It’s done. Finished. No going back now! My breasts are now completely empty, the breast pump has been put away. Part of me is sad, but I’m now at the point where I feel an immense sense of relief!!!
My decision to stop pumping started emerging about a month ago. I was sitting in the rocking chair, looking at the time, and I realized I had to sit down in front of my breast pump once more… All of a sudden, I felt anxious, nervous, completely d.o.n.e. Part of my brain resembled a two-year old throwing a tantrum! I DON’T WANT TO DO IT! And I thought… Maybe this means that it’s time to stop?
I mean, I never made any promises as to how long I would continue feeding my daughter breast milk. I had a full freezer full of milk and so I knew that even if I decided to stop, there would still be enough milk for at least two weeks full-time, and longer if I did half breast milk and half formula.
I called my boyfriend up at work and told him how I felt, how thinking about sitting in front of my breast pump just one more time made me feel nauseous. I didn’t want to do it anymore. He was very sympathetic, told me he understood. And at the same time he felt as though there was something else I was feeling that I wasn’t saying, and he suggested that maybe I choose the date of my daughter’s fifth months as a date to stop fully. Until then, I could start cutting down my production perhaps?
What was my initial reaction to that suggestion? Yeah… no! Soooo not gonna happen! I didn’t think I could last another 10 days! Yet, I had this horrible feeling of guilt lingering in my gut. Part of me didn’t want to stop. Part of me felt as though I would be giving up something that had meant a lot to me.
Pumping my milk had been an act of love for my daughter (not that I think that people who don’t pump their milk don’t love their children!). I knew that, even if breastfeeding hadn’t worked for me, at least I was doing something to give my daughter the best of me. And at the same time, I wasn’t spending a small fortune on formula, which was awesome! But pumping was taking longer and longer, and at this point, it took a minimum of 45 minutes every three hours to get all of my breast milk out. My right boob was still highly producing. But my left one was nearly empty. If I could get a measly ounce out, I was lucky.
And all of this made me an emotional mess. I didn’t pump all night. I didn’t pump for 8 hours the next day. At about 8pm that night though, my breasts completely engorged and ready to pop, I decided, f* this. This is still too important to me. It might take a while, but there’s a reason I’ve been doing this. I got the pump out, and emptied my breasts. I felt relieved (physically and emotionally).
I decided not to put a timeline on it, but to try and wean my production. I knew that this second wind wouldn’t last eternally, and that, if I could make it until the five month mark, I would be happy.
I looked up advice to figure out how to go about weaning. It’s not easy to figure out how to do it when you’re using a pump! After just 24 hours, the pain in my breasts was so bad that I didn’t know if it was really a good idea to go cold turkey.
My suspicions were confirmed. It’s best to cut your production slowly. Apparently, cutting off pumping cold turkey can lead to a fever, feelings of depression, and sheer pain. Most websites advised not to use medication to dry up your production.
And so for the next 10 days, I tried pumping less often (going from every 3 hours to every 6 hours). I decided not to empty my breasts fully – instead getting 5 ounces and then stopping.
On the day of my daughter’s five-month birthday, I knew that the time had come to stop for good. This time around, it felt right. I didn’t feel anxious about it anymore. I knew it wasn’t a big deal at the end of the day, and that formula wouldn’t kill her. She was eating food already, she was happy and healthy, and that’s all that mattered for me in this case.
No matter what I did to wean slowly though, the pain in my right breast was pretty horrible for the first two days (sorry girls, gotta be honest!!). My left breast after all was almost empty already anyway! It felt like my nipple was gonna rip apart from the pressure.
I actually looked ridiculous at first too! My right breast must have been twice the size of my left one. Thank goodness I didn’t have to go anywhere those two days because that would have just been embarrassing.
Wearing a sports bra was a good idea. It kept my breasts in firmly but not chokingly tight, and prevented them from leaking too much. However, no matter what you do, breast pads are a must because you’ll be leaking a considerable amount of milk for the first few days.
Putting warm compresses also felt amazing when the throbbing was at its worst! Taking baths helped relieve the pressure that was building on my chest.
On the third day, the pain was mostly gone. If my daughter kicked me in the chest (which she seems to thoroughly enjoy, obviously) it would hurt, but at least I could go about my day more normally.
Every day, I would try and squeeze a little milk out manually to help the process of emptying my breasts. Don’t empty them completely because that will keep your production going! By the end of the week, I felt normal again – my breasts were an acceptable size again. They were still a bit firm and tender, but they weren’t bothering me anymore.
And 10 days later, it was done. They were empty, and my breasts weren’t sore anymore.
Did my nipples look as wrinkled before I got pregnant? Were they so small?? I couldn’t remember (next time maybe I should take a picture)! After 9 months of pregnancy and 5 months of pumping, the memory of my pre-baby breasts was long-gone! I thought I remembered them being a little more perky though. I went to see my boyfriend and asked him; “do they look different from before I had Souris?” Maybe a little different, but nothing radical.
The change isn’t dramatic. I don’t feel ashamed with my new breasts. They speak of the adventure my body went through, they tell the story of my love for my daughter.
And good god, does it feel good not to have to interrupt my day to sit down and mindlessly pump away! My time is now entirely devoted to my highly active and increasingly mobile daughter. I no longer have to feel the pain of engorgement, and no longer have to monitor my coffee and alcohol intake! Don’t doubt for a second that I didn’t enjoy that 4th cappuccino I could make myself, and the second beer in a row I could have with my dinner!!
In the end, I don’t think my daughter notices a difference between breast milk and formula. I have to admit that I felt a slight tinge of disappointment when she took her first bottle of formula and chugged it without stopping to notice a change in taste! But at the same time, I’m very happy that she’s going about her business without worry.
And so here I go, on to my next adventure with baby in tow!!