Sometimes exclusive pumpers get overwhelmed with pumping and want to stop, but feel guilty about doing that. Here are some common reasons for this, and what you can do to make things more manageable while you decide if you want to wean.
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Reasons people feel guilty for weaning from the pump
Here are some of the reasons that I hear from parents who feel guilty about weaning. (Obviously, not all of these might apply to you, and maybe none of them do.)
1. They’re worried baby might not do as well on formula as breast milk
They might be concerned that baby won’t tolerate formula as well as breast milk, or baby will get more ear infections, that kind of thing.
(Note: You can always test out formula first before making a decision to see how baby takes it.)
2. They’re worried they’re letting their baby down
We hear a lot about the benefits of breast milk for babies. For some, making the decision to stop giving breast milk can feel like they aren’t giving baby the “best.”
3. They’re worried they’re being selfish
The stereotype that we have of a “good” mother in our society is one who is selfless, who always puts everyone else first.
Some people may worry that making a decision that benefits themselves is selfish, and that therefore they are a “bad” mother.
It’s okay to stop pumping
I don’t think that it’s selfish to stop pumping, and I think your baby will be fine whatever decision you make.
Remember that you are more than your breast milk. You have many gifts to give your baby – your time, your love, your snuggles – and it’s okay to focus more on those gifts rather than on pumping to give your baby milk.
It’s also okay if you need more time to yourself to fill your cup so you can be a happier, more present, parent.
Finally, you’re important, too. You’re a human being, and you matter. You are more than your baby’s parent – you have needs of your own, and it’s important to meet those needs.
What to do if you want to stop pumping but feel guilty
If you’re feeling guilty or unsure, I recommend taking weaning slowly. It’s not unusual for me to get emails for parents who weaned because they were overwhelmed, and then changed their mind and decided to relactate.
Relactation can be challenging, so it’s a good idea to be sure you want to stop.
First, I’d think about why you want to wean. There might be things that you can do to solve some of the issues that you’re struggling with. More on this here.
If you’re just overwhelmed in general, here’s what I recommend doing if you’re still not sure.
1. Drop a pumping session
Pick the pumping session that is the most annoying to you or the most stressful to manage. This could be the middle of the night pumping session, or a session where you often have to wrangle a fussy baby while you do it.
Stop pumping at this time (more on how to do this here), and re-space your other sessions to times that work for you.
2. Reevaluate how you feel
With that session dropped, do you feel like things are more manageable? Or are you still overwhelmed?
If you things are more manageable, you can keep pumping on your new schedule indefinitely, until you are ready to cut down again.
3. If you’re still overwhelmed, drop another pumping session
Pick the next most annoying pumping session, and drop that one.
After a few days to a week, reevaluate how you feel again, and either stay where you are or drop another session.
4. Repeat until you’re either feeling good about exclusive pumping, or you’ve weaned
Hopefully this is helpful as you navigate your feelings about weaning from the pump! If you do decide to wean, you can read a more detailed step by step guide here.
Want more information about weaning? Worried that you’ll get a clogged duct or mastitis when you stop pumping? Do you want a weaning plan template to help you create your own plan? Grab my one-of-a-kind guide here.