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For more on the topic of breastfeeding: Why I’m Stopping and Stopping Exclusively Pumping, Part I

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The Plan:  I detailed my plan for stopping in this post. I didn’t want to stop cold turkey (ouch), but I didn’t want the process to take forever, either.  Once I was ready to be done, I was ready to be done. In total, the process took 2.5 weeks. First, I focused on dropping ounces, and then I focused on eliminating pumps, dropping the middays ones before the morning and night pumps. The last 4 or 5 days of the process involved pumping on one side every 24 – 36 hours, so it was truly no big deal.  Also, randomly, a week after my ‘last pump,’ I felt a duct fill up on my right side and had to hand express it.  It was strange! 

 

The Physical Deets: Stopping pumping was hell.  I hated every single minute of the process, with the exception of the times that I got to wake up or go to bed without pumping. Winking smile That was nice!

 

Stopping pumping after producing a full supply for 8 months was extremely uncomfortable, if not sometimes straight-up painful. I was engorged and leaking for the better part of the first week.  I tried several things to reduce the pain – cabbage compresses, Ibuprofen, and Sudafed.  Cabbage compresses in my bra made me feel ridiculous, like I was suffering through one more physical indignity of childbirth and motherhood.  I don’t know how much they helped, although ancedotal evidence is strong. Ibuprofen and Sudafed made the biggest difference, especially the Sudafed, which I took because it has a side-effect of drying up your milk.

 

Also – exercise!  If I was really engorged, running hurt too much, but if I wasn’t too bad, banging out 30 – 45 minutes of cardio seemed to temporarily reduce my supply and therefore lessen the pain. I noticed this while I was breastfeeding, too. Studies show exercise does not impact supply, but in my personal experience, it did impact my supply in the short-term (clearly not in the long term).

exclusively pumping

The Emotional Side:  It’s hard to write about my emotions surrounding stopping without sounding like I’m making commentary on formula feeders or long-term breastfeeders, but I’m not. I just want to say how the process made me feel… and seriously, the LAST thing I want to do is make someone else feel bad about their choices. Our society gives moms (and dads) enough crap; I don’t want to add to the pile. So read my thoughts with that in mind.

 

I was really broken up about stopping breastfeeding, mainly because 1) I had a full supply and pumping was (relatively) easy; 2) I feel that breast milk is the ideal food for a baby; and 3) the only reasons I wanted to stop pumping were purely selfish. I hadn’t physically breastfed for more than 6 months (due to lots of things – shyness about breastfeeding in public, fast letdown, flat nipples that required a shield, and more).  When you combine those three factors, it was extremely hard to give myself the ‘permission’ to stop without feeling guilty.  Shouldn’t I be able to sacrifice my needs for Henry’s? Doesn’t this make me a bad mom?

 

What helped me stop with a clear conscience was 1) a few good therapy sessions about the topic (thank God for therapy); and 2) your comments!  Seriously, all of your comments on my breastfeeding posts and Facebook pleas really helped me. Hearing from other women that it was okay to put myself ‘first’ was so, so amazing and really took away the guilt.  One commenter said that I needed to just STOP feeling bad.  It was such a simple concept – just STOP – and I jumped on it immediately. I refuse to feel bad about this choice.  I just refuse.  I’m at peace with this decision.

 

It’s easy to be at peace with the choice when I see how AWESOME the other side of breastfeeding is (this is when I don’t want people to jump down my throats – I’m not dissing breastfeeding or suggesting people don’t do it, I’m just being honest). For 8 months, breastfeeding ruled my life. I experienced all the ‘bad’ things about breastfeeding with none of the ‘benefits’ (cuddling).  I pumped five to six times a day. It was the first thing I did in the morning and the last thing at night. Pumping was always on my mind – when and where will I pump? I pumped in my bathroom, in my living room, in my car, in rental cars, in airplane bathrooms, in stalls of public restrooms.  I washed my pump parts thousands of times. To go to sleep without having to pump – AMAZING.  To wake up without full breasts – AMAZING. I can’t even describe how wonderful it feels to not have this ‘chore’ on my mind all time.

 

Ch-Ch-Changes:  While pregnant and breastfeeding, my appetite (and caloric needs) were off the chart. Did you know that breastfeeding burns an extra 500-odd calories a day? That’s like running an extra four miles, everyday.  I was so used to eating my face off and having an insatiable appetite. Things are slowly returning to normal. I’m eating in response to hunger cues, so I think it will all pan out in the end.

 

During pregnancy, I gained 35 pounds.  I’m currently a few pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight.  Thanks to an active pregnancy, exercise post-pregnancy, a health diet, and a hefty dose of genetics and luck, my body pretty much looks like it did before pregnancy (which I find amazing).  The one difference?  My breasts.  Oh, my breasts.  I went up FOUR cup sizes during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and it only took 3 weeks for my breasts to shrink back to their pre-pregnancy size.  Things are predictably – ahhh – saggier than they were before. It was worth it, though.

 

The other amazing part of stopping? MY BRAS! I owned two bras in my breastfeeding size, and one broke five months ago. That means I wore the same bra every single day (I did a lot of handwashing). It was a ‘specialty’ size so I didn’t want to buy another $80 bra when I knew I’d be stopping soon.  I recently pulled down all my pre-pregnancy clothes and hung them back up in my closet; it was so great to see all my old bras and wear my old shirts again.  I have a dozen options now!  

 

Other Random Thoughts:  People who use formula say breastfeeding is inconvenient; people who breastfeed say formula is inconvenient.  There are pros and cons to each method, I think.  But I do have to say that I find formula on par with pumped milk in terms of ease of use.  There’s no pump parts to wash (yay), although I’m still washing bottles.  Formula can only be out of the fridge for an hour, which sucks compared to pumped milk (I followed a 6 – 8 hour rule).  This mixing pitcher and this dispenser are lifesavers!

 

The Million Dollar Question: Will I breastfeed Henry’s little brother or sister? You bet. I’m going to try really hard to make physically breastfeeding work. I think I could get over the emotional issues that I had about breastfeeding, but the physical barriers will still be there. I’m going to give it a shot. If I do end up exclusively pumping again, that’s okay.  After breastfeeding for two months and exclusively pumping for another six, I know I could do it again.  I don’t know if I’ll last as long, but I certainly will try. And when it comes time to put away the pump and peel open a can of formula, I’ll do it with peace in my heart. Being a parent is hard enough – there’s no reason to make myself feel bad over how I feed my children.

 

And with that, I feel that my pregnancy journey is really and truly over.  It began way back in September 2011, and now, for the first time in a long time, my body is all mine.  It’s a great feeling… who knows how long it will last.  Maybe less time than I think!  Winking smile

{ 88 comments }

 

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  • Nelly March 18, 2013, 9:42 am

    Uh oh does that mean #2 is on the way!?!?!

    Reply
  • Jules March 18, 2013, 9:49 am

    My children are now 5 and 6 and i only managed 4 days of breastfeeding with my first child. You’re maybe the first blogger who breastfed who hasn’t made me feel a failure because of my choice. I could kiss you.
    Good luck with the many other hurdles of parenthood, x

    Jules x

    Reply
  • Halsy March 18, 2013, 9:51 am

    I think it is awesome you kept up the pumping for as long as you did! I’m not sure I could have done that…just pumping once of twice a day for oats was more than enough for me. I am fortunate that for the past 10 months the only issue we have had was some serious oversupply for the first couple of months. Also my daughter would not take a bottle. So I’m glad it has worked out thus far and hope my supply lasts for the next couple months as we start to drop feedings. My hope is for her to be weaned by 13 months…we are at 6 feedings at roughly 10 months so we will see. I think moms in general tend to beat ourselves up too much about our decisions. We just need to do whaf is overall best for our families and leave it st that. For some that’s breastfeeding, for others it’s formula or a mixture of the two. It’s not our job to worry about others families decisions (as long as neglect isn’t involved etc.). I thinks some people hate on others decisions because they desperately need to find a way to justify their own. I’m do glad you are at peace with your decision.

    Reply
  • Jessica March 18, 2013, 9:55 am

    Girl you are awesome. I love this post. I love all of your thought provoking posts, actually. ;) My son is 11 months and we are still EBF, but it is definitely challenging at times. He is so distractible, and I want to keep up supply for when he wants/needs it, he still wakes in middle of the night bc he is hungry and I feed him..anyway, I had the flat nipple problem and needed a shield. I thought it would be the end of me/BF, but eventually it did “pull my nipples out” (hot, i know) and I was actually able to stop using them at about two months. i think if i had to continue using them I would not be bf still. anyway kudos to you! ONto a new chapter!

    Reply
  • Ashley O. @ The Vegetable Life March 18, 2013, 9:56 am

    As somebody whose schedule and life right now is ruled by an exclusivly pumping routine, these posts are really helpful mentally :) Thanks!

    Reply
  • Tammy Root March 18, 2013, 10:05 am

    Great post Caitlin. I especially love the last paragraph…so true. I’m very happy for you. You’re a rock star mom and Henry knows it.

    Reply
  • Shelby March 18, 2013, 10:07 am

    Is it just me or did you just drop two subtle hints that #2 is in the works?!?
    “Will I breastfeed Henry’s little brother or sister”
    AND “Maybe less time than I think” referring to having your body all to yourself….

    You two make cute babies, I’m all for more of them :)

    Reply
  • Margaret March 18, 2013, 10:09 am

    From the bottom of my heart, good for you. I think that if you are not happy as a mom, how can your home life be happy? How can your little one be as happy as he can be? There are limits to this, of course, but I think if more moms took care of their emotional and physical health, we’d all raise healthier, happier babies. There is nothing like the guilt of the breastfeeding dilema. We tried everything under the sun save the prescription meds, and I was unbelievably depressed about it. A constant reminder that I was “failing” as a mom when I couldn’t feed our baby enough. When I finally decided to just stop, I can’t even tell you how much happier it made me, and has continued to make me. I now enjoy my little one on a level far higher than when I was struggling physically and emotionally with breastfeeding. So I just can’t buy it when peeps want to make it as simple as “breast is best.” Breast isn’t always best. Not if it means a depressed, anxious, etc. mom. Kudos to you, your healthy baby, and your healthy perspective. And kudos to owning that the decision was for “selfish” reasons (though I think in this case these “selfish” reasons really impact your whole family, so perhaps not so selfish?) We have to make it possible for women to just be honest about their choices and move on.

    Reply
  • Charity dawn March 18, 2013, 10:17 am

    Talk to your doctor about the 1 hour rule. I thought the same but Alexander will only drink 2 oz at a time from a sippy and only if it’s cold. She said in that case I can leave it out for a couple of hours or just keep putting it in the fridge. The problem is when formula is warmed then cooled then warmed again. If Henry will drink it cold the 1 hour rule does not apply!

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 18, 2013, 10:51 am

      Nice!

      Reply
  • Erin March 18, 2013, 10:19 am

    Good for you! I’m glad you are at peace with the decision. You felt guilty, and you got over it. Henry is a happy healthy baby with a happy momma.
    I’m not sure about you, but even with a 8.5 month old I am already itching to have another. I never thought that would happen so soon! I would love to see my daughter as a big sister.

    Reply
  • Abby March 18, 2013, 10:20 am

    It is sooo amazing to have your body be all your own again! Not to mention the extra free time when you don’t have to pump and clean pump parts. Just wait until Henry is done with bottles all together, its a beautiful thing to pack up all the pump parts and bottles (or in our case, give them all away since we are only having one). You should be super proud of yourself for breastfeeding as long as you did, that’s no small thing mama!

    Reply
  • Linda March 18, 2013, 10:21 am

    This is such a great post!! I wish all women with babies would wake up in the morning with your breastfeeding/pumping posts in their email. This is such a great attitude to have and so reassuring to other mom’s out there. Congrats on feeling you have your body back – you did it!! You also have a beautiful baby as a result of this whole process.

    Reply
  • Sarah @ Yogi in Action March 18, 2013, 10:28 am

    Wow- what an amazing journey. It’s crazy to imagine not having my body as mine for a year and a half. Thanks for being so honest about the ups (and downs) of being a mom. I love reading about it- even though I’m years from having my own children.

    I think 8 months of breastfeeding is something to brag about, and definitely have no guilt over. Good for you!

    Reply
  • Amy @ Healthy and Fit for Real March 18, 2013, 10:47 am

    Great post, very insightful. As a dietitian, I try to encourage mothers to breast feed as much as they are able to but not being a mother myself I don’t push it too much. I figure if you can do it for 2 hours or a year, it is beneficial. If not, that’s your choice too and nobody should give you grief for such a personal decision.

    Reply
  • Rebecca March 18, 2013, 10:51 am

    Thank you for this. I am breastfeeding my 9 month old, but I’m starting to look forward to the day that we’re finished (my goal is 1 year). Sometimes I feel guilty about that, but your post really helped me gain some perspective. I truly believe a happy mama makes for a happy baby.

    Reply
  • Eli's mom March 18, 2013, 10:51 am

    Very well written, Caitlin. I applaud you for sharing your thoughts to other moms. Thank you. :)

    Reply
  • KAS March 18, 2013, 11:08 am

    “It’s a great feeling… who knows how long it will last. Maybe less time than I think! ” = what does that even mean? It’s not like you can pregnant without knowing it, certainly not if you have an IUD!

    Reply
    • Shannon March 18, 2013, 1:02 pm

      The body works in mysterious ways! I have a friend who got pregnant while using an IUD. It’s extremely rare, but we only have so much control. I think her comment was spot on… You never know!

      Reply
  • Whitney March 18, 2013, 11:13 am

    I’m so happy you have found peace with your decision! Good for you!! You are a great mom :)

    Reply
  • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) March 18, 2013, 11:15 am

    I agree with a few others – 8 months of breastfeeding is HUGE and such an accomplishment. Some people might view this as glass 1/2 empty as in “You only made it 8 months? You could have kept going.” But I choose to view this as 1/2 full as in “Girl, you rocked it for 8 months and gave your ALL during that time. Kudos to you momma.” Ya know??

    I am exclusively pumping (have been since my daughter was 3.5 months, she’s now almost 11 months). Ive been slowly weaning off the pump (by stretching time between pumps) and it has not been bad at all!! Yay! I totally recommend this method of weaning. For a while I was pumping every 5 hrs, then every 6, then every 8, and now I’m pumping every 10-11, or 2x a day. My goal is to be done with the pump by 11.5 months and then use my freezer stash for the last little while, and if I run out before she’s 1 year, then formula it is! Totally ok with that.

    Love these posts!! No guilt! Love that.

    Reply
  • Heather March 18, 2013, 11:20 am

    I’m currently trying to stop pumping and I’ve been increasing the amount of time between pumps and have decreased my time per pumping by 5minutes per our pediatrician’s advice and my supply is increasing. I guess its the not worrying about how much I’m getting, but I think I’ll go back and read your first post to see what else I can do.

    Reply
  • Callina March 18, 2013, 11:22 am

    Thanks for sharing your experiences w/ breastfeeding, pumping, and formula feeding. My daughter is 7 months old and has been breastfed but lately my supply hasn’t been able to keep up with her demand, so we are supplementing with formula, and I’ve been doing all I can to keep up breastfeeding as much as possible, and dealing with feelings of guilt about the “F” word also. There’s really nothing easy about any of it, but I think that’s just true of parenting in general :)

    Reply
  • Grace March 18, 2013, 11:24 am

    Man, you make it seem so easy, you make us regular moms feel bad. ;) The perfect med-free birth you wanted, no PPD, no pain with breastfeeding, no thrush, no mastitis, great supply (I am still in absolute AWE that you were able to make enough milk for Henry with 5-6 5 minute pumping sessions a day, that is unreal!), running a triathlon at, what, 3 months post-partum? Henry sleeping through the night at 5 months (you should be the poster child for sleep training!), having a great supportive husband AND having supportive family in town (DadHTP sounds so awesome), getting to work from home and set your own schedule, and being under your pre-pregnancy weight to top it all off? You should make up some parenting-relating problems and post them just to make the rest of us feel a little better!

    Seriously, though, congrats on finishing pumping, it is a wonderful feeling to be finished. I pumped every day (on top of nursing) during my 3 month maternity leave to build up a frozen milk supply, and then every day at work for another 9 months. I was also lucky that like you pumping was easy for me, no real pain or hassles (although I can’t imagine 5 minute pumping sessions – crazy!), but I was so glad when I was through! It was so freeing to no longer worry about having enough milk for the next day while I was at work, pumping extra at night after my daughter went to bed to keep up my stash of milk, my daughter reverse-cycling and nursing all night, worrying about my work performance because of pumping cutting into my job duties… all of that, over and done! It is a great feeling.

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 18, 2013, 12:08 pm

      Haha oh if it makes you feel better, I did have thrush! And there were quote a few closet sob sessions at the beginning.

      Reply
  • Brittany March 18, 2013, 11:25 am

    Way to go, Caitlin! I just shared this post with the EP’ing community on Facebook. A lot of the ladies there are weaning and your experience will be so so helpful. You’re a rockstar and Henry is so lucky to have you as a mommy.

    Reply
  • Stephanie March 18, 2013, 11:25 am

    Kudos, Momma. I think you’re pretty awesome. I’m going to try to breast feed when I have my baby in July, but I’ve had breast reconstruction surgery and was told it may not work for me. :-\ That being said… what formula are you feeding Henry? I’ve done some research and I’m just not sure which is the ‘best,’ or most ideal.

    Reply
  • Kathleen Ojo @Onward; Inward March 18, 2013, 11:36 am

    Between my own experience (still breastfeeding at 8 months), and the experiences of my friends who either start out with formula or pump, I have concluded the following: breastfeeding is easy (for those who can and choose to). Formula is easy. Exclusively pumping is HARD!! I only pump 2-3x per day now so that my daughter can take bottles while I’m at work, and it’s stressful for me. I don’t let down well to the pump in the first place, and the stress of making time during the day for it is just…. not fun. You are an amazing mama for a) following what you believe despite the judgements (being in the public eye as you are, I assume you’ve had your share of harsh comments!) and b) doing what you believe is best for your baby AND for you, even though it was hard and inconvenient, and being willing to adapt as your needs change. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us!

    Reply
  • Hannah March 18, 2013, 11:37 am

    Thank you for this post. My son is 6 1/2 mos old and we have exclusively breastfed – from the breast – I can’t get him to take a pumped bottle. And although breastfeeding has come relatively easy for me but it is so so emotionally and physically draining. I can’t be away from him for more than a few hours at a time and as much as I love him I sometimes just need a break with some time for just me. It’s nice to hear others stories because it simply makes me feel not so alone in this journey o motherhood. I too am thankful for a wonderful husband that does everything he possibly can to help me out. To all mothers out there – you are wonderful and you are not alone.

    Reply
  • Amanda, RD- The Nutritionist Reviews March 18, 2013, 11:38 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I am bookmarking this for one day when I have a child.

    Reply
  • Sarah March 18, 2013, 11:49 am

    You may have already mentioned this somewhere else but what kind of formula do you use? I’m due in May and hoping breastfeeding works out but just in case, it is quite overwhelming the amount of choices that are out there!

    Reply
  • Kristi March 18, 2013, 11:54 am

    I also dealt with oversupply and fast letdown and had to use shields in the beginning due to crazy engorgement. Every feed was a huge ordeal – often with my baby choking on the letdown then screaming. Every 2 hours for 2 months. I didn’t pump because I was afraid of increasing my supply. Almost exactly at the 3 month mark my supply regulated down and magically my baby has spaced his feedings and the theatrics are gone. It makes the thought of nursing in public much less scary and I no longer dread feedings. All of this to say when #2 comes around maybe try until around the 3 month mark (at least for the letdown issue). I also have a few friends with flat nipples who were able to get off the shields around 6-8 weeks. There is nothing wrong with formula but I do think you’d feel differently if you were able to exclusively breastfeed instead of exclusively pumping. There is no way I could pump all day every day and then still have to bottlefeed! It’s amazing you were ever able to leave the house!

    Reply
  • Maria March 18, 2013, 12:06 pm

    Caitlin, you really know how to leave your readers with a cliffhanger. What a tease! :-)

    Reply
  • Carolina John March 18, 2013, 12:28 pm

    Now the other fun part of “the end of nursing” – you get to have a period again! oh joy. but I guess there’s also beer too. Enjoy the freedom while it lasts. It took 9 months to get the body all messed up, and it takes 9 months to get it straightened out again. Fantastic job getting your weight back down! You look incredible (as always) these days.

    Reply
  • Kelley March 18, 2013, 12:30 pm

    Great post! Congrats, Caitlin! You’re an amazing mama.

    Reply
  • Lisa March 18, 2013, 12:44 pm

    Raising a child is hard enough without all the added pressures we/society lay on ourselves.

    You do what you gotta do to make it to tomorrow!

    8 months of breast milk for a baby is something to be very proud of!

    Was this post a hint at something? Or are you toying with us?

    Reply
  • yasmara March 18, 2013, 12:45 pm

    I just want to say that breastfeeding can be a completely different experience with a different baby & a more experienced mom. Breastfeeding was a big struggle with my first & he ended up rejecting the breast *completely* at 6 months. After tons of struggling to get him back on the breast and a period of EPing, I finally let it go & switched to 100% bottles/formula.

    My 2nd was a champion nurser & except for a slow start (my milk was a bit slow to come in, so he got a few bottles to keep him close to his birth weight), BFing was completely easy. In fact, it swung in completely the *opposite* direction & I ended up working FT with a baby who, after my milk finally came in, wouldn’t take a bottle. At all. Ever. Not even when I was at work 70 miles away (combo long-commuting/working at home job at the time) & he was in daycare. He made up for it by eating solid food during the day (after 6 months) and co-sleeping/night-nursing at night, but it was not ideal. I finally night-weaned & sleep-trained when he was 15 months old.

    Neither of those stories seems ideal, but I actually have positive memories of feeding both my kids…and believe it or not, it’s really not anything I think about at all (except when reading a post like this!) now that they are almost-8 and 6.

    Reply
  • Kristen March 18, 2013, 12:59 pm

    ARE YOU PREGGERS??!!

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 18, 2013, 1:33 pm

      No!

      Reply
      • Jessica March 18, 2013, 3:27 pm

        LOL I thought that commenter was KristIen lol- like was hoping he would know if you were pregnant LOL.

        Reply
  • Brie March 18, 2013, 1:22 pm

    I hate pumping. Major props to you for going this long!

    C is 6 months now and we are breastfeeding and pumping. I can’t keep up with his appetite–he eats a monstrous amount (um, 18-22 oz. at daycare) and I only pump about 2/3 of what he needs. My freezer stash will be gone in a little bit and we’ll have to switch to formula and there’s so many emotions that go with it.

    A friend of mine recommended the book “Bottled Up” and the Fearless Formula Feeder blog–might want to check those out.

    Reply
    • Stacy K. March 18, 2013, 4:49 pm

      I’m in the same position as you Brie. I am barely able to pump enough to cover what G eats while he is at day care…thats on a good day. Today is the first day where he will receive 1 full formula bottle due to not being able to add extra pumps in this weekend on top of our breastfeeding.

      I’m feeling all kinds of emotions today. I’ve cried in the office bathroom a few times and while I do plan to continue breastfeeding and pumping while I’m at work, some days I wonder if the pumping is worth the stress of if I can make enough. I’m off to check out the book Bottled Up and the blog. Thank you!

      Reply
      • Katie March 18, 2013, 6:54 pm

        It sounds like your childcare providers may be overgrazing your baby. 1.25 oz/ hour of separation is a guide. Check out “paced bottle feeding” on Kellymom.com. Overgrazing breastfeed babies is a common problem when providers are used to formula feed babies. Good luck!

        Reply
        • Katie March 18, 2013, 7:12 pm

          Over feeding. Overgrazing must have been an autocorrect!

          Reply
      • Jazz March 18, 2013, 8:09 pm

        I have to suppliment due to low supply/ latch/ etc…and LOVE that blog, you’ll find a lot of encouragement there.

        Reply
      • Rose March 18, 2013, 8:31 pm

        Unless your baby is night weaned I think your day care providers may be overfeeding. They are likely used to formula fed babies who need more ounces than BF babies. Have you seen this: http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/milkcalc/? This is a good article about how to appropriately feed babies with a bottle: http://nurturedchild.ca/index.php/2010/12/10/baby-led-bottle-feeding/.

        Reply
  • Jolene (Homespun Heritage) March 18, 2013, 1:58 pm

    I tried nursing my first child but due to certain circumstances I was not able to successfully. My 2nd and now 3rd babies have both been fully breastfed kiddos and I am very grateful I was able to get beyond the original circumstances and be successful! Definitely give it another go with the next one and another thing I’ve found that is the nursing in public thing went away a bit more by the 3rd kiddo….still a nervous nurser but its better now…

    Reply
  • Karen @ Runner Girl Eats March 18, 2013, 2:03 pm

    I am so far away from having kids but really enjoyed these posts. It’s very comforting to hear someone be so honest about such a hot topic. Children have been surviving and thriving on breast milk and/or formula for years. To each their own :)

    Reply
  • Courtney Robinson March 18, 2013, 2:16 pm

    A little off topic, but I just watched the documentary Miss Representation the other day- I don’t know if you have seen it but I thought you would definitely enjoy it, if you haven’t already watched it!

    Reply
  • Jill - A Little Baby Bean March 18, 2013, 2:21 pm

    Great post Caitlin! And a huge CONGRATULATIONS! I know what you mean about your pregnancy journey being over – I feel like I am still very much in the midst of mine as a breastfeeding mum – I’ve brought this up with friends a few times (who do not have kids), and they don’t quite understand it! Nice to hear someone else put that feeling into words, I am not the only one!

    Reply
  • Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction.com March 18, 2013, 2:34 pm

    Good for you! Thanks for being so open about this topic. I cannot picture myself breastfeeding (don’t have a baby yet), but commend mothers who do! Yo are a great mom, it’s important to realize that everyone is different, and what works for one mother/baby, may not work for another. Doesn’t mean one or the other is wrong, just different.

    Reply
  • Nicole March 18, 2013, 3:07 pm

    Awesome post! I quit breast feeding my first at 9 months, and was pregnant two months later. I wish I would have had my body all to myself for a little longer. Enjoy every minute of it while you can!

    Reply
  • Christina March 18, 2013, 3:50 pm

    I think it’s great that you’re doing what works for you and your baby. My baby self-weaned at 8 months and it was bittersweet.

    My only question is why cabbage leaves made you feel “ridiculous, like I was suffering through one more physical indignity of childbirth and motherhood”? Perhaps I am in the minority but I don’t see one thing about childbirth or motherhood to be a physical indignity. Things like self-expressing the boobs or cabbage leaves in my bra kind of made me feel like I was in the “weird stuff that moms do” club but I’d never call any of it an indignity. Just my two cents and own experience.

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 18, 2013, 4:36 pm

      oh man, you’re a stronger woman than i am. you didn’t think pooping on the table and peeing in your midwife’s face was a physical indignity? i did!

      Reply
      • Grace March 18, 2013, 9:01 pm

        I never thought of any aspect of giving birth or breastfeeding as a physical indignity, even the bowel movement while giving birth. Honestly, I was distracted by the whole “I’m pushing a brand new living being out of me!” thing at the time. And the pain was a little distracting, too. ;)

        Your body and the amazing things that you’ve done with it – giving birth, breastfeeding – are things to be ashamed of or humiliated by, that’s propagating the typical patriarchal nonsense that women’s bodies are “gross,” like saying that your period makes you “dirty.” Doesn’t that kind of go against “Operation Beautiful”? Honestly, saying stuff like that makes it seem like you do have some body image issues – you shouldn’t be ashamed of or embarrassed by motherhood!

        Reply
        • Erika March 19, 2013, 12:30 pm

          The physical indignity comment caught me off guard, too, but only with the motherhood part. I’m pregnant with my first and I’m in no way under the impression that my body is going to look how it did after childbirth and breastfeeding, although I’m sure I’ll have my share of struggles with coming to terms with all of that afterward. But I agree with Grace, I hope that you only see your Henry as a blessing and that your body is a beautiful vessel that really, did what it’s most biologically tuned to do – raising and having a healthy baby! That’s not to say I think all women should make babies, not at all, I’m just saying that our internal equipment is just very primed for such an endeavor :-).

          Reply
  • Catherine March 18, 2013, 4:31 pm

    This is such a fantastic, insightful post! I can definitely relate to the feelings of guilt. I also had problems with breastfeeding, but it had more to do with my baby’s reflux. Truthfully, I got tired of feeding her and then wearing more than half of what she just “ate.” Of course she’d still be hungry, and I’d have a screaming baby while I tried to clean up. It was just disastrous, and I dreaded feeding time. Her pediatrician advised me to pump and add rice cereal to her bottles when she was only 6 weeks old. I despised pumping, and I definitely didn’t do it often enough. My supply slowly tapered and then disappeared when my baby was only 3 months. I was criticized and constantly felt like I had to explain why I switched to formula. I felt like I could have tried harder.

    Sometimes I think my feelings about stopping were relative to other people’s attitudes and experiences. For example, my baby was born June 10, and my last pumping session was on September 9. When you announced you were stopping, my first thought was “Wow, I wish I had been able to hold on for this long… and she feels guilty about it?!” However, if I had gone 8 months, I probably would have felt guilty when other moms talked about going the full year. It’s such a harmful mentality because everyone has different experiences, lifestyles, and struggles.

    My second is due in October, and I will definitely be giving it another shot. Of course I really (REALLLLLY) hope it works out this time, but like you, I’m not going to allow myself to feel horrible if it doesn’t. I’ll have too much other shit to stress over, such as dividing my time between a newborn and a toddler. Geesh.

    Reply
  • Michelle March 18, 2013, 5:21 pm

    Congrats on finishing pumping and breastfeeding. I’m currently still EBFing my 7.5 month old son and while I don’t have any plans to stop soon, I have days where I do crave having my body completely back again as well.
    I do have a question as to why you were so shy about breastfeeding in public? Perhaps I am stretching out assumptions here, but as the founder of Operation Beautiful, it seems like breastfeeding in public would be in line with everything that you believe in, re: self-esteem, positive-thinking, self-acceptance. I don’t believe in whipping out the girls out in full-display, exhibitionist-style, but I do think that discreetly nursing, whether with a drapey shirt, blanket or nursing cover is completely acceptable. It’s not like people don’t know what’s going on, and also, 50% of the population have the same parts! This isn’t a comment promoting breastfeeding or questioning your decision to stop by any means. I don’t have strong feelings as to whether people breastfeed or not. As a physician, I think breastfeeding is great, but not the end-all and be-all. I certainly feel like women are wrongfully vilified if they do not breastfeed, whether it was by choice or beyond their control. I’m just trying to understand your aversion to breastfeeding in public.

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 18, 2013, 5:23 pm

      It’s really easy to be discreet when you have small breasts. It is 100% NOT easy to be discreet when you have large (and I am LARGE) breasts and you need to wear a nipple shield. In fact, it’s almost impossible.

      Reply
      • Jennifer March 18, 2013, 6:49 pm

        SO TRUE!!! My boobs got gigantic during pregnancy and were absolutely HUGE the whole time I was nursing. My nipples also flattened out (likely because they got so big) so I had to use a shield. It was a major production every time my kids wanted to eat. There was no way I could have done it in public without flashing a lot of flesh.

        Reply
      • Morgan March 18, 2013, 9:56 pm

        This is absolutely true. I wear a 32GG bra when not nursing, so while breastfeeding my boobs are nuts. I always laugh when people say that the baby’s head will hide your boob, umm my boobs are at least twice the size of a baby head lol. I was lucky to not have flat nipples so I used a nursing cover, but I am absolutely stunned and jealous when I see how little most women are able to show while nursing.

        Reply
        • Caitlin March 19, 2013, 8:32 am

          same

          Reply
  • Kate @KateMovingForward March 18, 2013, 5:46 pm

    Thank you for being so honest and open and non-judgemental about your pregnancy and all the “mom” stuff. It gives me real peace and clarity that I don’t have to live up to anyone else’s standards or what works for me. I can take this on my and my future child’s terms–no need to feel pressured or guilty. Thanks for that. :)

    Reply
  • Crystal March 18, 2013, 5:53 pm

    Hi Caitlin, I don’t comment very often but I have to say that I appreciate your honesty about pregnancy and breastfeeding, etc. Sometimes bloggers sugarcoat their experiences (in my opinion) and the reality is that while having a baby is wonderful, there are a lot of struggles that come with it. Being a mother is probably the hardest job in the world!

    Reply
  • Jess March 18, 2013, 6:12 pm

    Good for you, mama! I so appreciate you being open on this topic and sharing a little bit about your experience + your emotions. I needed to hear much of this. My daughter is 6 months old and we’ve had a lot (lot, lot, lot!) of struggles with breastfeeding. I’m still exclusively breastfeeding, but don’t know how much longer we will be able to continue this. Enter feelings of guilt, anger, shame, etc.

    Reply
  • Lori March 18, 2013, 7:44 pm

    you did GREAT – be proud of you. I wasn’t able to breastfeed for long with my first child. Second child a lovely nurse introduced me to nipple shields – and i did really great with those.

    Reply
  • Helen March 18, 2013, 8:18 pm

    As an exclusive pumper for the past 2.5 months (my baby is now 6.5 months), I just want to thank you for sharing your breastfeeding experience on this blog. It was so nice to have a voice out there sharing the challenges of breastfeeding in a way I could really relate to. CONGRATULATIONS on being done!!!

    Reply
  • Dana B March 18, 2013, 8:26 pm

    Mommy guilt is something I was never prepared for…it’s intense! I too deal with a fast let down and oversupply. Never did I think that having too much milk would cause so many problems while BF’ing. I don’t think it’s really talked about much…all of my friends think im lucky to produce sommuch. BF’ing in public can be hard b/c my 6 week old thrashes and is constantly on-off the nipple. Dealing with constant engorement is no fun either! I’m hoping my supply regulates soon b/c it’s tough…probably th most demanding and draining thing I’ve ever done in my life.

    Kudos to you and congrats on getting your boobs back ;)

    Reply
  • Christie March 18, 2013, 11:06 pm

    I am so, so impressed that you were able to pump exclusively for that long! I breastfed my first child for just over a year and am 9 weeks in with baby #2. I’ve had to pump a lot more this time, mainly to dump, as our new addition has a lot of food sensitivities. I couldn’t help but think of you recently and how tough it must have been sometimes to deal with the pump- so proud of you!
    I also love that you give credit on both sides of the fence. I am sure it can be very tough for formula-using mother’s as well.
    Congrats again and enjoy your normal bras! hehe!

    Reply
    • Christie March 18, 2013, 11:06 pm

      P.S. There is nothing better than no longer leaking!!! =)

      Reply
  • Emma March 19, 2013, 4:08 am

    Not sure if someone else has already suggested this, but a much easier (imo) way to do formula is to have all your clean & ready bottles filled with water. Then just leave them sitting out on the kitchen counter (or wherever is handy to grab them), with formula tin alongside and only spoon the formula in when you need to make one up. My son drinks room temp milk (has since birth). Easy as!! No chilling and heating required. Once i have a bottle mixed up if dude doesn’t finish it immediately i’ll retire it after 3 hours if still unfinished. As it is never chilled or heated this is pretty safe. If it’s a scorching hot day obvs feel free the pop a half eaten one in the fridge. Hope that helps!!

    Reply
  • Shannon March 19, 2013, 7:29 am

    I just wanted to mention, that just b/c your first time b/f was hard physically does not mean it will be again w/ baby #2. You would be amazed how different it can be from baby to baby. With my first, I had lots of problems—limited supply, baby hard to latch, repeated infections–every complication imaginable! (I stuck w/ it, and it sorted itself out, and I b/f exclusively for 19 mos.) With baby #2, my milk came in effortlessly, I had a huge supply w/ no problems at all, no infections–it was a total breeze the whole time. I nursed to 16 mos. and only quit then b/c my baby self-weaned! Anyway, just a fyi. :)

    Reply
  • Jennifer March 19, 2013, 10:07 am

    I think a couple other commenters asked this question too, but what kind of formula do you give Henry? I ask because I have EBF’d my 7-month old since birth and have feelings of wanting to stop each and every day. I work full time and it’s so degrading trying to pump in a public restroom, plus the constant worry of having enough milk, time constraints, physical discomfort, etc. Problem is, the few times I’ve tried to give my little one formula, he rejects the bottle, spits up, cries, etc. I feel like I’m trapped and have to continue to breastfeed. Any thoughts?

    Reply
  • Liz@youbetterworkmama March 19, 2013, 10:08 am

    Thanks for sharing this. Breastfeeding is such a unique experience for every woman, and the best we can do for each other is offer support even if we have different experiences.

    Reply
  • Alisa March 19, 2013, 11:45 am

    Thaks for sharing this. I’ve been reading your blog for a while but have never commented before. I had the exact same experience with my first child – exclusively pumped, flat nipples, quit after about 9 mos, felt guilty, etc. My second child latched on immediately after he was born and I was able to breastfeed with no major problems. Just wanted to mention this because, if you decide to have another child, you may have an entirely different story to tell!

    Reply
  • Stephanie March 19, 2013, 1:08 pm

    Thank you for being brave and honest enough to share your experience!

    Reply
  • Kathy March 23, 2013, 10:18 pm

    Honest and thought-provoking post as usual! I thinking being “the founder of Operation Beautiful” doesn’t mean you don’t deal with some of the same hangups about body and body image as every other woman…it just means you’re actively doing something to make the situation better and keep an open dialogue, exactly as you’ve done here. And, let’s be real, losing control of your bowels and peeing in someone’s face while screaming in pain IS a physical indignity, wether it’s for a good cause or not. Nobody would have an issue with calling it that if it happened at the dentist!

    Reply
  • Kelly September 23, 2013, 5:41 pm

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS POST! I can not say THANK YOU ENOUGH =) I have been exclusively pumping for the past 13 months and am so ready to be done but the guilt has been killing me. I am making a list tonight of things I can do to be a good mom that do not include pumping.

    THANKS AGAIN!

    Reply
  • Jessie November 7, 2013, 11:09 am

    I’m curious, what kind of formula did you use with Henry?

    My son is 6 months old, and while I am still breastfeeding and pumping while at work, it has always been a struggle for me to keep up my supply and being back at work has made that worse. I stress every day over not knowing whether or not I will be able to pump enough at work to provide for daycare the next day. It is mentally challenging! I’m considering switching to a combination of formula and breastmilk but there are so many different formula’s out there, I was wondering what you used.

    Reply
    • Caitlin November 7, 2013, 11:49 am

      Nature’s one baby’s only!

      Reply
  • Karen M. December 4, 2013, 7:27 pm

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!! I have been pumping exclusively for my 6 month old twins. I hate it and the way it makes me feel (62 oz a day is hard on my hormones). I’m currently getting ready to stop… I’m down to 2 pumps per day but still producing 24 oz a day. This weekend I’m stopping all pumping except “relieve the pain” pumping. My OB gave me Vivelle patches to try to stop the production quicker… will be getting some Sudafed, too!

    It’s good to read of someone else who feels as guilty as I do.

    Reply
  • becca wilson December 23, 2013, 8:24 pm

    I found your blog at the perfect time. I’ve been exclusively pumping for nearly 6 months (my daughter had a tongue tie, so wasn’t able to transfer milk efficiently on her own). I never imagined how difficult feeding my daughter would be (for my own mother, breastfeeding was a breeze, so I hadn’t ever heard it could be difficult). Over the past weekend, I have tearfully come to terms with the fact that for my own sanity, I MUST stop pumping. Now. So, I just wanted you to know how much your posts on this subject have helped me. THANK YOU!

    Reply
  • Sheena January 6, 2014, 10:58 am

    Thank you for this post. As a pumping mom of 7-month twin girls, I empathize with every statement you wrote. I’m looking to wean before I head back to work, and this post just validates the roller coaster of emotions that I’m feeling. My girls don’t exclusively receive breast milk, but it’s by far the majority of their bottles. The decision to stop makes me both incredibly happy and crushingly sad. You aren’t alone, and I’m glad to know that I’m not, either!

    Reply
  • josephine January 27, 2014, 3:11 pm

    I really truly enjoyed reading this! I have been breastfeeding/pumping for almost a year and I’m happy to say 2 more weeks and I’ll have my body back (and by body I mean the upper half). I give credit to those who nurse for days let alone months. Amazing read! Thank you!

    Reply
  • Stacy April 2, 2014, 9:32 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. Your story is my story. After 8 months of exclusively pumping I’m ready to drive over my pump with my car. I was afraid to admit how much I wanted my body back. This post has freed me and help me realize it is ok to do what is best for me. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Kristi July 9, 2014, 5:05 pm

    Hi! I know this is an old post but wanted to let you know that it was one that I found VERY helpful and made me feel less guilt about stopping pumping. I have been exclusively pumping for 2 months. I breastfed for the first week but my son was jaundiced and we returned to the hospital that first week because my supply was so low and he was dehydrated and starving. I had tons of guilt about not knowing how much he was getting, he had a bad latch, I had road rash, etc. so I decided to exclusively pump. I just had so many bad feelings about putting him back on my breast. I went from pumping 1 ounce a day…yes, only 1 sad ounce, up to 6.5 ounces a day. Despite trying fenugreek, 2 different prescriptions, etc. my supply never made it over 6.5 ounces a day. I have 6 weeks left of maternity leave and want to really enjoy that time with my little guy. I feel like I miss out on lots of time with him because I am pumping. He has been on formula and breastmilk since day 5 but I have had huge guilt every time I want to quit pumping. I have been mulling it over for the last month. Thank you for your very honest blog and making me feel better that it’s ok…..I just popped my first sudafed…..so here I go. Life is too short to have all this mom guilt…..my baby is very happy, healthy, and sleeps through the night already so I don’t imagine taking away 6 ounces of breast milk will change that. Thank you for posting your journey…it made me feel good to know that there are other moms out there who feel the same way :)

    Reply
  • Cate July 31, 2014, 1:46 am

    This post saved my sanity. I have a 7-week old girl who had major latching problems. After numerous trips to see lactation consultants, I chose to EP. My supply went from 6 oz/day to 70! Supply was not an issue clearly but I was miserable. At 6-weeks, I cut from 8 to 7 pumps but still felt like I was missing too much time with her and my husband. Each 20 minute session wound up taking closer to 30 after all was said and do e. I’m about a week into weaning and feel a HUGE sense of relief. I have a 6-7 week stash and a healthy little girl who I can now cuddle without watching the clock to stay on a pumping schedule. The guilt is fading. I know I did the right thing for me, her, and my husband.

    Reply
  • Ashley August 9, 2014, 9:55 pm

    I just have to tell you how valuable this post was to me. I’ve been looking for the support to stop pumping for awhile now. The guilt to stop for “selfish” reasons is very strong but the part where you say to just stop feeling bad really resonated with me. Thank you for writing this.

    Reply