I stopped breastfeeding at 6 months - when I didn't have to. Here's why.

This post is sponsored by Nature's One; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own, as per usual. 

This post has been a loong time coming and when I have something huge to process, this is usually where I come to do it. So here goes. Haha.

Breastfeeding, you guys. It's such a hot topic and one that typically has pretty passionate people on both sides of it. You have people that fall in the middle somewhere, those who could care less about how people decide to feed their babies. And then, of course, you have what I lovingly refer to as the crazies - 1) Breastfeeding moms who think formula is legitimately poison and that you're a terrible mother for giving it to your baby and 2) the formula-feeding moms who get super defensive about having to use formula or choosing to use formula or those who are even grossed out by breastfeeding. 

I'm not going to pretend to know where everyone stands on that scale, but I will give you some insight into my personal thoughts on it. I breastfed my oldest, Silas, for 14 months. We STRUGGLED, especially in the beginning. He was 2.5 weeks early and had a really difficult time latching, which caused me so much pain. I mean, it truly felt like my nipples were being singed off by the fires of actual hell. He had hard time gaining weight, and looking back, I actually don't think my supply was providing him with enough milk. It definitely got easier over time, but he stayed an hour-long nurser and was still nursing 7x a day when we weaned at 14 months (again, I'm pretty sure it was because my supply was so low and I just didn't realize it).

We finally started supplementing around 10 months with Nature's One Baby's Only Organic Formula (we did tons of research and it's the closest thing to breastmilk on the market!) because he was still so tiny and honestly, in hindsight, part of me feels incredibly guilty that we waited so long. The moment that will forever be etched in my memory is the first time he had a full bottle of formula before bed, near the end of us weaning. Matt and I had always considered Silas to be a light sleeper - he usually flopped around all night long. Well, that first night, when we fed him 6 oz of Nature's One formula, he literally didn't move a muscle the entire night. I'm pretty sure he had just been hungry all those other nights, which is why he tossed and turned.. and that realization broke my heart into a million pieces.

With Verity, we went in eyes wide open, knowing the struggles that can accompany breastfeeding and feeling a little more prepared for it, in general. She was born at 39 weeks 3 days, so basically full-term, and had a great latch. Girlfriend loved to eat and other than those first 10 days of raw nipples, she was nursing like a champ! I actually had the opposite problem with her - my supply was so good that she was pretty much drowning in milk. So much so, that she had weeks of projectile vomiting before we figured out that she was just being overfed. I'm talking, exorcist-style, 4 ft radius, gallon-volume of milk, projectile vomiting. It was actually kind of impressive haha. We finally did a weighted feed and found out that at 6 weeks, she was transferring 3.5oz of milk in 7 minutes on ONE SIDE. I had been feeding her 10-12 min on BOTH sides. #whoops. We switched to block feeding after that and nursing massively improved, for both of us. 

At around 4-5 months, Verity went from only nursing for 7-10 minutes on one side to nursing 15 minutes on both sides (she just needed more milk as she grew bigger). However, this is where the cracks started showing. Nursing a baby 6 times a day is hard enough but nursing a baby 6 times a day, for 30 minutes each time, while also trying to entertain a 2-year-old is damn near impossible. I began getting so frustrated and so overwhelmed every time I nursed her - I was basically immobile, stuck on the couch or chair, while Silas touched everything in the house he wasn't allowed to touch. 10 minutes? He was fine! 30 minutes? It was pretty much a free-for-all at that point. I just got angrier and angrier every time I had to feed her.

One night in particular, when she was around 6 months old, I was headed to a friend's house and sobbing on the phone to my mom.

"I don't want to do this anymore! I HATE IT. I'm dreading feeding her every single time."

My mom said, "Brenae. You know you don't HAVE to nurse her, right?"

Uhh. What do you mean?! I CAN STOP??

"But it's so much healthier for her," I choked out between sobs.

"Honey, it's actually healthier for everyone for you to be a happy, loving mom. Not angry. Not frustrated. And if that's what I takes, THEN DO IT and be free! There's nothing wrong with being done."

It was like a 100lb weight was lifted off my chest, hearing those words. I genuinely had never considered the fact that I COULD stop anytime I wanted. I nursed her for 6 months, I enjoyed most of that time. And I had the choice to stop if it was no longer healthy for me, which it wasn't. WHAT?! 

Up to this point, I had been feeling so resentful of Matt and his freedom, to go anywhere he wanted, whenever. To be gone for 6 hours, golfing, if he so chose to (I mean, it's rare he does that, but still! He had options). I was feeling so claustrophobic, so STUCK, and it was making me such an angry person. My mom was 100% right.. breastmilk might truly be "better", but my kids having a mom that wasn't ready to fly off the handle at any given moment? THAT is the best thing, by far.

Having been a breastfeeding mom, I felt incredible guilt at first. Guilt that I COULD have kept nursing her. My supply hadn't dropped, she wasn't having weight issues, there was no physical reason to stop. But as I introduced a bottle to her (using Nature's One formula once again), as I gained an hour of two of freedom, an afternoon alone, and finally, once she was weaned entirely, the ability to be gone whenever I wanted, for however long I wanted.. I found my sanity.

I was happy again! I was RELIEVED. I can't even describe how I feel now - it literally changed my entire outlook on this whole season of life. Two under 2.5 is hard but man, I am LOVING these days now. And after talking to so many other mamas and sharing my story, I knew I had to write this post. Because you guys, there are SO MANY MOMS out there that feel this way!! I know because they've told me! And they feel guilty and sad and some have even been told by family members that it's too selfish for them to stop, to basically just suck it up and finish out the year. WHAT?! I'm so grateful that my husband and family supported me in my decision and I want to encourage others in that same boat, that IT IS OKAY to stop breastfeeding. IT'S OKAY!!! Your baby will be fine AND you will be fine. So shove that mom-guilt to the side and BE FREE to make whatever choice you need to. The best gift you can give your babies is a healthy, whole, HAPPY mama. 

And honestly, finding Nature's One Baby's Only was a godsend for us. If you've followed our family for any amount of time, you know that I'm pretty much a freak about what we eat and put in our bodies. I'm always looking for the best option for us, the healthiest choice. And that's why I love this company! Yes, they've sponsored this post, but it's because I reached out to them and asked if they wanted to partner together on a blog series.. I love their formula THAT MUCH!!

For one, it's super similar to breastmilk in terms of color and consistency, in my opinion. Most formulas are thick and heavy, while breastmilk is thin and light - Nature's One formula is the closest I've seen visually to breastmilk. My kids have never had the tummy issues that plague some formula-fed babies. They never even noticed a difference, honestly! I remember trying to give Silas a small bottle of another brand early on and him gagging and sputtering it out, probably because it tasted so bad haha. But with Nature's One , both of my kids never even batted an eye at the change - they literally drank the whole bottle without any indication that it was different than what they tasted when they nursed. THAT was honestly the biggest selling point for me - I mean, they would know better than anyone, so it HAD to taste similar to my breastmilk! Which is amazing.

And okay, well... if you made it this far, you're my hero, haha! I'm sorry this is so long but it really just had to be said. The days are long, but the years ARE short and there are so many other things to focus your energy and time on, mamas. And honestly, 20 years from now, it won't matter whether you breastfed or formula fed! Bottom line.. just feed your baby. However that looks like. Whatever you choose to do. Breastfeed for 2 years. Formula feed from day 1. Do a mixture of both. Find what works for you, your babe, your family, your own mental health and JUST BE FREE.