• Mon, Mar 3 - 1:00 pm ET

My Quality Of Life Has Improved 1000% Since I Quit Breastfeeding

shutterstock_150416126If you know anything about me, then you know that I wasn’t a huge fan of breastfeeding. I leaned more on exclusive pumping with my second kid because I was really sick of the whole breastfeeding scene. Even with exclusive pumping, my body still wasn’t my own, but at least I didn’t have to whip out my nips every hour on the hour.

This is my own personal opinion, and I know that many women really enjoy breastfeeding. I was also dead set on doing it for a minimum of six months because it was good for my kid, and I selfishly wanted the mystical weight loss benefits—which really didn’t pan out for me. But that’s another blog post altogether.

I quit breastfeeding about two months ago because the pumping was driving me crazy. I felt ever so guilty about it, but my mom told me just to stop and stop feeling guilty. What a novel idea. Thanks, Mom!

I read somewhere that it takes about a year postpartum for all of your hormones to get back to normal. I wasn’t the most fun pregnant person, and I always forgot that hormones were still getting the best of me while breastfeeding. I would wonder why I was so tired or sweaty or irrational or emotional months after having a baby, and then it would hit me—You’re still breastfeeding, dummy. Your body is not your own.

Fast-forward a few months after breastfeeding ended, and I feel like a whole different person. I didn’t really connect the dots at first, but I did notice that my mood is more stable and even great on many days. I know I’ve been making a number of personal changes, and I absolutely love my job, but I feel less… irrational/lethargic/weepy/frustrated/serial-killer-esque.

I can confidently say that my life is 1000% better since I stopped breastfeeding. This isn’t an anti-breastfeeding campaign by any means because it is good for the mother and the baby. I know that. This is just a word of encouragement to say—If you still feel totally insane and out of control months into breastfeeding, there is hope. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably feel like your old self again once you stop.

(Image: EpicStockMedia/Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • Nica

    1000% agree. I breastfed both my kids. But, to be honest, I hated every single minute of it. My first wasn’t a great latcher, which was a source of stress. My second, while a good latcher, had a voracious appetite and when I wasn’t with him feeding him, I was pumping to keep up so he had enough milk while I was working. It was like a full time job on top of my other full time job. I knew from the get-go with my 2nd, that he was going to be fully weaned by a year and that’s exactly what I did. No guilt, no second guessing. Done and done. I don’t regret having breastfed both of them, but when people ask me about it I tell them it’s not as easy or natural thing as some people make it out to be.

  • Crusty Socks

    Now Beth can get back to being preggars!

    ##3goestoprinceton

    • Bethany Ramos

      Hahahaha NO.

  • SusannahJoy

    Yay! This is perfect timing for me because I keep getting all upset and “I HATE EVERYTHING!”y and I keep trying to stop breastfeeding, but then I feel like I’m being super selfish because the kid loves it, and why should I take away something he loves just because I don’t really like it? WHich makes me feel all guilty. But I’m down to only nursing in the morning. And then giving up a couple times during the day. Which is still better than every few hours, but still. I will stop. Really. And I know, I will feel better once I do.

    • Katia

      Well you can change up your routine and distract him during the feeding times – go somewhere with a good snack and a drink for him( whether milk or water). I love breastfeeding because I lie down and surf on my phone or play words with friends while I do it.
      Some people get lucky and the baby wants to quit but for most there is no way around disappointing the nursing loving baby when mommy decides to wean.

  • Megan Zander

    I didn’t plan on breastfeeding, bc, well, I was having twins and I’m not a #mommartyr but when the boys ended up in the NICU, the doctors really advocated for me to pump for the antibodies, so I did, every three hours like clockwork. I was also on pain meds from the c section, and the dosage timed out with my pumping. It turns out I was allergic to the meds, but I didn’t know that, so every time I pumped my chest got tight and my throat swelled and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Took us almost a month to figure it out, and even though I know it was the meds and not the pumping I have such a negative association with with it that I break out in sweats every time an Iphone plays the ” strum” ringtone, since that was my cue to start pumping again. Very glad I never have to do that again.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Omg no! I can’t even imagine!!

    • Valerie

      Ugh, that sounds awful. :-( I had a mild case of PPD and I discovered when I was readying everything for my second child’s arrival that the music from the bouncy seat we used for our daughter put me into a depressive episode, I swear. We had to buy a different one because I just couldn’t listen to it without wanting to cry and crawl into my bed. Isn’t it crazy how we associate things with sounds and music??

    • Megan Zander

      Yes, it’s so strange what our minds choose to connect with certain emotions. Glad you got a new bouncy seat, I would have done the same thing.

  • Valerie

    Right on. My daughter would not latch (born a few weeks early- so sleepy and just wouldn’t do it. Got used to the fast flow of the bottle and never looked at my tits again!) so I pumped for about 4 months. I was MISERABLE the entire time and finally one day, I just stopped. And OMG, it was like that thing they say about smoking how after 5 minutes, you feel this. And after one day, one week, one month, etc. I just kept feeling better-er the further removed I was from that final pumping session. :-) I quickly realized that even though I never would have said so at the time that pumping made me resent my baby and beign a mother overall. It was very empowering for me to stop and it made me a better mom, I am convinced.

    • Rose

      This was also me. I breastfed then pumped and haaaated every minute. I felt depressed and a little angry that *this* was what being a mom was, because it blew chunks. At my post-partum checkup at 8weeks, I started crying in front of my OB, and he said, “hey, it’s ok to stop.” I guess I needed a medical professional to say it was cool. And ooooh, things got exponentially better from there. Quoth the sage proverb: if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

    • Guest

      When I dropped from 8 to 6, my output went down quite a bit- that’s why I had to increase from 20 to 40 min each session to bring it back up. If I drop more, I’ll either have to supplement with formula or pump longer than 40 min a session (which would be crazy, IMO). I know supplementing isn’t the end of the world (and we have to do it occasionally as it is)… I don’t know what my problem is.

    • msenesac

      Replied to the wrong convo. Sorry!

  • SA

    It made the biggest change in my life. I wasn’t able to nurse past the 3 week mark because of a shallow latch and low supply (oooh and a case of mastitis just thrown in for FUN!). I really wanted to make it to the 6 month mark at the least so I pumped exclusively and supplemented with formula (due to the low supply). It was pretty much hell. Pumping, feeding, and making formula bottles. It ALMOST turned me into a mommy martyr. ;) She started crawling right before the 6 month mark and I stopped shortly thereafter. (It was impossible to pump with someone crawling to you and unplugging the lines). Everything was better after. I believe I became such a better mom at that point as well.

    • Bethany Ramos

      AGREE! I would always glare at my husband while I pumped because it was his fault somehow, kinda…

  • personal

    I have been pregnant or breastfeeding non-stop for over 5 years. And I’m in my late 40s, so I suspect the hot flashes I’ve been having are not only a result of bfing.
    Are you trying to tell me I could feel better?!?!

    • Bethany Ramos

      I hope, I hope! 5 years? My hat is off to YOU.

    • Callie

      I feel for you! I can only partially relate – been preggers and/or bf’ing for 5 years as well (with no end in sight…due with baby next month!)….I often forget that my hormones have not been “normal” since 2009…..sometimes fantasize about formula feeding the new baby. But too guilty that I Bf’ed the others. Would love to feel normal again though!

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    I loved breastfeeding, until I didn’t.

    I had a year of paid mat leave, my midwife taught me how to nurse lying down, and a friend taught me how to nurse while wearing my daughter in a carrier. These 3 things – combined with the fact that I didn’t have supply or latch issues – made the whole experience pretty much awesome and easy for the first year. I loved the closeness/cuddles/making free food, and because I was off work, I had daily naps so feeling drained and constantly hungry was a non-issue.

    I nightweaned at 18 months because I couldn’t handle not getting enough sleep once I was back at work and didn’t get to have a daily nap. Then as she approached 2, my supply started to tank and I was starting to feel like I really needed my body back. So I weaned her at 26 months – it was ridiculously easy (for her anyway, I totally cried) because she understood that the milk was running out (“mama it’s not WORKING” she’d say after trying to nurse for a few minutes). I’m so glad I had the luck/supports that allowed me to do it for so long, and I’m also glad I stopped when I did.

    I do however miss my cleavage.

    • That_Darn_Kat

      OMG, the cleavage! I miss it, too. With my daughter, she was 5 weeks early, so I couldn’t attempt to nurse her for about 3 days. On day 3, I went to bed a C cup, and woke up a DD. Eventually that calmed down a bit, but since I had been a B before I got pregnant, I loved my BFing boobs. I didn’t get super drastic change with my son, but at least SOME of the boobs stuck around, thank goodness.

  • Kitsune

    I have had the opposite reaction with my hormones. I’m pretty sure breastfeeding is keeping my hormones level for the first time in my life. It’s been so great not feeling irrationally angry and sad two weeks a month. I was really iffy about breastfeeding while I was pregnant but once we got past the initial latching difficulty and I learned how to deal with my overproduction and super strong let down, I love it. I made the decision that if I hated it I would try it for three months and stop if I still hated it. I’m a big believer that a happy sane mother is a much better mother so I’ve never gotten the point of martyring yourself. I’m glad you feel better Bethany, the out of control hormonal feelings are the worst.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Thank you! That is so interesting that breast-feeding treated you differently. When I was breast-feeding, I would seriously freak out to my husband about every week or so when I felt out of control emotional, and he would again remind me that I was still breast-feeding ha ha.

    • Kitsune

      Haha see I have that with my period. I (and my husband) could tell what part of my cycle I was on by what kind of crazy emotional reaction I was having. I apparently am my own best birth control since I’m craziest when ovulating. I also have depression and anxiety issues that are worsened by hormones and I was really worried about PPD but I’ve never felt more even and sane since I’ve had my son. I don’t think I would love breastfeeding so much if it wasn’t actually preventing my crazy.

    • guest

      Omg, I didn’t realize until I read this that breastfeeding is probably what’s making me feel so great too. My kid is five months old and I haven’t gotten my period back, so no PMS! I’m lucky that it’s going well for us too.

  • rrlo

    I was one of those that loved breastfeeding and did it for 2 years. Still I was really happy when we stopped. I can’t imagine breastfeeding if you actually hate it… that would be awful!

    Also, I was less than my pre-pregnancy weight about 5 months postpartum. The secret is not breastfeeding but crippling anxiety!!! Needless to say weight went back up once I relaxed and became human again.

  • Kat

    I’m trying to make it to six months. I’m almost there. I don’t mind breastfeeding when it’s me, kid, pillow, and boob. I really like that it’s our nightly thing to rock quietly in the nursery before he goes to bed. But me and the pump in a freezing, unused office at work 3x a day? That sucks. I really detest that pump, and resent my crappy output (and before you make a suggestion I have tried everything but dancing naked during the full moon and praying to the goddess of mammary glands), which is supplemented by my ever-dwindling frozen stash. The stupid thing is, my kid seems to give absolutely 0 fucks about the kind of food he’s getting — boob or bottle, milk or formula, and my husband’s told me 400 times that if it stresses me out we can just go to formula — but for some reason I’M bent on this 6 months thing. The other night he slipped ever so slightly out of my hands while I was taking him out of the bath and he bumped his head (so lightly that it didn’t even register to him) and I said, jokingly “welp, I guess I have to bf you an extra month to make up for those lost IQ points.” And I wanted to cry just thinking about that.

    OH. And let me tell you what fun it is to have a job that requires frequent travel while you’re trying to breastfeed. I took the pump as a carry on because I was not even about to risk the airline losing it. And then pumping in weird, rando places, because they’re the only space available with a locking door and no windows. And taking your milk back through TSA security. By the end of my last trip I was so exhausted I didn’t even fight them about putting the milk in the x-ray machine.

    tl;dr: I’m over this and I really cannot wait to wean. If I do manage to make it to six months, I’m totally going to buy myself something nice.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I have pumped and traveled, and it is TERRIBLE. You have my permission to quit – you have done a great job so far!!

    • Katia

      I mean you can quit, you’ll just have to buy formula. So it is a cool idea to keep going and use the saved money on treating yourself. Not sure if you’ve tried formula, but it is work and requires taking supplies with you too, unless you’re always at home with the baby. I think it’s nice to make it to a year and then switch to homo milk served in sippy cups or just cups. Formula and the equipment is really over priced and I prefer not to waste our money on that. If you buy a nice pump you can probably get half your money back for it when you sell it. Noone wants your old bottles though..
      If you are going to use formula at 6 months anyways might as well quit, you may want to calculate how much you will spend and think about what you could splurge on with that amount of money;)

    • Kat

      We do a bit of formula. He’s had formula and bottles since he was three days old because of jaundice and my milk not coming in fast enough, so we’ve got the bottles (plus we need bottles for daycare) and a stockpile of formula. No qualms with formula! Hooray for formula!

      I’m going to go at least as long as my frozen stash lasts, which might get me to six months. In an ideal world, I’d love to go to a year, but with my work travel only ramping up in the next few months, it’s really just not possible. It’s one thing to be gone for a day or two, it’s another to be gone for three weeks, which is pretty much what one of my summer months looks like right now (and a) YES, I KNOW. UGH. but b) I really can’t do anything about it at this moment.)

      Like I said, the kid doesn’t care one way or the other, I’m the one with the #mommymartyr complex about it. And I also enjoy bitching and moaning about it.

    • Youthier

      I have two pumps I can’t sell. Everyone gets a pump through insurance now. You can’t give those things away.

  • msenesac

    I absolutely hated breastfeeding so after 2 months of it I switched to exclusive pumping thinking that would be easier. WRONG. I was pumping every 2-3 hrs around the clock (even when baby started sleeping thru the night at 3 months old). At 4 1/2 months, I dropped down to 6 pumps/day (6am, 9am, 12p, 3p, 6p, 9p) but bumped it to 40min per pump. That’s 4 hours/day spent pumping! I hate it. I’m sore and constantly scrambling to get ready to pump. Baby is almost 6 months now, and I want to quit. I just hate that this is getting the best of me, though, so I am just taking it day by day.

    • victoria

      Have you thought about reducing down to 5 times a day, and then 4? I EP for my 9 month old and that’s what worked for me. My supply stayed the same, my body just adjusted to “going longer between feedings” but produced the same amount. I think past the 12 week mark your supply is pretty established. Maybe try dropping 1 pump a day and see if it affects your output. Good luck, it’s not easy but you can do it if you want to :) and if you stop, that’s okay too :)

    • msenesac

      When I dropped from 8 pumps to 6, my output went down quite a bit- that’s why I had to increase from 20 to 40 min each session to bring it back up. If I drop more, I’ll either have to supplement with formula or pump longer than 40 min a session (which would be crazy, IMO). I know supplementing isn’t the end of the world (and we have to do it occasionally as it is)… I don’t know what my problem is.

    • Dixie

      BTDT! If stopping is what is best for you then it’s what’s best for your baby. I EP’d twice…once for 8 months and once for 6 months. I’m not planning on another baby, but if I were, I’d plan to just go straight to formula.

  • Melissa

    At first when our dog chewed up part of my breast pump I panicked, and then when I got over that I was so relieved I had a legit excuse to stop the exclusive pumping madness I did a happy dance and never looked back. Stopping breastfeeding/pumping was like a religious experience–not even exaggerating when I say it completely changed everything in my life for the better, not least of all, restoring my sanity. And I’m pretty sure the positive change in my mood and demeanor made me a much better mom too.

  • LJ

    I had a weird experience with breast feeding. I could give the boob like a pro, but I could never pump. A friend had her baby shortly after ours and she had a freezer FULL of milk. When I went to visit her and saw it all stacked up, like they were saving for winter, I could feel my boobs just shriveling up at the sight of all of it. I didn’t hate breast feeding. It made me feel great. I felt all cuddly and bonded with my daughter but I ended up having this insecurity about the fact that I could not pump. I tried and tried and I would maybe get an once. I just gave up. But, before I ended up staying home I would be like, “Oh man, I forgot my pump!”, just to save from feeling guilty that for some reason I just could not pump milk. My boobs were like, Baby or nothing, sorry toots. -.- My daughter breastfed until 14 months and then she was done. I missed the middle of the night cuddles but I am thankful to be done with it. It just made me feel like, as a mom, you’re always feeling guilty for something. Nothing you can do is good enough for everyone. Which is just super duper lame. Also, I’m happy to be off the boob and back on the booze! ;)

    http://persephonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/karen-box-wine.gif

    • Bethany Ramos

      Haha love the gif! And I agree so much about the guilt.

  • Maggie

    THANK YOU. My son was born after a difficult labor and emergency C-section, and was whisked away to be in the NICU, where he was given formula. By then, the damage was done and he wouldn’t latch. I tried, for weeks, with him crying, me crying, and two rock hard boobs with mastitis. I got a breast pump, and pumped every 1.5 hrs for 10 months to keep up my supply. Finally, I couldn’t take it, and just gave him some damn formula. And he is still as healthy and perfect as ever.
    Maybe I should have pumped longer, but your article perfectly articulated everything I felt. Now that I don’t pump and have some of my life/body/sanity back, I’m no longer depressed, angry, occasionally borderline suicidal. I’m not saying all these feelings came directly from pumping, but these moods significantly dropped off when I stopped pumping.
    Preach, sister!

  • iamtheshoshie

    I really enjoy breastfeeding, but I really hate the sleep deprivation. I have a little baby and big, floppy boobs, so side lying nursing isn’t happening. Getting out of bed every hour or two to nurse is kind of killing me. But now my son won’t take more than a couple oz from a bottle, so I don’t know if it would be any better if we switched to formula.

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