfortunately there is little he can say that makes me feel better:(

    I know we may be a small group of women that exclusively pump but it is nice to hear from others.

    Reply
  • Chrisi March 19, 2014, 4:20 pm

    I am currently contemplating stopping pumping, and this article gave me encouragement. Thank you for your honesty. I have read and been told it sucks and hurts to quit, but I really appreciate knowing the process. Thank you for your suggestions.

    Reply
  • Jill March 19, 2014, 5:38 pm

    I really appreciate you writing this. I am currently exclusively pumping and am about to go back to work. My supply never fully came in I don’t think and have had trouble keeping up with my 6 week old. He will be 8 weeks when I go back to work and start to formula feed. I haven’t found a lot of support for pumping moms so thank you for sharing your experience!!

    Reply
  • Jo March 19, 2014, 9:37 pm

    I am in the process of weaning from exclusively pumping too. Wow, this is hard. I appreciate your experience and your advice. This is my third time weaning from pumping in four years: my girls are 4 years, 18 months and 3 months. It is just too time consuming now that I’m back to work. I hate stopping when I have so much milk but I just can’t do it anymore, and I feel very guilty about “quitting”. I try to remind myself that less time pumping and washing pumping supplies and more time sleeping through the night (which the baby does but I still wake up to pump) are good for my whole family. I have a ton of frozen milk and will thaw a bag a day for approximately the next two months baby will have at least some breast milk in her diet. Good luck to you. Good work for keeping the pumping going as long as you did!

    Reply
  • Sam March 25, 2014, 1:20 pm

    I’m in the position of deciding to wean after only a few weeks of pumping. I was never able to get nursing to work despite lots of help from nurses and lactation consultants… and pumping has been so painful despite everything I’ve tried. I managed to pump for 2 months with my first baby, but this time I’m just not willing to torture myself any longer. I feel good knowing that he at least will have the first month of breastmilk. It’s definitely a tough and emotional decision.

    Reply
  • Emily March 31, 2014, 3:15 pm

    Thanks for this. I am in the process of quitting too and even though I am sooo excited for it to be done, it still sucks because I still have milk too. He’s 9 months and my husband and I have worked so hard but I feel like it’s time for a break for all of us. It’s good to know other people felt the same way I feel now in stopping pumping.

    Reply
  • BrieAnna April 8, 2014, 11:43 pm

    Thank you. I know this was written a whole ago, but I relate 100%. I’m going through it now. Every word you said about the process, emotions, and guilt have been identical for me. Except I think I may feel worse. My first child was formula fed, not enough production-or any. I cried and cried because I couldn’t make anything for him and I tried for 5 weeks. My second was both formula and breast milk fed. I pumped for 8 weeks with her but had to supplement with formula the whole time. I made some, but not enough to feed her each day. I just had my third at the end of December and I’ve been able to pump 100% of her meals. I did feed her formula at night sometimes because I didn’t want to pump at night and didn’t always have extra to warm up. Anyway, I kept going back and forth with the decision but with my circumstances I felt like it was the best thing. I’m no longer pumping but still feel it in my breasts (soreness, knots, leaking).
    I’ve had a very difficult time, emotionally, with this. I struggled with the first two and was actually able to this time around. Why on earth would I stop now that I can actually make enough for her? The guilt is awful. But I then go back to the reasons for stopping in the first place and come to the same conclusion. I wish I could let it go and have peace about it. Maybe some day…

    Reply
  • Marissa Lerer April 9, 2014, 5:12 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. I have twins and I have been exclusively pumping for them since they were born. They were in the NICU for a month and never really took to breast feeding so I pumped. I’m about to hit 8 months and I feel like I need to stop. I really want to but I really don’t at the same time. I appreciate that others are going through the same thing.

    Reply

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