We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post when you buy products from our links at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Breastfeeding my first son was chaotic (you can read the full story in How My Short Breastfeeding Journey Isn’t a Failure). From undiagnosed lip and tongue ties that took weeks to resolve to a triple whammy of getting thrush, mastitis and an abscess all at once, it really challenged me and I had many days where I wanted to give up.
But I learned a ton and stuck with it even when my son quit nursing at 10 months old. I pumped until he was 13 months old and chose to view the experience as a success.
So when my second son joined the family, I was so sure that breastfeeding would go differently. I did things right advocating for myself in the hospital when the lactation consultant said he had lip and tongue ties but the pediatricians said no.
Instead of getting the ties resolved at 6 weeks like we did with my first son, we resolved them at 3 days old. I saw a lactation consultant when he was 6 days old instead of waiting until 4 months like I did with my first.
Weight gain was incredible with my second baby in ways that never happened with baby 1. Everyone marveled at how baby 2 had chubby cheeks and how natural breastfeeding seemed to be.
I did tons of babywearing and kept him close to nurture our breastfeeding relationship. He got a bottle maybe once a week, but it wasn’t uncommon for the week to end with only direct feeding, which was a total change from my first son.
So when he quit nursing cold turkey at 9 months old, I was left shaking my head. I had the flu, he was getting his top two front teeth and apparently his patience for letdown had grown thin.
Exploring Formula as an Option
When I look back on my first breastfeeding experience, I realize I probably should’ve let it go and used formula. I was too headstrong, and that resilience led to so much more stress with my first baby than was necessary. I didn’t enjoy those sweet tiny baby days the way I should have because I couldn’t face change and letting go of how I thought I would mother.
So with a thriving work-at-home mom life and two littles who needed a lot from me, this time around I resolved to do things differently and allow my 9-month-old to decide he was done with breastfeeding without blaming myself or pumping and stressing myself out more.
But when I went to research formula options, everything was in flux due to one of the largest formula recalls to take place in the United States. The same week my son stopped nursing, a baby died from an illness related to contamination at a formula manufacturing facility.
All that resolve to do things differently this time melted away. But with an older child, I was also more challenged to keep pumping round the clock. He had activities, he wanted to be out of the house and was demanding. So how could I possibly keep up?
I knew from my first breastfeeding experience that leaning on experts quickly is valuable. So I reached out to the lactation consultant and set up an appointment. We both believed we could get my son back to nursing.
Lactation Consultant for Nursing Strike
I remember the day vividly and all the things we tried. My active and interested baby was having nothing to do with any of it. He could not be fooled into the bait and switch from the bottle to the breast. And the nipple shield didn’t fool him either.
He was far more interested in playing with all the supplies than he was in allowing the supplies to interest him in nursing. Over the coming weeks, I did it all, held him close skin to skin, tried dream feeding, withheld bottles as long as possible, and attempted nursing in a dark and distraction-free area.
Ultimately nothing worked. By his 10-month birthday, I decided we’d both had enough. At this point, I’d been exclusively pumping for a month. I’d recovered my supply from about 15 ounces a day from the flu to more like 30 ounces while still pumping just 4 times a day.
And we faced a new challenge of my baby being constipated because he just wasn’t that interested in breastmilk even from a bottle. We tried different cups and tactics, and he would drink about 12-14 ounces of milk a day.
Meanwhile, I’m bagging and freezing the rest without a standalone freezer or spare freezer. It seemed like breastmilk was the only thing we had room for.
Embracing Exclusively Pumping
The time came to embrace exclusive pumping again or make the switch to formula. Ultimately, I went with what I knew. I knew how to keep a hand pump around for feeding anywhere. I knew how to use my Freemie breast pump to pump hands-free while caring for my children and the home.
So that’s what I did. I stopped bemoaning the fact that I work so hard at the start to breastfeed only to have my littles quit a few months before we hit that glorious 1-year-old milestone. No more feeling sorry for myself because of what my breastfeeding journey looked like. It was time to embrace it.
My Freemie pump once again became my closest friend alongside the Medela hand pump. With those two tools, I could go anywhere and do anything while still feeding my baby. I got comfortable with using my nursing cover and just pumping anywhere, just like I would have done if my son had kept nursing. I decided I would make exclusively pumping commonplace.
And along the way, I learned some great tips for using my Freemie pump to its fullest.
Can You Refrigerate Freemie Cups?
Yes, I washed my pump parts once per day and refrigerated them in between pump sessions. It made for incredible time savings and helped keep my sanity while exclusively pumping. They do take up a fair amount of space because they don’t stack well. But I found the space to be well worth it.
If you have a newborn or preemie though, you should probably consult your doctor or lactation consultant before using this method. Smaller babies are more susceptible to bacteria that can form when refrigerating pump parts between uses.
How Do I Clean My Freemie Pump?
I used a bottle brush to clean my Freemie pump parts. Every few days I would run them through the dishwasher or boil them just to make sure they were thoroughly cleaned. Really, you should boil the plastic parts (not the silicone membranes) daily but I didn’t have the time or energy to do it and my baby was old enough that it mattered a little less.
I always allowed 20 minutes. That seemed to be the trick to keeping my supply high despite limiting the number of pump sessions per day to keep my sanity. I’m not sure I produced much between 15 and 20 minutes, but when I would go down to 15 minutes, my supply would dip. It’s probably different for everyone though and there is such a thing as pumping too long. It’s a good idea to discuss this with your lactation consultant.
My breastfeeding journeys were unique and different. We were so sure that my second son would never quit breastfeeding and that at some point weaning would be a challenge. He loved it so much at the start. But ultimately the end was the same for both boys and I was shocked that the nursing strike hit a month sooner for my second son.
The only similarity that I see between when they quit is that they were both getting those two front teeth and seemed to have a really tough time with it to the point where you could see swelling on their lips.
I may never know why they quit breastfeeding when they did but I’m thankful for the time that we had and for the resources to keep feeding my babies in the way that gave me the most peace despite all the work that exclusive pumping requires.