Before I had a baby, I always thought I’d breastfeed for a full year. It felt like the right thing to do, and I didn’t even consider another timeline… Until I had my daughter, Amalia.
After a few weeks of nursing, the initial pain and bleeding nipples (yes, that’s a thing) subsided and we were in a good groove. I was so happy doing it, but realized how attached I was to her every day—literally.
Compared to many other mamas, I was lucky. I produced milk and my baby latched. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.
But after about two months, we started having some (minor) issues. The first was that every time Amalia would nurse, as opposed to getting pumped milk from a bottle, she would throw up. Like a lot. She would also get worse gas from breastfeeding than from the expressed milk.
I talked to friends, our baby nurse, and our doctor and tried every single thing they suggested. I changed her feeding position (head as far up as possible). I pumped for five minutes before feeds. I held her upright for 20 minutes after each feed. I gave her gripe water. Trust me, I tried it all! But no matter what, bottles were better for her little tummy. So I started pumping more and nursing less.
While I loved the act of actually nursing my daughter, with her little hand rubbing my back and her eyes looking up at me, I despised pumping. It hurt, I was constantly attached to my pump, and I felt like a milk machine.
But I continued to do it because I wanted what I felt was best for my baby.
If you don’t want to nurse at all, that’s great. If you want to keep going for two years, by all means, make that happen, mama! I don’t think that you have to breastfeed for any certain amount of time, and truly believe that whatever feels right for you and your baby is the right answer for you and your baby. There are so many stigmas around how you feed your child and that’s one thing I’m trying to combat in some small way by writing about it on my blog.
Ok, back to the story… So I did a mix of pumping and breastfeeding until she was three months and finally just couldn’t do it anymore. I was exhausted, and it was making me feel sad and anxious. Something my friend Arielle said to me stood out during this time.
Her philosophy is: You should breastfeed as long as it makes both you and your baby feel happy. Such a simple thought, but something that most moms can’t see because of the pressures we get from our families, friends, and doctors.
We had already been giving her this organic formula once a day for her night feed so I knew she could handle it.
So at three months we added one more bottle of formula a day, which meant one less pumping session for me. That was so exciting and made me a happier human, which in turn made me a better mom.
Over the course of the next two months we added one bottle at a time each week until she was on formula only (at about 4.5 months).
People warned me that I would have a hormonal drop when I weaned her, but because I did it so slowly, it wasn’t bad. The week when I dropped the last breastfeed, I was definitely weepy and emotional, but I also got my period the week after so it was probably a mix of the hormonal drop and PMS.
As soon as I stopped nursing entirely, Amalia and I were both just so much happier together. It felt like the pressure was off and we could just enjoy our time without me having to run off and pump while figuring out what to do with her or have her get frustrated as she tried to nurse.
Health-wise, she’s doing great now at six months old. She’s growing at the rate she’s supposed to and her motor and developmental skills are insane.
As of five months, we also started feeding her solids and we’re upping the amount of “real” food she gets each week, which makes me feel better too. (You can read more about my philosophy on solids.)
So that’s our story! Since I shared it on my blog, many moms have thanked me for taking the pressure off of them as well. No one had told them that it’s “ok” to stop nursing whenever they wanted to. I’m obviously not a doctor, but I do know that when you go with your gut as a mother, it’s usually the right decision.