This mom's story about why she was both excited and terrified to quit pumping after a year and a half. Can you relate to these sentiments and some of these humiliating pumping situations?
I've pumped since Elliot was born - that's over a year and a half of pumping.
Before Elliot was born, I was adamant on feeding Elliot with breast milk if my body was able to produce it, whether it was through nursing, pumping and bottle feeding, or a combination of the two. Luckily I had ample breast milk supply almost immediately, and Elliot latched on right away.
I tried to nurse exclusively, but after a few days of hellish toe-curling nipple torture, I knew I needed to give myself a break if I was going to stick it out with breastfeeding. So I started pumping in addition to breastfeeding, and it was the best choice I could have made for myself.
Elliot took the bottle like a champ and never had any issues switching between bottles and boobies, even in the same feeding. Thank goodness for that. Being able to pump allowed me to get a break from 24/7 infant feeding, and it allowed my nipples to heal a little in between nursing.
But even though pumping was a huge life saver, it came with its own hassle: being attached to the breast pump.
There were times I pumped 5-6 times a day when I tried to get my supply up. I've pumped at midnight when I was so tired I was falling asleep. I've pumped at 6am before having to go in to work.
I've pumped three times a day while on vacation. I've pumped on trips to NJ to visit family. I've pumped in the car while Aldo was driving. I've pumped in the car while my mom was driving.
I've pumped standing in an airplane bathrooms (once by hand, since the plane didn't have any working outlets, while being yelled at by the flight attendants about taking too long, thanks JetBlue!). I've pumped in a swanky restaurant bathroom. I've pumped in a Mamava lactation "pod" in the Fort Lauderdale airport. I've pumped in airport "family bathrooms" while feeling guilty taking up the bathroom when I knew people were out there waiting to use it.
I've pumped while on the phone with health insurance companies ("No, I am not busy, why do you ask? Oh, that noise? Ignore it please"). I've pumped while I was feverish and my boobs were so sore from mastitis. I've pumped while Elliot was crying for attention and crawling up my legs for snuggles.
I've pumped by hand outside in a park without having any cover up while people walked by and stared (I forgot a cover-up, Elliot needed milk and wouldn't take the boob that day). I've pumped in a hospital bathroom while waiting for Elliot to get his GI scope done. I've pumped in friends' spare bedrooms. I've pumped in friends' basements.
That all sounds terrible, right? So why am I so sad to give up pumping?
I guess it's a deep visceral fear of not being able to provide food for my son anymore. What if there is a hurricane and we don't have access to food for weeks? What if there is a power outage and we can't cook food that Elliot will eat? What if a flight we are supposed to be on gets cancelled and we have an overnight layover and I can't find soy milk for Elliot or a food that he would eat? What if the grocery stores in Grand Bahama (where we live) stop stocking the specific soy milk that my son drinks? What if Elliot develops more food allergies? What if Elliot stops eating all his preferred foods? (If you're new to this blog, it is a blog about an extremely picky eater boy who is very very low on the growth chart, so it's a somewhat valid concern.)
When I was nursing and pumping and producing breast milk, none of these were a serious concern. I had nutritious milk for Elliot 24/7, no matter what situation we were stuck in, and that gave me a sense of security. And now that the security is gone, all of these irrational fears get into my head sometimes.
So while I was super ecstatic to be able to stop pumping and get an extra 1-2 hours of my life back every day, I definitely had conflicting feelings about not pumping. There were times I panicked and almost started pumping again to get my supply back up. There were times I cried about the fact that I was no longer producing nutritious breast milk for my baby after being able to nourish him for so long. But boy am I glad to not have to pump first thing in the morning, or late at night before I can go to sleep!
Now that it's been almost two months since I stopped pumping, I cannot imagine going back to that. But that's not to say I totally relaxed about the feeding situation! I stock up on the specific soy milk that Elliot drinks and we always have at least 2-3 extra containers in our fridge. I stock up on baby food just in case we have a power outage and I can't make pasta or baby food for Elliot. (Read my post about how to make high-calorie baby food.) It looks like motherhood is turning me into a food hoarder.
But in all seriousness, I just wanted to share my experience with quitting pumping to see if anyone else experienced these feelings when they were ready to stop pumping or nursing. If so, please leave me a comment and let me know how you dealt with this!
Monday 14th of November 2022
Currently struggling through this exact situation. 13 month old low on growth chart and picky eater. All the food fears are real. I just dropped to pumping twice a day and am so mixed about stopping or not. It would make some things so much easier but then she doesn't get my milk. I don't know if I will ever emotionally be ready and I don't know what to do.
Friday 18th of November 2022
I know, it's so hard... I think there is no wrong decision here though! If it helps, you'll probably forget about this internal struggle a year from now. It feels like a HUGE decision at the moment but there really is no one "right" way or amount of time to keep pumping. Take care of yourself too!
Wednesday 29th of June 2022
Thank you so much for this! I am starting the wind down from pumping and am down to 6 oz a day and am feeling a bit down. My baby is 14 months old and i planned on going to 12, but i am so ready to get back my 4 hours a day an ability to move freely. Thanks again!!!
Friday 19th of August 2022
Good luck!! I still think about that transition time once in a while.. it's definitely bittersweet.
Friday 15th of January 2021
Oh, definitely not alone! Crazy? Maybe hahaha.. I definitely felt crazy going through all this!! Hang in there. If you think it's time to quit then just follow through with it. It was emotional and hard then but several months later when I got used to a new routine that did NOT involve pumping, life was so much better!
Friday 15th of January 2021
I know this was written almost 2 years ago but it was extremely helpful. Thank you for sharing! The fears you describe especially with an extremely picky eater + allergy and other issues kid literally describe all the thoughts going through my head right now trying to quit pumping. I even did the same thing of panicking and starting to pump again at least twice after getting to a stage where I pump only an ounce and skip a day or two. Thank you for confirming I’m not crazy or alone 😆