She Says… Cabbage Boobs

That title sounds like a bad spell check suggestion… but really, it’s true. I have cabbage boobs.

The last chapter of Owen’s and my breastfeeding saga is here. I’ve decided to stop pumping. I’m going to preface this post with a request that I have never made before: If you do not agree with my decision to stop breastfeeding, please keep that opinion to yourself. While I’m generally very open-minded about others’ opinions, I don’t want to hear it this time. I have thought long and hard about this decision and it has weighed heavily on my heart for awhile. So, please. I have enough guilt already. It was hard enough to make the decision and even harder to write about it, but I am confident that it is the right decision for our family at this time, so I will promptly delete and ignore any comments or emails that make it any harder for me.

That said, here’s how it all went down. I had originally envisioned breastfeeding Owen for a year. When we were in the throes of figuring out the complicated mess of issues that made breastfeeding impossible for us (reflux, a tongue tie, low milk supply, latch issues, etc.), I could barely imagine going one more feeding with nursing, let alone another day or another week. As time went on and we teased out the issues one by one and addressed them, we fell into a happy pattern of exclusively pumping and supplementing with formula whenever I couldn’t pump enough on a given day. A few weeks ago I realized that my entire freezer stash that I had worked so hard to save was unusable because I have excess lipase, and Owen refused to drink the funky smelling milk. Still, that was not the final straw. I continued pumping and planned on doing it until Owen was at least 6 months (January 24th).

However, as I begin to imagine how our lives are going to change when I return to work and Owen starts daycare in two weeks, I realized something important. If I have only an hour to see my son in the morning, I don’t want to spend nearly half of that pumping and sorting milk. And I don’t want to waste my brain space on counting ounces and calculating bottles and thinking about how many hours milk has been out or if it’s gone bad. And I would really like to get back into a routine where I can do things like work out and run errands on my lunch break or after work and not sit chained to my pump.

Still, there is a large part of me that feels like a terrible mother for making this decision because of things that I don’t want to be doing anymore. That’s where the guilt sets in. But, as Benjamin reminds me every day, people make most of their decisions based on their own wants and needs. I am certain that I have given Owen an outstanding start to a healthy life. And the whole family has sacrificed a lot to give him that in the last 5 months. Now that he’s eating solid food like a champ (he can’t get enough), I feel comfortable knowing that his palate is getting a wide range of flavors and textures and his body is getting tons of nutrients and vitamins from natural sources… and they don’t have to come from my body. And, bonus, he loves formula! Once he’s getting all formula, we may even be able to take him off of the reflux meds, because formula sits heavier in his stomach and he may not have the same issues with stomach acid.

The only problem now is how to stop. Since I have always been a low-producer, I thought it would be easy to stop pumping. Boy, was I wrong! Our bodies are made to feed our babies, and it’s not like a faucet you can just shut off. Hence, the cabbage boobs.

Now that I’ve made the decision to stop, I would like to be completely weaned from the pump by the time I return to work on January 3rd, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for slowly removing one pumping session a day, and gradually cutting back the amount of ounces I’m pumping. Instead, I opted to go cold turkey. Or, as cold turkey as I could handle, which is turning out to be a LOT more painful than I expected. I’ve read that putting cabbage leaves on your boobs can help manage the pain and swelling. I’m not sure what’s so magical about cabbage… maybe it’s just that it feels like a gentle ice pack when it comes straight out of the fridge, but I’ve been doing that for the last day or so. I’m also wearing a sports bra instead of a regular bra, since I’ve heard that compression can help keep the swelling down too. I’ve taken Tylenol a few times to reduce the swelling, but I don’t like popping pills if I don’t need to. And even though I’m trying not to pump, I’ve had to pump off 3 ounces or so every 6 hours during the day because the pain has gotten unbearable. I know I’ll have to stop doing that, too, so today I’m going to try to pump even less.

But… wow. It is pretty amazing how much it hurts, and how hard my boobs can get! They feel like rocks. For the first time in my life I feel like Dolly Parton.

Anyone else gone cold turkey on nursing/breastfeeding once your milk supply was established or struggle with engorgement? Any remedies I haven’t tried that worked for you? I’m desperate! But I sure am glad that I’m doing this now and not while I’m sitting at a desk trying to work (and leaking milk all over my nice work clothes).

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51 responses to “She Says… Cabbage Boobs

  1. I obviously don’t have any advice or remedies yet, but I hope the engorgement settles down soon! Good luck with the transition!

  2. BE PROUD OF ALL YOU’VE DONE.

  3. oh man. i can’t imagine how difficult all these choices have been for you but it’s awesome that you can step back and see the forest for the trees and do what you need to do for yourself and your family. you definitely get a gold star. i hope that the guilt goes away because you are an amazing mom and i know that it must suck to feel so crappy about necessary decisions that you make.

    i’m going to try and remember this for when i have to face these obstacles.

  4. I just want to say that I think it is awesome that you made it this far (especially given all the struggles) and while I know the guilt is there, feel sure that you are absolutely doing the right thing. and super smart to deal with it before you go back to work! I will be very very interested to hear all about the transition because I will likely be doing the same in the future (though may not even get to 5 months!).

  5. I think a lot of women (including my not-even-pregnant self) plan to breastfeed for 6-12 months, but that’s the idealistic thinking of a not-yet-a-mother talking. In the NICU, we tell moms that even 2 weeks of exclusive breastmilk can have huge benefits for immunity and digestion. Kudos to you for keeping it up for 5 months! And if he’s already working on real foods, it sounds like he won’t be on formula for long.

    P.S. We even use cabbage leaves in the hospital. Many postpartum units have several heads of cabbage in a fridge somewhere. It helps because a) it’s cold for a bit and that reduces inflammation, and b) it actually has aspirin-like compounds. But if you’re tired of stinky cabbage, ice packs work too :o)

  6. Good for you!! I can’t believe you’ve stuck it out so long, given all the issues that you and Owen have had with breastfeeding. Thank God, we live in a day and age where breastfeeding is NOT the only option for our babies, and it sounds like breastfeeding was never a natural match for you two. All that to say, I don’t think you should feel guilty in the least! You get a gold star in my book, girlie. :-)

    Though my gold stars may not count for much, because I am pulling the plug on my breastfeeding next month when my girl turns 6 months. And you know what? We don’t have ANY feeding issues. I don’t ever pump, and I don’t even have to go back to work. I am just sick of having a baby stuck to my chest all the time, AND I am praying that my boobs will shrink down at least one cup size like they did last time. I am soooo sick and sore and tired of these monster-sized breastfeeding boobies. Is that TMI? Sorry. Also, my girl now has TWO teeth poking through, and I’m pretty sick and sore and tired of being bitten. Plus, she is going great-guns with solids, too.

    I am also quitting cold-turkey. I did last time, too…but it was around 9 months with my first. I was engorged and sore for about 3 days as I recall, but I really didn’t care – I was so relieved to be quitting that I just powered through it. That’s my plan this time, too. Live in a sports bra for as many hours a day as I can stand and hope that the worst of it is only a few days.

    Here’s to having healthy babies who got the Best Start, and Sane Mamas who know when they’ve had enough!

  7. This is the first time I have commented on one of your posts, however, I have been following you ever since you found out you were pregnant. We were neck and neck – the same weeks along during our pregnancy, so it was neat to follow your posts and see how things were progressing for you and often, I could really resonate. My little girl is 5 months on the 29th of this month and I stopped pumping about a month ago. I have felt the same guilt, but finally decided that a happy mommy is better than a miserable, but pumping mommy. My milk supply was pretty low and I was taking fenugreek, so when I decided I was done, I stopped taking the fenugreek and began pumping less and less. I only work part-time so it was easier to do it slowly and come home and pump if needed. I haven’t pumped now for a couple weeks so I think I can safely put away all the pieces to my Madela pump and give my time and attention to my sweet little girl who is growing so quickly. Best of Luck!

  8. Kate, hope the pain subsides quickly. No advice, but I wanted to say I salute your hard work. You have definitely done your best for Owen and he has had such a healthy and love filled start to life. He’s a lucky boy!

  9. I don’t have any advice on how to make weaning less painful for you as my supply was always so lame that when I went cold turkey, I had no issues whatsoever. However, I wanted to support you in your decision. Considering how many tough issues you had to face in BFing, you should be so proud of yourself for making it this long. The nursing itself was impressive you lasted so long, but I can totally agree that pumping SUCKS and I’m impressed you stuck with it so long. I felt like a moo-cow who had no flexibility when I did it. I think your decision to maximize your time with Owen and to keep yourself healthy & happy, like going to the gym, is an awesome one. Owen is clearly thriving, physically and emotionally, having the full attention of a happy mom is so much more important than anything else.

    When I decided to stop BFing, I talked to my pediatrician about it. Besides telling me that he was impressed I lasted so long with my issues (which felt good, I admit), he said he saw no difference between his BF and FF babies. Yes, BM is preferred and if all things went great, I’d still be at it. He reminded me when I told him I felt guilty because if I lived in the Mongolian tundra, I would have no choice but to keep trying, that I did NOT live in the Mongolian tundra, haha. My (and your) life is different – we need to work outside the home and we’re lucky enough to have healthy alternatives to BM – so comparing myself to others was silly. He ended his session by telling me that formula-fed babies go to Harvard too, so there you go. Start saving your pennies for tuition, because Owen has a good chance of making it to Harvard, breast milk or not ;).

  10. Hi Kate,
    Try ibuprofen (advil or motrin, 600 mg, every four hours) instead of Tylenol. Ibuprofen has an anti-inflammatory effect that you need right now, and Tylenol does not.

    Add “Regular Sudafed”, (or generic, pseudoephedrine) to your regime. Make sure you get “real” Sudafed, (psedudoefedrine), meaning, in Massachusetts it purchased from behind the counter with your ID and is not the “fake” Sudafed on the store shelves (which is actually diphenhydramine now, same as Benedryl). Use the Sudafed (in 30 mg tabs) 2 tabs (60 mg) every 6 hours around the clock. You will feel much better in a couple of days. The medication has a drying effect and will decrease your milk production much quicker.
    I’m here – you can always ask me stuff you know!
    Nancy

  11. I had an extremely painful time stopping pumping. My LC told me to take Sudafed (it dries up everything in your body apparently). It helped a lot, plus whatever is in that stuff really keeps you awake :) I found that hot showers helped, even though they told me not to do that. Also, don’t pump to relieve the pressure, even it seems soooo tempting. Just push through. I had 3 long horrible days and then it got better. Honestly, I thought it would never end. Make sure you sleep with a sports bra on for at least a month, the compression keeps the milk from returning (yes, it can do that).

    I feel your pain on throwing milk away. I have a upright deep freezer full of gallons (literally gallons) of my milk. My baby is allergic to cow’s milk protein and I drank a ton, so that milk is no bueno. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with it (give it away etc).

    I felt a lot of guilt too, don’t worry that gets better. You’ll find something else to feel guilty about and that will deflect it. Currently I feel guilty about not making my own baby food and dropping the F bomb in front of the baby 2 times already today. Mothers feel guilty, it’s our thing!

  12. No advice but just wanted to tell you, you’re doing great. I wasn’t able to breastfeed – poor milk supply – but wish I could have and sure there was guilt…and people talking and naysayers BUT, you did what you could to provide for your little guy. You’re a great mom and I agree, why spend that hour you have stressing? Enjoy that time!

    Good luck with going back to work :)

  13. Wow Kate, I am impressed with your ability to think clearly and in a practical way! My goodness, how many mamas I see in practice ( I work in family medicine) who struggle with this too and beat themselves up over stopping or, in some cases, not even starting, to breastfeed. I am sure it was not the easiest decision, but it sounds like the RIGHT decision and that is so important. SO many people cannot say they BF’d for even a month or two, so you’ve accomplished alot than most….BRAVA!!!! :)

    Also, about the milk supply/engorgement/Dolly Parton…..I haven’t read the previous posts yet (sorry if this has already been suggested!), but sometimes SUDAFED will help decrease your milk supply, so that may help with the pain and discomfort. Continue with the tight bras and cool compresses. Ibuprofen also will help with the pain.

    I am returning to work next week and I have been feeling sad/gulity about the transition, but I keep thinking “Do I remember this time when I was a babe? No! Do I still adore my mom? YES!” So that is my mantra…..ALL of this is harder on us, the moms, than it is on our kiddos (thank goodness!) so remember that :) You’ve done amazing things for your little peanut and remember to pat yourself on the back for those.
    I hope your Dolly Parton physique tames down soon :) good luck!

  14. I think whatever decision you make for you and your baby is your own personal business & only a mother knows what is best!! You have shown way more committment to breastfeeding & pumping than most would. I breastfed til 10 months with thankfully no problems. Our goal was 1 yr as well, but I got pregnant when my daughter was 9 months and started to dry up. I gradually decreased the feedings until she was completely weaned over 1-2 weeks time and had no engorgement issues. However I had the added benefit of my body trying to dry up anyway, I don’t know how it would have gone without pregnancy hormones. I’ve heard trying to gradually decrease opposed to stopping cold turkey results in much less discomfort. Good luck to you!

  15. Oh, and PS to all the BFing or previously BFing mamas…..a book that you will LOVE and LAUGH over I have to recommend: “How My Breasts Saved the World” is a wonderful book. I read it right after my little one was born and laughed out loud reading this mom’s account of her first year trying to breastfeed and the trials and tribulations of it…..plus all the ridiculous-ness that occurs when we first “learn” how to do this. I hope some of you (and you Kate!) can find time to pick this up :)

  16. Kudos to you all around. My 3 BF kids are all grown now but Kara is right – Moms can always manage to dredge up some guilt about something or other. It appears to go with the territory. I wasn’t a work-outside-the-home Mom so breastfed all 3 forever but my own Mom, who also did not work outside the home (well – that was back in the day when all Moms seemed to stay at home) formula fed both my brother and I and we both think she was the greatest Mom who ever lived. I don’t remember WHAT I ate when I was a baby, nor do I care. Mom loved me, as I love my kids and you love Owen and that’s all that really matters.

  17. d_m_BeGora@hotmail.com

    I have been following your blog for months now, we always seemed to be going through the same things with our babies. It is serendipitous that I read your posting on the day that I’m returning my hospital grade breast pump to the drug store I am renting it from. I feel tearful, guilty and mostly very, very sad. I, too, had planned to breastfeed for at least 6 months, but encountered many difficulties, starting with a premature birth. Reading how you are going through the same emotions, and following the comments of others has made me feel so much better. Thank you and I believe your supporters are right: be proud of what you’ve done.

  18. I’m also stopping breast feeding by Jan 3. And I’m so excited about it. We have to be happy mothers and let me tell you a working pumping mom is not a happy mom. The day I packed up my pump at work for the last day was the happiest day I ever. I think you’re making te right decision. Good luck!

  19. You have persevered through some very difficult circumstances to continue breastfeeding when many others would have already stopped. You are a trooper and have given Owen a wonderful gift that will be with him his entire life. I have no advice, since I’m not yet a mom, but I only hope to be as committed to breastfeeding as you have been. And I agree with wanting to spend your time in the morning with Owen and getting back to a more flexible schedule. Since you are exclusively pumping, it must be very difficult to be out and about and still pump and feed Owen. You should be so very proud!

  20. Congrats on your decision! I had to make the same one with both my boys when they were 4 months old. We had problems from the beginning and I was exclusively pumping and it just got to be too much, especially with number 2. The first time I had so much guilt but everyone was soooo much happier! This time, no guilt, just relief. My boys both enjoyed the formula thankfully.
    I have no advice for the engorgement cause I was really lucky and didn’t suffer any at all. Good luck though over the next few days.

  21. Good luck and be happy and PROUD for all you do for Owen!

  22. I only breast fed for a week or 2 but had tons of milk at the time and stopped cold turkey and remember how much it hurt! Motrin, ice packs and cabbage leaves definitely helped. I agree with the sudafed, and you do have to get it from the pharmacy, behind the counter, they stopped selling that kind on the shelves. And keep the sports bra on all the time. That should help a ton. If you need to relieve pressure you can pump a little like you have, just don’t do too much, because it does stimulate your supply. I think you have spent a ton of time breastfeeding and pumping, you should feel pround! When I am at work, I never think less of the moms who bottle feed anyway, and either do any other of the maternity nurses I work with. My baby eats all sorts of different foods too, and did so while on formula, not getting breast milk didn’t affect his palate either. Good luck!

  23. I have no advice, only support. Hang in there, and I hope things get easier in the coming days. You’ve done a wonderful job looking out for the best interests of Owen and deciding to give up pumping is not going to change that! Kudos to you!

  24. My little guy came six weeks early and also has some cardiac issues. Because of both these problems we never really got the hang of breast feeding, so I’ve been exclusively pumping. I know what you mean about the guilt about giving it up. That’s how I felt when I decided not to try breast feeding any more- too much screaming from the baby and way too much frustration from me.
    He’s now 3 months. I don’t know how much longer I’ll pump- kind of just taking it one day at a time. Exclusively pumping is not easy. I just went back to work, but when I was home with him it was a constant struggle to feed him, make sure he was calm, and then find the time to pump.
    Good luck to all your your family with this new transition.

  25. You are 100% doing the right thing! You have peservered through so much and it has been great chronicalling your journey on here for all of use to follow along. Now that you’ll be back to work you definitely will need to enjoy every second with that beauty of yours!

  26. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now (I have a little boy who’s a month younger than Owen) and have been very impressed by your tenacity. I recently went back to work and boy do I understand not wanting to spend all your time pumping. It’s no fun. Good for you for making a tough decision that’s the best thing for your family (and your sanity)!

  27. I don’t have any advice either, but I just wanted to comment, that isn’t it amazing in our culture today, how we think it’s ok to through our opinions at people? It’s no one’s business but yours, and anyone who would through a dissenting opinion at you is rude. :)

  28. Just wanted to say that the right decision is whatever makes you and Owen happiest. And I give you a ton of credit for putting as much effort into breastfeeding as you have. I think it’s obvious to anyone who reads your blog how much you love and care for Owen. I went cold turkey when I stopped breastfeeding and yes, it was very painful. I found ice packs and Motrin helped. I literally fell asleep one night with ice packs on it felt so good!! Good luck to you!

  29. Good for you! Being a mama isn’t easy. Every decision we make is weighted against what is best for us and what is best for our child(ren). You are definitely making the right decision for both of you! Owen has benefited from breast milk and he will benefit from formula and the solids that he is eating.

    Breastfeeding is tough. I’m dealing with a plugged duct right now that won’t go away. I called my LC this morning (since I’ve had it since Friday) and she had nothing to offer since I’ve Dr. Googled the crap out of it and have tried everything. So – she said that we will just hope that it doesn’t turn into mastitis and if it does – call her back. Merry Christmas. Yup. Breastfeeding is tough. And sometimes it sucks. But – we all do the best that we can!

  30. do not feel guilty – you have done the impossible for little Owen and he is healthy and happy – all that matters! He has a wonderful mommy! :)

  31. Girl, I hosted a Christmas party Saturday night & Cameron stayed overnight at his Nans. I am breastfeeding & pumping only about 35% of his intake (rest formula) and man oh man my boobs were ROCK HARD at the end of the night. I pumped then in the morning they were rock hard again! I didn’t even realize how much BM he was getting from me until he wasn’t around for a day! I feel for you girl because it was UNCOMFORTABLE! I’m not looking forward to that day when “it’s time” :-( Will keep us updated on how long it takes etc?

    P.S. you did an incredible job at keeping it up against many frustrating odds, so I hope you feel great about all of your choices!

  32. I think the universal truth about raising kids is that things don’t always go the way you expect them to or want them to. Despite our best intentions we have to learn to make major changes on the fly. You need to do what works for you and your child, and no one else has the right to tell you how to do it. You certainly have your priorities in order, so don’t feel guilty! Owen’s not going to come up to you when he’s 16 and say, “Mom, I really wish you had given me breast milk past 5 months.”
    When I quit nursing I didn’t really go cold turkey, but I did have some painful days. If you can tough it out, the engorgement and the pain goes away in a few days. I did notice that weeks later I still had some milk, but that too went away.
    Enjoy your freedom from pumping!

  33. You have done an INCREDIBLE job, especially overcoming the obstacles you have, and even in spite of them. Many mothers don’t ever even TRY breastfeeding, never mind breastfeed for months and months. You are an incredible mother and have done such a great job with this!

    Oh, and my doctor friend that really they think 6 months is ideal and that the 2nd 6 months aren’t nearly as important. The way she put it was that the effort (time) vs. the outcome (giving your child breast milk) drops dramatically after 6 months.

  34. I think that is wonderful that you are moving forward and making a decision that you feel is best for you & your family. I too have made a similar decision and stopped b/fing about a week ago after having surgery to remove my gallbladder – my little guy is 2 months old. I have been pumping to help with the pressure but now I am wondering if I should go cold-turkey as I too no longer want to be pumping as of January 3rd when I go back to work too. I completely understand the guilt but you have done great with everything you have encountered so far and you will do great going forward too! Wishing you the best!!

  35. I don’t think you should ever apologize for being a mom who is making choices that are best for her baby and family! Great job making it as long as you did!

    It’s incredibly painful isn’t it? What worked for me was going as long as possible without pumping. When the pain was pretty intense, I’d pump, just to take the “edge” off. Then I’d try and last longer than the time before. If I lasted 5 hours without pumping and then pumped 3 ounces, the next time I’d try and last at least 6 hours and pump less than 3 ounces. I found that increasing the length of time in between made a bigger impact than the number of ounces.

    Good luck!

  36. My milk supply wasn’t even established (I stopped breastfeeding after the first day) and it took me a month to completely dry up!

    And good lord honey… you’re a great mom. Feeding is soooo important in those first few months, but as they develop – the feeding part becomes less and less centralized in their lives (and in yours). Move on & enjoy all the new stages that he’s starting to go into. And don’t feel ever feel terrible or guilty – there isn’t enough time in this life to waste any of it on something like that, when you’ve done such a great job.

    Enjoy that little handsome man & all his glory!

    PS) What formula are you using? Similac RS if very good for acid reflux.

  37. 5 Months is awesome! Here is a link to a weksite (kelly mom) that gives ideas on what herbs help to decrease milk supply. http://www.kellymom.com/herbal/milksupply/herbs-oversupply.html

    Also you probably know its all about supply/demand, so as long as you keep your breasts full your body will get the message and stop producing milk. If you have to pump a little to relieve the pressure thats ok. Just don’t fully empty the breast as then it will want to make more.

    I hope this phase goes quickly for you, and you don’t have to much pain!

  38. Take something like sudafed…you can’t take it while nursing b/c it will dry up your supply so I bet that would help!

    You have done amazing! It’s been a year since my supply dried up so much I decided to stop pumping, and I still feel guilt sometimes, even though I know I shouldn’t. You have done the best you could with difficult circumstances and you should be proud of that! Your experience, along with mine and other moms I know makes me want to become a lactation consultant even more to help mom like us who had such hurdles to overcome. And, makes me wish we had year long maternity leave like some countries in Europe so going back to work doesn’t have to complicate a good breastfeeding/pumping routine. Could you imagine going back at 6 weeks? Yikes!

  39. You are doing a great job! :)

  40. I agree with everyone else. You’ve done a great job! I have no advice as I’ve not weaned my daughter yet but that process is in the not-too-far-away future for me. I’ll be keeping up with this topic and/or returning to the helpful comments in this post when my time comes. I’m sorry you are in pain. Hang in there and, again, great job!

  41. Good for you!!!

  42. Good for you – you’re doing what works best for you and Owen so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Btw, I only made it about four months of pumping before I stopped and my son is perfectly healthy and I have to admit, it was so much easier and nicer not having to pump for hours on end! :)

  43. Kate,

    I am SO impressed that you made it to 5 months with breastfeeding/pumping!! Every time I read about a new struggle you were facing, I remember being so amazed that you were so resilient in your decision to keep going. Kudos to you! How lucky is that little guy to have you for his mama!

  44. You are such a wonderful mother. You have given Owen a wonderful start — something to be proud of. I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 4 month old and I don’t think I would have lasted as long as you with the full-time pumping. You’re my hero! I am having the opposite problem right now, my little girl hasn’t gotten the bottle enough (with the second I am finding I always take the baby with me so that my hubby isn’t left with two kids — I used to always leave my hubby with a bottle when I only had one!) and she is refusing it. I am stressing because as much as I’m happy that the bf’ing is going well, I need to be able to leave the baby from time to time…..and her not taking the bottle is preventing this. I cannot picture myself weaning to a cup…I need her to take a bottle!:) If anyone has any advice I would greatly appreciate it:)

  45. You’re making a good decision. I did the same exact thing when I went to work and although I felt bad at the time, looking back I think it was really the smart thing to do! I’m now pregnant with #2 and when I stop BF I’m not going to let myself feel bad at all! I ended up just going cold turkey stopping and within about 3 days things just seemed to be back to normal (no more engorgement, leakage, etc..) Good luck, and don’t feel bad!!! You are doing whats best for your family!

  46. On my mom’s computer with limited time for a real comment, but just wanted to chime in and say GOOD FOR YOU. You’ve done AMAZING things these last few months. Your dedication to difficult breastfeeding was unbelievable, and you’ve stuck with exclusive pumping (the absolute worst of all worlds, in my opinion, as far as ease/convenience/etc.) for a while now. You’ve done amazing things, truly.

    And now you are making the next decision that is clearly the right one for your family. Wave the guilt goodbye (yeah, I know that’s easier said than done, believe me). You’re awesome.

  47. Kate, you are a champ and I know what you have been through. I remember the day I stopped nursing/pumping with Lilly and although I was relieved I also felt so so sad. I had waited for the day when I could have my body back completely and I couldn’t figure out why it made me so sad to actually stop. I had just returned to work and the endless hours of pumping never actually happened so I dried up … FAST. I didn’t experience the pain you are dealing with but my milk just disappeared. You have done everything and more and I simply don’t know how you have dealt with it all with such grace. I would have fallen apart by now. You have learned so much and you will continue to learn … it’s mostly a guessing game and you have a 50/50 of getting it right. You will find that you have an emotional and physical freedom now that you are done with the breast milk and Owen will be just fine. You have given him so much wonderful milk and he would have been fone without that as well! If it’s any consolation and I hope it is, Chloe is a nursing champ. I didn’t even think I was going to try again after everything we went through with Lilly but Chloe is a totally different story. She’s quick, efficient, and doesn’t have the goofiness that Lilly did when nursing. I’m here for you if you need anything … I know you feel guilty, we all do, but you have made the right decision for you and your family.

    Love yah,
    Amy

  48. To Kara and anyone else who doesn’t know what to do with frozen milk their baby can’t eat, here is a resource for connecting to families in need of donor breast milk:
    http://milkshare.birthingforlife.com/

    Kate: amazing you’ve made it this far with nursing! You’ve put in more than your share of time with the issues-sorting and pumping already. Congrats!

  49. Kudos! I only made it to month 3. I stumbled over from another blogger =). I went cold turkey too. Used a manual pump just enough to relieve but not pump fully. Or took hot showers whenever I could find even 5 minutes to let the water run and let myself… leak. Mommies are gross. Ha. Still hurt like mad, but it went away within two weeks. I think? My girly is almost a year old now and I remember less and less.

  50. I’d never criticize a mother for any parental decision that’s not to the immediate [or prolonged] detriment to the child–it’s good that you breastfed for about five months; I recently read that nearly 70% of US citizens don’t even try to breastfeed due to the “convenience” of formula feeding. You got through the most important hurdles in your baby’s health–breastfeeding in the first weeks of life help to seal the intestines and develop healthy flora, aid the immune system, and of course it’s better for reflux and gas [breastfed babies obviously take in less air], not to mention the abundance of bonding one has with their infant through skin contact and Oxytocin . I’m sure you know all that–of course you know all that. Which is why I understand that you’re more proud of yourself than disappointed in your decision to stop breastfeeding [expressed or otherwise] and instead use formula.

    However, I just don’t relate to you anymore. We’re almost exactly two months apart in everything baby-related–we’ve got a great deal in common [I suffered with infertility through PCOS, I'm a foodie, etc.] and I feel like if we met in “real life” we may even be friends. But I’m going to stop reading your blog after this post. I just can’t be interested in your existence anymore–I think Owen is totally adorable and I know from all your words he’s very much loved; if you had nothing but experiences with him and photos on the blog, I may still read, but I can’t help but be disappointed in your “I want my body back” sentiments. I know it’s been frustrating, but coming from someone [me] who’s experienced a great deal of the same experiences and problems [horrible GERD that's worsening every day and not responding to medication, tongue-tie, early latch problems, severe jaundice for nearly two weeks after birth that made my baby lose a great deal of weight and almost put me in a straight-jacket due to the every-day visits to the pediatrician for over two weeks, being forced to supplement with expressed breast milk through a syringe for the first three weeks of her life due to nipple confusion and then bottle feeding for the next two, and finally a recurring case of thrush (not to mention a reluctant nurser for the past week due to an unidentified ache...somewhere)] I can’t imagine giving up doing what I know is best for *my* baby–nursing her until she’s ready to stop. Granted, I do follow the “to each his own [or in your case, her own]” philosophy, which is why I’m not saying your decision is wrong. It’s obviously right for you.
    I’m just saying goodbye.

    Take care Kate, Owen, and Benjamin. I know you’ll have great happiness and a home full of love–exactly what you deserve.

  51. I went cold turkey and it took about 2-3 days for the engorgement to stop and the pain to subside. I used cabbage leaves a lot. But honestly I did not think it was that bad to quit cold turkey.
    Know that you have made it far in your breastfeeding journey and have gone farther than I probably would have gone with all of the problems you have dealt with along the way. You gave Owen an awesome start! So don’t feel guilty. I know the feeling though. I was once there myself. But as my mother told me you can be an even better mom if you aren’t messing with all of the breastfeeding issues. And she was right. I was able to focus more time on my little one and less on fighting the issues. There are just some difficult things in life that we actually have the choice to make them become easier. And if we have the choice and it is not going to harm your child or family then why not make those choices.
    Enjoy your new freedom of more time with Owen! You deserve it!

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