My little baby is now a big boy.  It makes me so happy – and a little nostalgic and sad, too.  The first year of his life was such a beautiful blur, and it’s only now that I have really begun to process all the changes and growth that my little family experienced.


I’ve been thinking about writing a few ‘Looking Back’ posts on select baby topics.  For the first one, I thought I’d tackle breastfeeding.  Because out of my 4,500+ posts, the most popular ones are the pieces that I wrote about exclusively pumping.  Turns out that there’s little out there about stopping, and when you Google for tips on stopping pumping, my blog comes up first.  So ever since I wrote the original posts on pumping, strangers have been stumbling onto the posts and sending me the most heartfelt e-mails about quitting breastfeeding.

exclusively pumping

It’s a loaded topic for new moms.  It certainly was for me. But looking back…I’ve gained a new perspective.


When I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to try to breastfed.  My research told me that it was the healthiest option; my doctor and my Bradley Method instructor reiterated this.  I definitely heard the phrase, “Breast is Best” a lot.  The slogan is catchy, simple, and direct, and I understand that many people still mistakenly believe that formula is nutritionally superior.  So in many ways, the phrase makes sense. 


But I also think the phrase, “Breast is Best” has this horrible, unintended side effect of making lots and lots of moms feel horribly guilty when they decide not to breastfeed or breastfeeding doesn’t work out. Because no matter what our reasons are, we all want to do what’s best for the baby, right?


So, I went into motherhood knowing that I would try.  I read the books and met with lactation consultants. But right away, in the hospital, I knew it would be different than I expected.  Henry had difficulty latching, and when the nurse leaned in to check why, I discovered that – well – my nipples aren’t the ideal breastfeeding nipples (things I never thought I’d write on the Internet).  Thus began our journey with a nipple shield, which makes it easier for the baby to latch. 


In the days that followed, I met with several lactation consultants who assured me that we’d be able to ditch the shield eventually.  But it was so hard to feed without.  I started to pump, both to give myself a break from the struggle of trying to breastfeed with the shield and so the Husband could give Henry a bottle during one of the 3 – 5 newborn nighttime wake-ups. I also pumped when I knew guests would be coming over; I felt shy about breastfeeding in front of family and friends.


Now, that was the most unexpected part of our journey!  My shyness.  I firmly ‘believe in’ public breastfeeding.  Do it wherever, whenever – feeding your baby will never bother me.  And just as I want other women to be comfortable, I’m comfortable with my body. But not when it came to breastfeeding.  Perhaps because it was so unfamiliar.  Perhaps because of the shield (which makes breastfeeding less graceful and more messy, in-your-face, and clumsy).  Perhaps because of post-pregnancy hormones.  I wish I had felt differently about it, but I just didn’t.


What ended up happening was, by two months, I was exclusively pumping.  Exclusive pumpers are a small group.  I am really glad that I had adequate supply and could make the choice to pump, but at the same time, exclusive pumping was horrendous.  It was physically, mentally, and emotionally draining.  The pump ruled my life.  I look back on  my pumping experience and positively shudder.


I ended up exclusively pumping for 6 months (in total, I breastfed for 8) for several reasons:


  • I wasn’t prepared for needing the shield.  I wish I had realized that I would need one before Henry was born.  If I could do it all over, I would’ve asked my midwife to examine my breasts beforehand. It sounds silly, but I never knew that I had flat nipples.  My nipples were just my nipples.


  • I became too reliant on the pump too soon.  Many readers warned me about the pump – I wish I had listened. Everyone says the first 6 – 8 weeks of breastfeeding are the hardest.  In hindsight, I should’ve breastfed as much as possible and never pumped during the day.  Those occasional nighttime bottles saved my sanity – I don’t regret that at all.


  • I wish I had dealt with my breastfeeding shyness in another way. Pumping wasn’t the answer.  We had a lot of friends and family over during Henry’s first few weeks, and I really appreciated the help and company.  But maybe next time, I’ll keep visits shorter. And I won’t hesitate to excuse myself to go nurse in another room if necessary.  I felt like that would’ve been rude to take Henry to my bedroom when someone had come over to see him.  But it wouldn’t have been rude at all!  My loved ones would’ve been understanding and supportive.


So, next time, I plan to do things a little differently.  I’ve learned a lot from my pumping ‘mistakes.’  I hope this knowledge will make breastfeeding BabyHTP 2.0 easier.  And maybe – just maybe – by sharing these intimate details, I can make it easier for another new mom.


But… most of all… I will take this away from my experience – whatever happens, it’s not worth feeling guilty about it.  I spent so many months of Henry’s first year feeling like a failure because breastfeeding didn’t work out. That damned phrase – Breast is Best! – tortured me.  And I know it tortures other moms, too.


I’ve heard the phrase “Breast is Normal” and I like that slogan a lot more. It implies that breastfeeding is healthy and nothing to be embarrassed about.  It doesn’t come with a dose of guilt. It doesn’t make mothers who make an alternate choice feel bad about themselves. It’s a hard balance to encourage, educate, and empower women who are interested in breastfeeding without offending others. But I feel that this supportive attitude can – and should – be adopted by us all.  Because the choice of how to feed a baby is extremely complicated.  And because one person’s choice or experience isn’t a commentary on someone else’s. 


There are so many ways to be an awesome mom.  Feeding by the breast, from a bottle, or with formula is just one choice out of many.  When breastfeeding works out, it’s awesome.  But if it doesn’t, and it’s making you miserable, maybe it’s not worth the heartache.  A sad, heartbroken, guilt-tripped mom isn’t the best mom. 


I really do look forward to attempting to breastfeed my next child.  Regardless of how it goes, I hope to feel more positive about the overall experience. Hindsight, as they say, is everything.


For more on the topic of breastfeeding:


Why I’m Stopping

Stopping Exclusively Pumping, Part I

Stopping Exclusively Pumping, Part II



  • Jess Tank October 5, 2013, 10:52 pm

    Great post. Our sons are really close in age (your Henry is two weeks older than my Henry) and I had a lot of trouble in those early days. Fortunately it all worked out in the end and we are still breastfeeding (he’s addicted), but I think reading a post like this would have eased my mind so much. The main thing I wanted to let you know is that I don’t think I had the ideal…hardware…for breastfeeding, but overtime it changed. With lots of use my nipples became less inverted and it honestly didn’t even take that long. So, there’s hope. Thanks for being so honest with your journey. I feel like you are so down to earth and that you would be so chill to meet in real life. Your mommy posts are my favorite!

    • Caitlin October 5, 2013, 10:53 pm

      Same thing happened to me with pumping! Fingers crossed.

      🙂 I love we have two Henrys. 🙂 thanks for your sweet support.

      • Megan October 7, 2013, 1:23 pm

        I agree- I bet your nipples will be much less flat now after pumping for 8 months!

  • carly October 5, 2013, 11:14 pm

    Your experiences with exclusive pumping were a lifesaver for my family when our son was born in June. My wife is a stay at home mom, but she exclusively pumps. One thing no one really discussed at lactation class or when he was born was that sometimes breastfeeding is just too painful. Our son actually tore part of my wife’s nipple off at one point, that’s how aggressive his latch was. We met with a lactation consultant, we tried a number of things, but in the end pumping was the best path to success-he got breast milk and my wife wasn’t in pain and feeling guilty as hell about being in pain. Your posts about it were a great starting point for me to truly understand what she’s been going through and where she’s struggling. So thank you!

    • Caitlin October 5, 2013, 11:15 pm

      Oh my. Carly! Your poor wife’s boobies!!!!

      • carly October 6, 2013, 10:21 am

        It was BAD. And no one warned us that could even happen! Poor kid was just hungry and looking for more milk. He was born big (9+lbs, 21.75in) and he had a lot of little body to feed! The only bottles he can drink without nipple problems are the Doc Browns-his wrath isn’t limited to breasts, he’s managed to suck so hard he’s collapsed nipples while they had milk in them.

        Good thing he’s so dang cute. 🙂

  • Lara October 5, 2013, 11:17 pm

    Baby Henry! Ahh!
    I don’t say this with judgement or anything other than it is, but I wish things had been different for you. I feel about breastfeeding the way you must feel about natural birth (which I failed at)…it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and I wish everyone could have a positive experience with it.
    I think it’s great that you have shared your journey like this, and will probably be so helpful to other moms. I think so many of us just think that because because breastfeeding is natural that it must be easy. Breastfeeding, even under the best circumstances, is so f*ing hard. I admire you so much for pumping when doing things the more traditional way didn’t work out.
    One thing I wanted to ask, do you think you would be less shy about nursing in public with baby #2? In many ways, I was really naive with breastfeeding in the initial months. I think that actually helped me. I wasn’t aware of the controversy with nursing in public, I wasn’t aware that I had an option of giving G a bottle in the middle of the night after his 10th feed, etc. I just wonder if, now that you have the experience, you might be more comfortable with overcoming some of the more straightforward hurdles another time around.

    • Caitlin October 5, 2013, 11:21 pm

      I don’t know. I think I may be just because the entire thing won’t be so new and crazy to me. I look up to you as a BFing role model. 🙂

      • Lara October 5, 2013, 11:35 pm

        Wow, thanks. Oh I also wanted to comment on the “breast is best,” slogan. I’ve written about this before but I agree. It doesn’t serve either camp very well. “Breast is normal,” is my preference!

    • Megan October 7, 2013, 1:26 pm

      Lara our stories are similar. I know without a doubt I would have nursed even if I’d had a more ideal births but I think I was so adamant to breastfeed exclusively because I didn’t get the births I wanted.

  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun October 5, 2013, 11:19 pm

    Love this post! Even though I do not have children I have thought about this a lot. I do want to breastfeed when I have children one day, but like you said the slogan “breast is best” makes mothers feel so bad when they can’t. I have a friend who due to hormonal issues just couldn’t produce enough milk – her husband was a doctor and all she remembers anyone telling her was how good it was and kept telling her she needed to keep trying. In the end she just ended up so down and felt like she failed – she hadn’t! I agree that breastfeeding is a great thing but not for everyone!

    I love that you are so open and I hope that it will help everyone make the decision that is best for themselves!

  • Kendra October 5, 2013, 11:36 pm

    I was dreading breastfeeding my second baby just as you are. The mere thought of it made me anxious and it was one of those times where knowing what to expect is NOT helpful (I also felt the same way about labor the second time around, but that’s a discussion for another time).

    For me the second time around came with it’s own set of struggles and set-backs but honestly, I was better equipped to handle them and although I’d have my fair share of nights alone with my baby as I wept through a feeding, I didn’t want to stop. I kept going and literally one day it was like a switch went off. It was easy, pain-free and… I enjoyed it!!!

    Thank you for sharing your journey and I can’t wait to see what your journey looks like with Baby HTP 2.0!! 🙂

  • Jenny October 5, 2013, 11:53 pm

    I appreciate your honesty and candidness. However, “breast is normal” can be just as difficult for some women. Breastfeeding did work out for us and I’d still never call it awesome. I think that, just like training for a marathon etc, there may be awesome parts, but making breast feeding work long term requires sacrifice, pain, a bit of good luck, and times when it just plain sucks. There are those magical times too, but if like anything that’s worth it, there are struggles to overcome. I’m glad I did it. I’ll do it again. But the grass isn’t necessarily greener without the pump.

  • Christine @ BookishlyB October 6, 2013, 12:23 am

    While I agree that “breast is normal” is a bit gentler than “breast is best,” I think that it still invokes maybe a tiny bit of guilt for those who choose formula for various reasons, as it does sound like choosing an alternative is not. They’re still providing for their baby, which is normal… When the time comes for me to be in this situation I won’t pump when I go back to work and would probably still consider myself “normal.”

  • Nicole October 6, 2013, 12:35 am

    I too am an exclusive pumper and referenced your post frequently in those early weeks when breastfeeding was failing and I started to pump more and more. My daughter is 4.5 months old now and I am still pumping. I have to say, in the beginning, I was pumping 8 times a day, through the night as well, but was able to get down to 3 times a day (first thing in the morning, mid-day and before bed) and my supply didn’t change. It’s totally manageable now and it’s not even inconvenient! I just thought I would share that exclusively pumping is always hard in the beginning, but can become much easier for some women if they stick with it. If any new moms find themselves in the exclusive pumping camp, stick with it!!

    • chelsey October 7, 2013, 8:28 pm

      Your’e my hero!!! I really hope I can someday get down to 3 pumps a day. My twin girls are 5.5 weeks old, and I am down to 6 pumps a day with my supply still increasing. I definitely feel rushed during the day if I’m ever out and about to get home and pump!

      • Nicole October 10, 2013, 5:56 pm

        I was in your shoes when my little girl was that age too. I felt like I was in a constant cycle of pump, wash parts, feed, pump, wash parts, feed. I thought it would never get better, and I remember reading blogs where women said they were down to pumping 2-3 times I day, and I could not imagine it at the time, but eventually I got there too. And so will you 🙂

  • Rachel E October 6, 2013, 1:32 am

    We are ten months into a challenging breastfeeding experience. Low supply, latch, flat nipples, sleepy baby, baby who refused to nurse in public (even though I had no issues at all with it!!! Hah. annoying). Finally at 8 months I quit trying to force hee to do something she has mostly hated (that ‘rule’ that babies don’t self wean before a year is crap) I quit nursing and became an exclusive pumper. The experience has been nothing short of a major disappointment for me, but I’m really hoping to give her breastmilk until she’s 1. That is at the end of next month! I’ve been back at work since she was 12 weeks old so it has hopefully been a way for her to know I’m still thinking of her and providing my milk even though we can’t be together. And maybe it helped keep her healthier in the germ filled daycare center

    The thing that helped me was actually working so hard to live a healthy lifestyle and know that the comittment to health is worth it (originally just mine when I was a young adult and then for both of us once I became a mom). Knowing I had been able to commit to health I’m the past even if it was a daily struggle gave me a lot of the strength I’ve needed to continue breastfeeding through our challenges. You’ve been a big inspiration to me on both of those fronts.

    P.S. I don’t believe in push presents but I think every mom should get a huge rock of some kind when they finish the first year of motherhood.

  • Amber October 6, 2013, 2:02 am

    Thanks for the posts on stuff that really helps others! I have found that talking about all things pregnancy/labor/birth/breastfeeding is so hidden. Even when I have brought things up with my Mom about how “nobody warned me about this…” she responds with “well people just didn’t talk about that kind of stuff”. Why not! Life would be so much easier if people were just truthful about life.
    I am so open with my friends about everything I have experienced, hoping to make them feel more comfortable talking about things they’re going through. It’s so much easier when you know it’s normal!
    And kudos to you for pumping for so long! I never bought an electric pump (mostly because I was too cheap), and I had a hated relationship with the hand pump the few times I used it.
    I definitely think you’re on the right track for a positive experience with baby #2 someday- just let all stresses/expectations blow away in the wind and accept that everything will work out! You’re doing awesome!

  • Jen October 6, 2013, 5:51 am

    It is so wonderful that you put yourself out there to write these posts about your BFing and EPing journeys. I had my first child (a daughter) 2.5 years ago and we had a horrendous time with BFing. Her latch wasn’t correct, so my milk didn’t come in right away until I started pumping to increase supply. Unfortunately, once she had bottles for a bit, she wouldn’t go back to BFing, so I, too, ended up EPing for 6 months. And, you know what, I felt like such a failure. I was a first time mom and everyone asks, “are you breastfeeding”? And, what do you say, “no, I’m pumping and feeding her the milk”? It’s just akward and I felt like I was constantly being judged even though, what people don’t know, is that EPing is 1000 times harder than EBFing. I know this now because I know have a 6 month old son and BFing is going wonderfully! He is a champ and because it is going so well, I feel SO much more comfortable with the whole process. I look back on my experience with my daughter and I do not regret anything, but I really REALLY wish that there were experiences like yours for me to read. Your posts will really help other moms out there and for that, I am grateful. So, thank you!! And, just know that your second will be so different from your first and I hope that BFing works for you because it really is wonderful! But, I would have definitely said otherwise after my first!! Good luck!!

  • Meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles October 6, 2013, 6:16 am

    Great post! Breastfeeding is so challenging and the truth is, you just never know how your body will react and handle it until the baby is born and ready to latch on. That first month of my son’s life was so extremely challenging that I still don’t know how I did it lol. I envy your dedication to the pump. I swear during that first month I didn’t even know how to put the pump on. And when I figured it out, I barely had milk left in me to put out for bottles because he took so much and nursed all day and night. Funny, his birthday is today, he is now 10 but I recall those breastfeeding months all too well. I am proud of myself for nursing as long as I did (16 months!) but I recall all of those moments where it hurt, where he bit me and learning to feed in public. I still can’t believe I did that lol. You really never know how not shy you are until you have a baby lol. I think it is great you can show people an alternative to strictly feeding from the breast yet still giving their babies breast milk.

  • Gina October 6, 2013, 7:54 am

    Shouldn’t the “normal” be that your kid is being fed, regardless of method? I pumped for 9 weeks before returning to work with my son and I see the women who are pumping at 8, 9, 10 months still walking around looking like zombies moms. No doctor can argue that having a mom who is stressed out about the next pump that they are unable to engage in any other type of conversation is “healthy”? Also, formula is fantastic, it’s not the enemy , it’s fuel. It shouldn’t be this deep. I’m more concerned that my child is happy, meeting his milestones and engaging in the world around him.

    • Caitlin October 6, 2013, 7:56 am

      Like I said in the post, it’s not a commentary on one person’s experience. And it’s not saying alternatives are abnormal!

      • Amber K October 6, 2013, 8:38 pm

        Well that’s good. I was a little confused because “breast is normal” totally makes it sound to me like other options aren’t.

        • Megan October 7, 2013, 1:32 pm

          I think the point was getting away from “Breast is Best” and changing it to “Breast is Normal” to normalize nursing, nursing in public, extended nursing, etc. I never personally experienced any “You are nursing? EW GROSS I don’t want to see you doing THAT” attitudes but they are out there. So by making nursing more “seen” and “normal” instead of something that is done behind closed doors, our culture will be more accepting of it.

  • Jaclyn October 6, 2013, 8:48 am

    Thank you for writing this post. I know exactly what you mean about being tortured by the “Breast is Best” slogan. My daughter was born at 31 weeks and spent her first two months of life in the NICU, and all through that time, I breastfed her by almost exclusively pumping. (We made a few attempts with the lactation consultant, but at that point she had learned that food comes from bottles and she refused to latch.) I hated pumping, but I did it because I knew that my little preemie needed breast milk, and while I don’t regret it, it made me miserable and resentful – not of the baby, but of the situation. Constantly having to leave her side in the NICU to go to “the pump room” was awful. And then, to make matters worse, the stress of going to the NICU every day for fifty days tanked my supply. By four months, I was pumping about 8 ml per DAY and everyone from the pediatrician to my mom told me to just STOP already. Stop torturing myself over my supply issues, stop feeling guilty or like a bad mom… just STOP. So I switched to formula (which we pretty much already were doing exclusively, since my supply was so low) and, you know what? It was fine. My daughter is 13 months old, healthy and beautiful and well fed. But hearing that “Breast is Best” slogan always made me feel like utter crap – like I was feeding my daughter something inferior. And it was worse because it wasn’t my choice – I’d have been breastfeeding if I could, but I couldn’t do it. So the “Breast is Best” lobby, essentially, made me feel like a bad mom because of a physical problem that I couldn’t control. It took me months to finally decide to stop feeling that way – to instead take the attitude of “I’m feeding my daughter the best way I can and she’s healthy.” And it was a lactation consultant and the pediatrician who talked me around to that point of view. Anyway, this is a ridiculously wordy comment, but I just wanted to say THANKS for putting into words exactly what I felt. Making moms feel guilty over their feeding choices (or lack of choices, in my case) is NOT good advocacy.

    • Caitlin October 6, 2013, 9:22 am

      Thank YOU for sharing this. I appreciate it so much. I am SO glad your daughter is doing well.

    • Lesley October 6, 2013, 10:29 pm

      I went through a very similar situation, where my son was born at 34 weeks and spent time in the NICU. I was so stressed out from him being early and his stay in the hospital that I think these stressorss affected my supply . I wanted to breastfeeedi desperately so I tried it with a nipple shield – latching issues – and be would fall asleep from all the hard work of sucking so I would wake him with a bottle of formula as a supplement per dr orders. I would next pump but only produced a very small amount and we did this for about 6 weeks….breast, bottle to supplement, pump. I took all the vitamins to help with supply but they didn’t do anything for me. My life revolved around breastfeeeding and pumping. I felt so guilty over it all and even worse I kept thinking what was wrong with me bc when I pumped I wouldn’t produce more than 1 oz from both breast at a time. I cried day in and day out and finally after meetings with lactation consultants and la Leche league women, sleepless days and nights I finally gave up.. Our son is only 10 weeks so it hasn’t been long but it still hurts to talk about it. I don’t like the ingredients in formula, even the organic ones and I feel ashamed when making a bottle and I know others are breastfeeeding. I will get over it and there will be a time where I will no longer feel this way . I have to remind myself I did everythjng I could. What was most important is that I was feeding him and he was gaining weight.

      • Kelli October 7, 2013, 1:16 pm

        Hang in there! With time the self-consciousness will wear off, because you will see that your son is growing & healthy & still feels very loved by you.
        I had a similar experience & it still makes me cry to think back about how painful the “failure” to breastfeed was. But now my son is 1 year old & one of the happiest babies around- everyone comments on his lovely disposition. By the end of his first year I never even gave it a second though when I pulled out the formula.
        I think being a first time mom is such a raw emotional experience & it is hard to not feel on display all the time, but just know that you are truly doing the best you can & that is more than enough for the little guy who you obviously already love deeply!
        Take care,

  • stephanie October 6, 2013, 8:54 am

    I Love your post ! Every mother wants the best for their baby and sometime it makes you feel bad if you think you cant give them the best you can think of to your baby. Whichever the slogan is you’re doing great . You are giving the best to your baby..

  • Lauren @ The Highlands Life October 6, 2013, 9:30 am

    I am still breastfeeding my one year old and am so thankful, and honestly, don’t know that the weaning process will look like for us since I’ve never done this before and he seems to be just fine with getting it fresh from the tap as opposed to a sippy cup. So we’ll see how this journey ends in the future but I just want to say, kudos to you for pumping as long as you did! I work 1-2 days a week as a RN (wonderful 12 hour shifts) and being hooked to that dang pump is hard! I feel like it hurts me more than a direct latch does, so you are awesome. I work in Labor and Delivery and I encourage breast over formula every single time so I say any breast milk your baby gets is fantastic. There are so many benefits to it that I don’t care if it’s one week or 3 years. We are all moms, no matter how we feed our babies. Good luck the next time around!

    • Megan October 7, 2013, 1:35 pm

      L&D RN as well and I nursed both my babies for about 2 years. You don’t have to wean just because your baby is one. 🙂 Breastmilk doesn’t lose it’s health benefits because he’s not a “baby” anymore. 🙂

  • Cori @ Read.Write.Run.Mom. October 6, 2013, 10:24 am

    I’m so sad that you regret having exclusively pumped – like it was a cop-out. It wasn’t. Having exclusively pumped FOR TWINS for 10 months, I understand the “inconvenience” but I also remember how debilitating it was for me that I couldn’t breastfeed. The first 6 weeks of trying with no luck and preemie babies who needed to be fed…I shudder at the thought of going through that again. More often than not, we all ended up in tears with every attempt and I missed out on so much trying to force it when we were just ending up feeding them pumped milk anyway.

    The day I released myself from that guilt and heartache was the day I had the epiphany that I could actually just pump…and I never looked back. When people asked me if I breastfed, as every random stranger out there is prone to do, I proudly told them I breastfed by bottle and I would like to think that I educated A LOT of people that there IS a third option. One that is never talked about.

    Since then, the lactation consultant I worked with at the health unit has told me every time we’ve gone in that she has coached yet another family that they can have an option that is still breastmilk. Sure – it is A LOT more work, but for me it was the only way and it worked very well for our family. And with my stress level way down from not letting the mommy guilt eat me alive – well, we were a much happier family too.

    I’ll never regret my decision to exclusively pump. I won’t be having any more children and I feel like the ones I have, had the best start I could give them. And now, at 4 years old, they are none the worse for it.

  • Rebecca October 6, 2013, 10:29 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience with such honesty.
    I had twins born at 26 weeks (just two weeks before you had Henry)
    And because my babies were “tube” fed for so long
    And because my daughter eventually ended up with a Trach and a G-Tube and didn’t feed by mouth….I ended up an exclusive pumper too…
    For 13 months and was able to give my twins my BM for 15 months
    There were many times in our journey that I struggled
    It was difficult for me to be the mom in the middle
    I didn’t nurse
    And I didn’t formula feed
    Feedings took twice as long – to bottle feed one baby….then bolus feed the other through her tube….then pump…..and then start again….
    Your posts helped to normalize the experience
    And helped me to continue
    Thank you for helping me to be okay with my choices

    • Megan October 7, 2013, 1:37 pm

      Way to go, Rebecca!

  • Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries October 6, 2013, 10:46 am

    I couldn’t sing more praises about this post. Thank you for addressing this! Not sure if you remember my email to you several months ago re: exclusively pumping vs. nursing. I had the hardest time with it all the first few months. I EP’d for about 3 months (so exhausting!) and found myself in tears almost every day over the fact that I couldn’t breastfeed. I, too, had flat nipples, and my baby was in the NICU his first couple weeks because he was very sick. This all led to breastfeeding problems and was far from easy. Because he spent some time in the NICU, I had a LOT of nurses and LC’s push breastfeeding on me and the “breast is best” thing. Of course I appreciated their support, but it was hard to not feel guilty if it didn’t work out. I’m happy to say that I randomly decided to try breastfeeding again at about 3 months postpartum, and my baby latched right on, and we’re still going strong at 6 months postpartum. The next time around, of course I’m going to try to breastfeed, but I’m definitely not going to beat myself up if it doesn’t go as smoothly as I’d like. Thanks again for this great post!

  • Stacy October 6, 2013, 1:26 pm

    Wow, Caitlin, great post. But I’m wondering if I missed something? Before you were always saying “If we have another child,” and now, that “if” is a “When.” What changed or happened for you to feel certain you wanted another baby?

  • Emily October 6, 2013, 1:40 pm

    People can be so awful about breastfeeding. Just piling the pressure on without even thinking. Or thinking they’re doing the right thing by putting pressure on.

    I’m not a mum, but I had to intervene when my housemate said something to our pregnant neighbour. They were talking about the nearly-here baby and she said “what’s absolutely clear is that breast feeding is vital. On every score breast fed children do better. You must.”

    I had to take a deep breath before I spoke. I was astounded that anyone would think it was OK to say that to a new mum, especially in the tone that she did. What’s ‘vital’ is that the kid gets fed! And that was just one incident. I dread to think how many people feel qualified to say stuff like that to mums.

    I think with breast feeding, the better way is to empower women to make their own choice for their family. To feel more confident about their bodies and to demand the space they need for whatever they have chosen to do. Not to bully them and make them feel stressy and like a failure if something doesn’t work out.

  • Caroline H October 6, 2013, 3:09 pm

    Great post! I think it’s great that you’re looking back at things and able to sort out what happened and how it impacted breastfeeding. I love the “breast is normal” slogan – hadn’t heard it until now. Thanks for posting about topics like this that can be taboo!

  • Lauren F October 6, 2013, 5:07 pm

    I wanted to share that not all babies and experiences are the same. I, too, had great difficulty nursing my first son and switched to pumping after a week. This lasted only two months until we went to formula. There were many factors that contributed to this. Nipple issues being one of them. But two and a half years later (3 weeks ago) I gave birth to our second son and nursing is easy! This baby latched right away and is a nursing champ. So be assured that you may not deal with the same issues with baby 2.

    • Caitlin October 6, 2013, 7:11 pm

      I hope so.

  • Anna @ On Anna's Plate October 6, 2013, 7:07 pm

    As someone who had to formula feed from about week one on (my milk never came in), the phrase “breast is best” really got under my skin. But, if I’m being honest, “Breast is normal” doesn’t really do it for me either– does that mean that because my body didn’t produce milk, I’m “abnormal” or weird? Not according to the hundreds (seriously) of people, both friends and internet strangers, who assured me that lacking in milk supply was totally common and experienced by MANY new moms. I don’t know why we have to assign some catchy slogan to any of it– just FEED your kid, amiright? I know SO many new mothers (it seems like maybe you, too?) who agonized for months, even YEARS about some aspect of breastfeeding that didn’t go right. It just makes me feel so sad for them– that time that you spend agonizing over not doing it “right” is time that could (and should) be spent bonding with the new human being you just pushed out of your ladybits. I felt guilty about using formula for about a day, until I realized– hey, this formula is basically saving my kid’s life! I mean, she wasn’t going to get anything from me, despite both our best efforts. I feel no shame, or guilt, over using formula to provide my (crazy active, crazy intelligent (if I do say so myself ;-)), allergy-free) child with the nutrition that she needed as an infant. I wish other mothers could feel the same way about the choices they make regarding breastfeeding/pumping/formula. In my opinion, frankly, life is too short to tear yourself up about something that ends up being a pretty small issue in the grand theme of things.

  • Jen October 6, 2013, 8:22 pm

    I love this series! I wish your posts were around when I was going through this (Maya is about 9 months older than Henry). I had an interested nipple on on breast, making it much harder to latch on that side, and once I went back to work and my daughter was getting bottles during the day, she refused to nurse. So, I became an exclusive pumper for a year! and la leche league were my best resources, but there was little availed as personal as your posts. Hopefully the next time around we have an easier time, now that I know what to expect!

  • Jackie October 6, 2013, 11:10 pm

    I pumped for a year after we had trouble feeding on the breast, but one of the reasons nursing didn’t work for us, I think, is because of my body shape. I’m curious if anyone else wonders this about themselves? I’m tall (5’9) and have a pretty ample chest (which was only made more ample by the milk) and my nips are sort of low. So with my long legs, whenever the baby was nursing (before he could hold up his head), he was kind of wedged between my legs and boob, and my arm wasn’t long enough to keep his head supported and still be able to fit under my boob. We could never really get comfortable.

    One time we were in a lactation consultant’s office and she had this AWESOME chair that made nursing SO EASY (I think the arm rests were unusually low), which made me wonder if maybe my body type, combined with the chairs in our house, were causing the problem. Has anyone else ever wondered this about themselves? We experimented with lying-down nursing when he was a little older, but when he was teeny tiny, it didn’t work.

    • Vks October 7, 2013, 12:41 pm

      Getting comfortable is so important and it seems like it won’t be a big deal, “I’ll just sit and hold the baby and it will all work!” Right?! I remember I always had the hardest time at night when I was trying to sit up in bed with no back support, no footrest, no arm rest, etc. I think that’s why they say “don’t make any final decisions while it’s dark out!” Did your LC every recommend a My Brest Friend Pillow? Ridiculous name, but it’s a great product. It’s sort of like a cushioned shelf that you use to the support the baby (and sometimes even your breast). I used it a lot at the beginning. If I could get him in the right spot and get him to stay there, I could focus on his latch and everything else. It was a huge help for me. I also got pretty big during the first couple months (G cup), and rolling up a burp cloth and putting it under my breast for support helped a lot. The other thing that helped? Going to a nursing support group and seeing others with MUCH larger breasts than I had! It helped me feel like I was normal and if they could manage it, there could be a way for me to manage it too!

  • Jacquelynn October 6, 2013, 11:18 pm

    I was able to breast feed my baby (now 11 weeks) for 5 weeks. It was going so wonderfully, but I got sick. I had a flare up of my ulcerative colitis, couldn’t get better and I had to go on some medications that weren’t conducive to breast feeding. This was really hard for me, but now that I am back in remission with my UC, I am able to be a much better mom and I am healthy. Hindsight, I see how I sacrificed so much (my health, my parenting, etc) just to try and keep breast feeding. The pressure that is put on us about “breast is best” really does get to you.

    Have you read “Bottled Up?” It is a really great read about breast feeding/bottle feeding. I am now formula feeding my son, and he is thriving. It’s like the airlines… you need to have your oxygen mask on first in order to be the best help to your child.

  • Danielle @ Green is the New Black October 7, 2013, 6:53 am

    Hi there! I’m a new reader and just wanted to say that I love this post! I have a son around the same age and was fortunate enough that breastfeeding came easy to us (I’ll give myself some credit, it was hard work at first, but we didn’t have any of the major struggle that some moms deal with, so I consider myself lucky!) I am also dietitian who works with premature babies. I have a lot of moms who are exclusively pumping like you did and I have to say I believe that is much more demanding than feeding at the breast, so I give you credit!

    I agree that the slogan “breast is best” can make it challenging for many moms out there. There’s no denying the benefits of breastfeeding vs formula feeding, the studies are all there. What I think the studies fail to account for is the impact of mom’s emotional state if breastfeeding isn’t going well. To me, if a mother is unhappy because she is struggling to make breast feeding or pumping work and feeling like a failure, that may have impact on her ability to enjoy that precious time with her baby and no one can say whether the benefits of breast milk out weigh the risk there, ya know? I think all moms do the best that they can and if they cannot breast feed for whatever reason, formula is a fine alternative. Thanks for bringing this topic to a good light!

  • Marisa October 7, 2013, 7:44 am

    Hi Caitlin, great post as always, thank you. Got a quick question a little off topic. I see Henry is using a NUK sippy cup? How old was he when you introduced him to it? My little one seem to battle with his, but I’m not sure if it is because he battles with the teat or if it is because he doesn’t like water 🙂 I’m reluctant to give him juice (even if it is diluted) and also not to keen to give him tea… not even rooibos (not good for iron levels I’m told). My son is 9 months old now and we’ve been trying for probably the past 3 months. He is doing great otherwise. He sits, stands (mostly unsupported) and crawls very well and babbles up a storm. No delays from what I can tell. My only concern is that temps are rising (we’re at the start of summer) and I feel he needs to drink something other than his formula. (Yes I switched to formula 7 weeks in…) Anyway curious to know. Thanks Caitlin.

    • Caitlin October 7, 2013, 9:19 am

      He likes this cup more than anything-

      I agree that cup in the pic is a battle. I cut open the nipple so he doesn’t have to suck as hard.

      If it makes you feel better, I think all your kiddo should be having at this point is formula or water! That’s what most doctors in America would say, anyway.

      • Marisa October 7, 2013, 9:50 am

        Awesome! Will see if I can find these for him or at least something similar. A bit disappointed in the cup we’re using because I use just about everything else they make and love it… except for obviously the sippy cup 🙁 Thanks for your reply. Henry is just the cutest little man!!

    • Megan October 7, 2013, 1:41 pm

      I am not sure with formula fed babies but I really think that babies don’t need water at 9 months old. Milk has water in it so they won’t get dehydrated.

      • Caitlin October 7, 2013, 2:40 pm

        I’ve read that it’s okay to give water to older babies in really hot weather to help with hydration, if necessary, but obviously, it shouldn’t replace feedings and you should check with your doctor.

  • Heather October 7, 2013, 9:00 am

    I love your post and honesty! Although I totally agree with promoting breastfeeding, I think sometimes we try so hard to paint this “it’s natural, totally normal, what your meant to do” picture that we set people up for failure. For example, most of the women that I know in real life that stopped breastfeeding in the first week or two did so because they were told it shouldn’t/wouldn’t be painful and when it was, they assumed something was wrong with them or the latch and gave up. I think that is one of the biggest myths out there. Even with a correct latch, those first days can totally be painful! I was lucky in that my BFF who had breastfeed 3 kids and my sister who had breastfed 2 kids warned me that it would hurt at first, the my nipples would get sore, and they might sting, but that it would get better. I remember being in the hospital with my first baby and the lactation consultant told me it wouldn’t and shouldn’t hurt and when she left the nurse said “that is BS, I’ve had 3 kids and it hurt every time for the first 7 days!”. With my first breastfeeding was painful for the first 7-8 days. With my second it was horrific for the first 10-12 days. She was super aggressive, plus, like you I had an abundant supply and really fast let down so she was clamping down to control the flow (you actually saved us with your post about it). My nipples cracked, they bled (both times), and there were times when it took all I had not to throw my baby across the room when she latched! I would sit there and silently cry because latching was so painful. If I had bought in to the “it won’t hurt” motto, I would have stopped breastfeeding both times after a couple of days because I would have thought something was wrong with me or my babies. But because of the women that had shared with me, I was willing to keep going. I was able to work through the pain and it did get better. It became totally awesome and pain free! It wasn’t a latch issue, it was that my nipples had to adjust each time. I realize this isn’t the case for everyone, but I can’t say I have personally met a single BF momma that hasn’t admitted it hurt at first. Anyway, I wish more people felt they could share their stories. Sometimes, I think people are afraid to share a not so rosy breastfeeding story for fear of being jumped all over. Breastfeeding can be wonderful, but it can also be very difficult!

  • Courtney October 7, 2013, 10:41 am

    In terms of shyness, my best friend just had her second a month ago and now is a lot more comfortable just breastfeeding with company over. She has a little bib/cover thing, but it’s way different from with her first where she would leave the room for an hour at a time! I think it’s a combination of now knowing what she’s doing and what’s going to happen, and also realizing that at the end of the day it’s just breastfeeding and she needs to do what she needs to do to feed her kid and also not be so isolated.

  • Cassie October 7, 2013, 10:47 am

    This is a FABULOUS post, breastfeeding came super easy for me so I have always been at a loss at talking with my friends who have had a hard time, I’m so glad I can share your blog with them. I catch my self thinking if only she had more patience but stop myself and remember that there are other battles I’ve faced that they haven’t and being a good mom isn’t about who breastfeeds, uses cloth diapers, makes their own 100% organic baby food and throws pinterest worthy parties for their kids, it’s about making sure your baby knows he’s loved and doing the best you can, with what you have, where you are.

  • Angie October 7, 2013, 11:54 am

    I have breastfed 4 kids for an extended period of time, and all of the experiences were different and challenging in their own ways. Breastfeeding is definitely not easy!

    In terms of the shyness about NIP, I was very shy with my first and would leave the “baby room” at my church to go to a different, more private room and then still suffocated the poor child by feeding him under a blanket. As I had more children and spent more time with breastfeeding moms, I lost my shyness and with my youngest really have had no shame (because there should be nothing shameful about feeding our children, right?). I also think just the fact of having an older one around when you are nursing the younger one asking all of the funny little kid questions (how does the milk come out of there? is it like the milk in my cup? can I try it?) helps with the shyness. So I think that you will find a difference with #2.

  • MomHTP October 7, 2013, 12:20 pm

    Glad to read such an honest post on breast feed. It will be received by many as a relief from their “guilt”.

  • Anne October 7, 2013, 12:32 pm

    No one tells you how much of a challenge breastfeeding is–for goodness’s sake, they had wet nurses back in the day to feed those babies that had latch issues before formula was invented! I think part of the problem with breastfeeding is the dangerous hormonal cocktail swirling through your system–it makes the hurdles and constant struggle to get the latch consistent and painless seem insurmountable, and even worse, like it’s your fault and, by default, you fail as a mom. I think just as helpful as access to lactation consultants should be readily available information that breastfeeding isn’t as easy as putting a baby on your boob after they’re born. Babies are born with the instinct to suck, but with no clue how to latch. I turned the corner in my own breastfeeding struggle (one breast with flat nipple, which also had undiagnosed mastitis, nipple shield until 7 weeks old) when my mother, a lactation consultant who specialized in preemies, told me I had to teach him how to latch, and that most babies can latch well by 8 weeks (prematurity and other health issues excluded) provided you just keep at it. I told myself that I would keep it up and if things didn’t work out by 8 weeks I’d quit. I pumped only those nights I needed help from my husband and buckled down every 90 minutes and worked on teaching the latch. By 5 weeks I didn’t hate it anymore, and by 8 weeks I forgot the promise I made to myself. My son turns 7 months on Wednesday, and we’ve been exclusive since then–he’s off the charts in height and 80% in weight, a stark change from the skinny baby I cried over because he was losing too much weight.

    Before I had the baby, an aunt told me women who couldn’t breastfeed didn’t “try hard enough.” After I had the baby, I realized she’s an idiot. I can completely understand why some moms have to pump or turn to formula. Had my mom, a lactation consultant, not stayed with me that first week and been present for most of his feedings, been so supportive and told me I was a good mom even when he struggled to regain his birthweight, there’s no way I could have succeeded, and hearing that breast was the best, and I wasn’t giving my baby the “best,” I would have felt like a failure, even though it’s not like that at all. This shit is hard and every situation is different. Even my mom looked at me, crying over my painful, infected breast and trying to get the baby to latch, and said, “You don’t have to do this, you know.”

    To make it so more moms succeed, there needs to be more in place than just available lactation consultants (whose abilities widely vary—in addition to my mom, I met with two others, one who SUCKED and one who was just passable). First, doctors have to be prepared for the post birth weight loss and plateau as breastfeeding is established–which is different for those moms who breastfeed. Babies who are breastfed do take longer to regain. I was made to worry so much about his weight in the first two weeks when I didn’t have to. I had to come in for weight checks every other day. He was outside of “recommended” ranges, but not drowsy or wasting away, and was made to feel like getting him to eat a huge meal right away was do or die. To meet this birthweight goal, a friend was told to supplement with formula, which ruined her supply even before they left the hospital. Third, women should be counseled bring their breast pump into the hospital and pump even before they go home–even before they baby can latch properly, pump after every feed. Hell, top him off if you’re worried about his birthweight. I spent so much time cluster feeding to get my supply up that my nipples got soooo sore. If I had pumped those first 5 days after each feed I may have laid down more receptors and not struggled so much to get my supply up. Lastly, get Dr. Newman’s All Purpose Nipple Ointment. That stuff made my cracked, bloody nipples heal up so fast that it almost seemed like dark magic.

    Sorry for the long comment, but I was so gobsmacked by this experience that I have been trying to spread the word to my friends about how to make it work for them. The payoff is so awesome, but it’s so hard to establish and the support offered to us is so little it and so poor that I’m shocked any mom can breastfeed exclusively.

  • Caroline October 7, 2013, 12:47 pm

    Hi Caitlin,

    I discovered your blog when I was pregnant. Now I have a 6-week-old son and I’m exclusively pumping – your posts have been so helpful to me! Question – what is the flower looking thing in your picture? Is it some kind of drying rack for the pump pieces? I’m intrigued!

    • Caitlin October 7, 2013, 12:56 pm

      It’s a drying rack but just for bottles, not for pump parts. I can’t remember the name now!

      HI 🙂 Congrats on your baby!

      • Caroline October 7, 2013, 1:34 pm

        Ok, thank you!!

  • Andrea B. October 7, 2013, 12:51 pm

    What a great post! I agree that everyone’s experience is different, and we should all be able to choose what is best for us and our own circumstances. Breast is normal, I like it.

  • Megan @ The Running Doc October 7, 2013, 1:29 pm

    I don’t have any children yet, but shouldn’t the message that gets spread be one that if your child is healthy then that’s all that matters? I am honestly not the slightest bit worried about being or not being able to breast feed. Do I want to? Of course. I’m a scientist and am well aware of the benefits but I’m sure as hell not going to let anyone make me feel guilty so long as my child is happy and healthy.

    The only reason mothers feel guilt is because someone else told them, or they read online, that what they’re doing is wrong, or not “normal”. So isn’t it best to put forth a message that doesn’t put anyone down, but encourages all mothers? How about a message of simply doing what’s best for you and your baby because for some, for one reason or another, the breast turns out not to be normal.

    I know you’re simply speaking about your experience but in doing so you might be spreading the exact guilt that your trying to prevent.

    • Caitlin October 7, 2013, 1:31 pm

      It is difficult to take about individual experiences and mother guilt without somehow implying that others should feel guilty, too. Which is why I tried really hard to make it clear that’s this is about my experience and not a commentary on everyone else. It’s hard!!

  • Charitydawn October 7, 2013, 6:45 pm

    Its so interesting to read this. I entirely breast fed Alexander, not by choice by circumstance. I started breast feeding and waited the 4-6 weeks to introduce the bottle like everyone said.. Then he would not take the bottle not matter how hard we tried and we tried hard, 100’s of dollars worth of bottles, hours of crying (baby and momma), not able to share duties etc. I said next time (if it happens) I will exclusively pump, it would make it easier on me. I had one friend (we have 5 babies in our group) who exclusively pumped it looked sooo easy. I never understood the pressure of exclusively pumping. All I seen was the stress and pain of never being able to be seperated from the baby for more then 2-3 hours. I exclusively breastfed for 9.5 months when I went back to work at 9.5 months I still breast fed when I was home and my husband formula fed until 11 months when we switched him to whole milk. He never took a bottle, he did go to sippy cup a week before I went back to work.. Only one kind of sippy cup (again lots of $$ on finding the one he’d take). I found it an extreamly stressful experience. I never believed “breast was best” I believe food is best. Feed your kid what ever you can, and your doing a great job as a mom!!

  • Maria October 7, 2013, 10:07 pm

    I agree, I dislike the phrase “breast is best”, not so much because of what it actually says but because of how people seem to read and interpret it. Breast milk IS best for babies- we all know that. What confuses me is how, for so many moms, this becomes twisted around to mean that formula is evil, unhealthy, and basically “the enemy”. It becomes some strange all or nothing deal where moms feel tremendous guilt over ever letting formula touch their baby’s lips! I had a wonderful breastfeeding experience with my daughter, but it was anything but “all or nothing”. My now ten month old was in the NICU for a week when they discovered she was seizing as the result of a stroke in utero. While I breastfed and pumped tirelessly because I had always wanted to (and because, in those tough moments, it felt like THE ONLY thing I could do for her), with all the tests that were being done on her and all the meds being given to her the nurses didn’t hesitate to mix her doses with a few mls of formula if breastmilk wasn’t handy. Knowing that she had already had formula, tolerated it, and that it hadn’t turned her off nursing was in many ways a relief for me! While I never initially gave her formula for a full feeding, there were a few times when I hadn’t gotten around to pumping and would give her her meds in an ounce of premixed newborn formula. When she was 15 weeks old I returned to work knowing that I did not want to pump (too many bad NICU memories! Plus I teach in a middle school, and anyone can tell you there is no worse place to pump!) but that I would continue breastfeeding. All in all, we breastfed exclusively for two months, then near-exclusively for 6 weeks, and then 3 times a day for another 2.5 months (5.5 months total breastfeeding). I was a little sad when she started rejecting the breast, as I would have been willing to go for longer- but, ironically, I never felt one bit guilty about giving her one, two, or even at the end three bottles of formula a day! Why can’t we just all accept that any little bit of breast milk a baby gets benefits them- and that when breast milk isn’t readily available that formula is a wonderful substitute?

  • Morgan October 7, 2013, 11:30 pm

    I love the idea of breast is normal as the slogan. I have recently been so sad because my very best friend of over 20 years had a really hard time with breastfeeding. I could tell she felt guilty telling me she was quitting because I breastfed my daughter for 16 months. I never never never want any mother to feel badly for doing what is best for her family and her baby. I did not realize how terrible the breast is best mantra sounded until we had a long heart to heart about how she was feeling about giving it up.

    Also, I had a terrible time nursing number 1 even though we eventually made it to 16 months. I literally wanted to quit every day for at least 3 months. I want to give anyone who had a hard time the first go around hope! My second baby is now 6 weeks old and she has been a breastfeeding champ from day 1. She only lost 4oz in the hospital and she just knew what to do. I also struggled with flat nipples, but this one had no issues with it. Every baby really is different!

  • Sarah October 8, 2013, 9:14 am

    What a great post! I struggled with breastfeeding in the beginning too. I definitely think they should add some sort of pre-breastfeeding consultation (read: nipple check) into prenatal care if you are going to breastfeed. The only reason I knew about flat nipples or nipple shields was from reading your blog! Breastfeeding is also not covered enough in hospital classes, I can say that. I was not prepared at all for how challenging it would be. I too had flat nipples and had to start using a shield in the hospital. It was a major pain in the butt. I could write a ton about my experience but basically we dealt with latch issues, supply issues, latch issues again after ditching the shield (at 8 weeks), plugged ducts, etc. but somehow, through some sort of combination of miracle, hard work and some awesome lactation consultants, we’ve pulled it off and we’re doing great at almost 5 months. I definitely agree though that if it doesn’t work out or if it’s killing your joy of being a new mom, then you should do what’s best for you, which ultimately will be better for baby. I’m still not breastfeeding in public because I’m dealing with that shyness too and my little guy likes to pull everything off that I try to cover him with, but I am doing it at church in a classroom, at his doctor’s visits and in front of more family and friends — baby steps 🙂

  • Sara October 8, 2013, 11:17 am

    Before I got pregnant, I read your post about BF and EP. I felt kind of the same way you did before having my baby (that I wanted to try breastfeeding, but I wasn’t sure how it would work out). I took a class and prepared as much as I could! Anyway, long story short, your story is eerily similar to what happened to me. Breast shield, couldn’t feed without it, pumping when we went out or when company came over because of my shyness (and how messy it was to use the shield), pumping for my sanity and eventually switching to EP. There’s an EP group on Facebook that really helped me a lot. I’m nearing 5 months of breast feeding/EP. (3 1/2 months EP). I hope to make it a year, but my short-term goal is six months. Anyway, I’m glad I had your blog post to reference when I chose to EP, but you’re right, there isn’t a lot of info out there and it is confusing and conflicting. Moms who are able to BF can sometimes make EP feel badly too (without meaning t0). I really wish I hadn’t given up so soon too. I wish I had never used the shield too when the LC gave it to me. I should’ve just kept trying without it. Anyway, I hope things will be better with baby no. 2. I honestly don’t know how I would EP and take care of my older child and a new baby. I know there are moms who do it (and do it for a year or more) but I don’t know how I would do that. What we feed our children is such a deeply personal thing. I feel like my husband and relatives don’t really understand why I get so upset over it when people make comments about how much my son eats, when he eats, etc. It’s just really personal to me I guess because I work so hard to ensure he has BM! Anyway, thanks for this post 🙂 It is exactly how I feel!

  • Sharon October 8, 2013, 11:28 am

    I agree, a new term would be more empowering to mommies. Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Jocelyn October 8, 2013, 1:56 pm

    Alright, I’m a new mom to be and I’m feeling a little clueless. I always assumed that whether you pumped or breast fed, it was the same. The baby is getting the same “product,” so what is the difference? Why is one supposed to be better than the other? I’ve heard that the pump is a pain in the butt to clean and obviously you can’t do it in public, but what are the other issues with it?

    • Caitlin October 8, 2013, 1:59 pm

      I think that if there are any nutritional differences, it is very minimal (I’ve read stuff about the baby’s saliva interacting with the nipple so you produce certain antibodies). But it’s mostly a time / ease / bonding thing that bothering me.


      • Grace October 8, 2013, 4:02 pm

        Research has actually now shown that the benefits from breastfeeding (higher IQ, etc) are actually less related to the milk itself, but rather the act of breastfeeding itself:

        There has also been a large amount of research that shows that the actual physical act of breastfeeding creates stronger bonds between mother and baby (vs. mother feeding a baby a bottle, even with expressed breastmilk) – they’ve done fMRIs that show that breastfeeding mothers respond more strongly and quickly to the sound of their baby’s cry than bottle-feeding mothers (

        Studies have also shown that babies have lower oxygen saturation levels when drinking from bottles vs drinking from the breast (increasing the risk of bradycardia and apnea), and ear infections occur more often with bottles, and that since the suckling mechanism between bottle and breast is different, it can have a negative affect the development of the jaw/mouth and can affect speech development.

        The whole baby’s saliva interacting with the nipple for antibodies is a myth – the mother is usually in the same environment as the baby, so she will produce the antibodies from being exposed to the same germs and viruses and pass those to the baby.

  • Christine October 8, 2013, 3:03 pm

    I talked about my breastfeeding issues and baby blues on my blog when my baby girl turned 1 in June (
    After 3 weeks I had to stop breastfeeding and pumping. I was not producing anything. When I pumped, it took me over na hour to get an ounce. Breastfeeding was so frustrating for me. I am not upset I couldn’t do it longer, but looking back, I wish I would’ve maybe met with more specialists to help me even if in the end, that didn’t work. Maybe for the next baby 🙂

  • Carol October 8, 2013, 9:27 pm

    You are so amazing, your baby/breastfeeding/bodyafterbaby posts always make me cry and hit so close to home, I definitely had (and still feel it at times) a major dose of “guilt”, thanks for putting everything in perspective time and time again, you are right there are several ways to be an awesome mom and at the end of the day we all want the best for baby! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

  • Jenn October 10, 2013, 9:59 pm

    I completely understand your post and reflections. I exclusively pumped for 14 months. Since my daughter was in the NICU for the first 7 weeks of her life, she never learned how to properly latch. I was determined to provide breast milk to help her gain weight and get all those great immunities that I had built up from years and years of working in the public school system. Exclusively pumping is an option that not a lot of people know about – I had doctors ask me questions about how I was doing it!! Like you, I wonder a lot about what I will do/try to do differently the next time around…

  • Allison October 15, 2013, 8:22 pm

    Oh, the shield. I was there with my little girl! It was a life-saver when we first started using it–I had horrible blood blisters on my nipples before discovering it. I didn’t even know flat nipples were a thing until I started breastfeeding. It was hard to explain to those that have never used one how awkward and messy they are. We plowed through, and I was determined to get rid of it before I had to travel cross-country. Thankfully my girl figured out how to be a pro suckler, and we were able to eventually get rid of the shield. But now, I’m stuck with a baby who won’t take a bottle! It seems like there’s no “right” way to breastfeed. As long as you have your baby’s well-being in mind, you’re being a great mom!

  • Jill October 20, 2013, 3:52 pm

    I know all about the nipple shield. I used one for 7 months out of the 18 months we nursed. It is really the only reason I was able to Breastfeed at all. I have small nipples that were “shy” as one IBCLC called them. I just stashed mine in my bra at all times. That way, I never had to hunt for it or worry did I forget it. I tried several kinds (4 different ones). It is messy and difficult. So good for you to use one with flat nipples and even more kiddos for EPing. I had just enough supply for nursing (and sometimes barely) that EP wasn’t even an option really for us. Good luck with 2.0!!

  • maggie October 20, 2013, 11:17 pm

    I nursed in front of everyone during those early days of breastfeeding, probably bc I was delirious from my unexpected emergency c-section and just the need to feed my baby. It didn’t occur to me that some people would be uncomfortable with me breastfeeding my infant son. Anyone who came to visit me the first 2 months had probably seen my breast. It wasn’t until the fog lifted and I saw a LC who saved me from my son’s painful latch that I truly felt comfortable breastfeeding. After a few comments from extended family and noticing that they didn’t know where to look when my breast was out made me retreat with my son into his room to feed him. I have no issue with nursing in public bc after many months, I am discreet and for the most part people don’t even notice. (Youtube videos really helped bc my son would wave the nursing cover like a flag, he hated it!) It does however make me feel uncomfortable when visiting with certain family and I have to go and find a space to nurse bc it makes them uncomfortable to know that he’s nursing. My son will see me nurse his sibling in the future. While everyone may not agree that “breast is best” I fully agree with the statement “breast is normal.” great article!

  • lauren October 23, 2013, 11:06 am

    It was really good to hear someone else say that the phrase “breast is best” got to them. When I picked up my first container of formula to supplement my hungry, lethargic baby I cried right there in the store when I saw that on the package. No, in my case breast was not best. My baby had high levels of bilirubin and needed that formula.
    My son was born by csection after 6.5 hours of pushing. He got stuck under my pelvic arch and I was given pit and and epidural after the first three hours in hopes he’d progress through. Then they made three vacuum attempts before deciding I needed a csection quickly – he wasn’t tolerating the contractions by that point. My poor little guy was swollen and bruised when he came out. And that’s how we started our breastfeeding journey. He latched well, so the nurses and I thought he was doing great…fast forward a week and he was down 13% of his birth weight. He had horrible jaundice, my milk never came in all the way, but by a month I could give him about an oz per feeding.
    I ended up supplementing and pumping and breastfeeding. It was such a roller coaster. I was crying all the time since it wasn’t going at all how I had thought it would. By 10 weeks, he would only latch a minute or two at a time, so I was pumping after every single feeding after giving him a bottle too. Then I exclusively pumped for a month, and when you only get ~6 oz a day when you’re pumping 8x it really starts to mess with you.
    I’m glad we made it just past the 3 month mark, but I just could not go any further. Physically and emotionally, I’d had it. Breastfeeding, pumping and stopping – they were all the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I wouldn’t change any of it, but I sure have learned a lot.

  • Gia July 27, 2014, 8:16 am

    Hi! What did your typical pumping schedule look like day and night? Also, what bottles did Henry use? Thanks!

    • Caitlin July 27, 2014, 12:02 pm

      He used the Medala bottles. I pumped five times a day – once upon waking, once in the morning, once at lunch, one in afternoon, and again before bed.

      • Gia July 27, 2014, 9:40 pm

        So you didnt wake up in the middle of the night? My little one is a month old and we are back and forth with breast and giving expressed milk via bottle during the night but I am finding I still need to pump… Did you ever feel engorged/ or did your supply ever plummet and what did you do to help it? I am trying to just exclusively pump because we have been struggling with my overactive let down and flat nipples/ poor latch as you discussed to. I also want to occasionally nurse. I appreciate your honesty because it is hard to be a new mom and work so hard to give your baby the best even when you feel overwhelmed with this all and what people may say regarding BF vs EP. It was a rough start but he has only had my milk and that makes me happy. I just want to continue to give him that and feel that there will be less stress for me by pumping more.

        • Caitlin July 28, 2014, 10:27 am

          I may have pumped in the middle of the night at that point – I stopped when Henry would’ve stopped naturally eating in the middle of the night. So yes, I pumped in the middle of the night too at that point (sorry – should’ve said that). Don’t want to accidentally mess with supply!!! GL!

  • Sarah September 21, 2014, 8:37 pm

    Hi Caitlin,

    Your posts about your exclusive pumping resonated so much with me. I’ve been EPing for 8 months. My beautiful, perfect daughter has just been a simply lousy nurser, and wasn’t able to get enough milk from me to gain weight appropriately. Paired with mediocre supply (8 pumps per day x 2.5 ounces per pump) has made for a long 10 months with lots of self-doubt, self-blame, and feelings of failure. But I read your post in May and it kept me going, allowed me to look at the positive, and be PROUD of persevering in a way that worked for me! (4800 ounces, WOW!).

    Know that you helped my daughter get 4 extra months of breast milk, and me to have a healthier relationship with my pump! I am quitting EPing now at 10 months, and feel good about it. The end of a VERY bittersweet time!

    Thank you, thank you!

  • Roz R December 6, 2014, 7:45 pm

    Thank you for this post. As a new first time mom of a 3 week old, breast feeding is coming very oddly along. One nipple is just fine, but the other, even with a nipple shield (who knew such things existed?), ends up cracked and bleeding. Pumping it’s the only way I can keep my attempt at breast feeding, but it’s a ridiculously looooong time consuming process. I wanted to ask, what did you mean by your becoming reliant on the pump too soon?

    • Caitlin December 6, 2014, 8:08 pm

      I started pumping with Henry within the first week and I used it as a crutch because I found it easier than BFing. Instead of pushing through the hard parts of BFing, I used the pump too much and eventually just gave up. I’m pumping now but only to relieve engorgement.

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point