From Breast to Bottle: When it’s OK to Stop Breastfeeding

When it’s OK to stop breastfeeding is a hot topic right now.

So when is it?  Really…Bueller…anybody?  

Everyone seems to have an opinion, yet they are all different and From Breast to Bottle, When It's Ok to Stop Breastfeedingnobody is right. 

I fought.  I fought really, really hard.  From the beginning, the journey to motherhood was a challenging one, I had to put up a good fight almost instantly. 

I fought against the unpredictable nature of my body.  

I fought to pick up my shattered emotions with each negative pregnancy test.

I fought to hide my own jealousy and pain at each and every pregnancy announcement that seemed to flood my Facebook feed or mailbox.

I fought not to allow myself to be swallowed by bitterness, but to be genuinely happy for my newly pregnant family and friends.

I fought to find for myself and my babies that moment when it’s ok to stop breastfeeding.

I am blessed to have had this experience, to have had the strength to keep fighting all along the way.  I am blessed with two amazing, healthy little boys who fill my heart with utter joy.  I didn’t give up the fight, because I knew, deep down, that I was meant to be THEIR mother.

The day our boys were born wasn’t any different from all of the months prior to their arrival.  I was going to fight to do everything I could for them.

Breastfeeding, the most natural thing in the world, was no different for me, it too was a bit of a fight.  I kept wondering, when it’s OK to stop breastfeeding?

I had watched so many women beautifully breastfeed their babies.  Really, they all made it look so easy and magical!

So, naturally, I expected to be able to make that choice for my babies as well.  Before the boys were born, I took the classes, read the books, polled all my friends and family for breastfeeding advice and refined my tandem feeding skills with Cabbage Patch dolls.   

So much of my experience from conception, pregnancy and delivery was out of my control.  I had to trust the guidance of the medical professionals that were caring for me, which I happily did.  But, once I had two healthy babies in my arms, I wanted to take back the control and do what I felt was best for them…which I believed was nursing them.

I was ready to exclusively nurse my babies for a year…and you know what, nothing was going to stop me.

Despite my fierce determination and what I felt was adequate preparation, unfortunately, the first bit of motherhood didn’t go at all how I had planned.

As soon as I was in recovery, I had a nurse on each side of me, squishing my boobs into hamburgers, trying to get my boys to latch…unsuccessfully.

Only a few hours after they were born, I was hooked up to a pump or trying to nurse constantly.  Lactation consultants were flooding my hospital room, trying every trick in the book to get my boys to latch and efficiently nurse.

Hell…we even turned to dripping donor milk from syringes down my nipples to coax the boys into latching. Yes, ladies, I tried EVERYTHING!

By the time we got home, we were doing pretty well.  We had a routine, were latching well enough and pumping seemed successful.  And although I rarely left our house (because I nursed and then pumped 6 times a day), we did pretty well.  I was proud to make that sacrifice to be a breastfeeding mom of twins.

By three months, I was a formula supplementing mom of twins.  And by 5 months I was a pumping and bottle feeding mom of twins.

Eight months later I was a formula feeding mom.

I had a choice to make early on…to continue my charade of teas, diet changes, lactation consultants, supplements and incessant pumping, or I could own our reality.  There has to come a time when it’s OK to stop breastfeeding for the health and well being of everyone in the family! 

I let go of my dreams to be a mom of twins who exclusively breastfed for that first year.  I let it go for the health my twins. 

And you know what…I felt relieved.  We were all happier.  I was able to let go of a fight that was holding me back from finding true joy in motherhood.  While I stand by my decision, deep down I am still unable to let go of the voice inside me that says “you didn’t do enough”.

Celebrity “brelfies” and non-stop movements to “normalize” breastfeeding are becoming ever popular with the growth of social media.  

So often we hear “breast is best” or the “I would never” statements from moms on the playground, but I ask you, why don’t we just rally behind all women, who are breastfeeding, AND who are supplementing AND who are exclusively formula feeding their babies?  You never know someone’s particular situation.  Who is to say when it’s OK to stop breastfeeding?

Why aren’t we investing our energy into celebrating each other for making the hard, yet well-intentioned choices we know are best for our families?

Those voices within us all come from the comments moms hear when people think they are making helpful suggestions rather than just saying, “you are doing a great job!”  I know that is why it lies within me.  

As I write this, I encourage you to simply tell the next new mom you see that she is doing a great job.  My journey took a detour, but all that really counts is that I am an awesome mom of some pretty amazing twins!  

So mamas, share your experiences with us.  We would be honored to hear about your FEEDING celebrations or struggles.

Chat with us in the comments below.

xoxo, Jenn

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  • I dried up at 4 months and felt so much judgement around stopping. Very frustrating. Although I’m glad this movement should help feeding in public to be more accepted. I struggled with that too. I write this as I squish my boobs into hamburgers for baby #2 and hope for more than 4 months this time! The battle never ends!

    • Linds, you rock mama! Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing, but can be challenging for some women. Be proud of any amount of time you accomplished! Congrats on baby #2…..what a sweetie!

  • Thanks so much for this! After exclusively breastfeeding my first for 15 months and loving it, I’m now breastfeeding one (11 week old) twin, pumping for the other and topping both up with formula. I’m accepting it but also have that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I’m trying to let go of. Thanks for articulating your journey, much appreciated!

    • Your so welcome Becs! It’s an emotional journey and takes time to accept. Give yourself a little grace, you are doing everything in your power to make it work!!! Rock on mama!

  • It took me a long time to accept and feel confident in my choice to be a formula supplementing mom of twins. I also had it planned out that I would breastfeed no matter what. Well after a month on hospital bedrest and 2.5 weeks in the NiCU, we were sent home supplementing on formula because my milk “hadn’t fully come in” (spoiler alert, it never really did).

    For months I agonized over how to get my boys off the formula (mainly due to social pressures-which just made me feel like a failure) to exclusively breastfeed. I don’t think I fully forgave myself until about 8 months in when I met a bunch of other moms in a local twins group that were all feeding their kids in a variety of ways when it hit me that everyone was healthy and happy. We all just seemed glad to have met a “tribe” of people who understood the circus of being a twin mom. Now my boys are one year in and although I am totally ready to be done breastfeeding, I’m still doing it because I’m addicted to the snuggles-It’s the only time they sit still these days

    The funny thing is I have never once judged another mom for choosing formula or breast milk, so why was I so hard on myself?!?!

    • Hi Kate,

      Congrats on making it through the first year as well as breastfeeding for so long! We each have our own journey that we find challenges in, but it is nice when we can give ourselves a little grace and know we are doing the best we can do. We always seem to be our greatest critic. Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience and hopefully inspiring other moms who are going through similar struggles.

  • I will be sharing this with several of my girlfriends who’ve expressed these same thoughts and struggles. Thank you for an encouraging perspective and post!

    • Thank you Ashley for your encourage and positive response to this post! We greatly appreciate you sharing it and hope other moms can relate to our struggles. We strive to inspire and support ALL moms….because we all know that it truly takes a VILLAGE!

  • This was wonderful! I’m a big supporter of fed is best. Not everyone can breastfeed and THAT’S OK. (No matter what anyone else says) Good for you for coming to terms with it and having happy, health babies.

    • Thank you Jehava for your kindness and support. Breastfeeding, although beautifully natural, just isn’t that easy for every mom. All moms deserve support and encouragement to make the choices that they feel are right for themselves and their babies. We are so glad that you stopped by!

  • I had a similar story with my twins, Jenn, so it’s nice to know I’m not alone! It was hard for me to finally acknowledge at 3 months that it was in all our best interest for me to stop breastfeeding. I also felt relieved, but guilty after stopping. I was thankful though, to have encouragement from my husband and mom that it didn’t matter. The battle was in my own mind really.
    Natasha recently posted…The Best Ways to Encourage Your Twins to Be IndividualsMy Profile

    • Hi Natasha! Thank you so much for sharing your experience here with us. Encouragement and support is so important for a new moms, no matter how they end up feeding their babies!