Why I Quit Breastfeeding: A Sober Mom's Story

by Christine Wayne May 23, 2022

woman holding baby

I QUIT.

After a month and a half of breastfeeding, I quit. And it has taken me two months to come to terms with the fact that THIS IS OKAY.

My experience with breastfeeding and moving to formula mirrors a lot of my feelings with addiction and alcohol—and self-worth. I looked for validation and measured myself in ounces.

As I headed into the last month of my pregnancy, I knew postpartum depression was right around the corner. I thought “by knowing” it was coming that I could get in front of it. Get on top of it.

But alongside winter season depression and Christmas season anxiety, I was facing the 5-year anniversary of my heart attack. Memories of my near-death experience hit me the very same day I brought my son home from the hospital. All of these heavy thoughts and hospital memories got pushed off to the side as I discovered quickly that there wouldn't be much time for myself to "deal with" the feelings I had been taught to work through. There wasn’t any room for it.

New moms are led to breastfeeding within the first hour of delivery. I didn’t question this. It was my plan all along. I immediately felt the magic the first time we connected over nursing. Every failure over my 42 young years dissipated as my son sucked successfully.

What I thought was easy in those first 24 hours wasn’t easy in the next. Trying to establish a routine, I was fighting with my body.

At first, I cherished our quiet moments together. The 1:1, heart-to-heart connection. I didn't take it for granted when my milk came in, because I know that's not always the case for new moms. I told myself I was committed to six months, because that was "normal." Expected.

But I started to resent feeding time.

What happened to that pregnancy glow? I was filled with love and gratitude that should have been pouring out, glistening through every pore. But instead, I felt dirty, sweaty, bloated – weighed down. I was too busy, too tired, and too stressed for any sort of self-care. With my shirt hanging around my neck, my life was suddenly not mine.

I stopped wearing a bra or really getting dressed at all. I pumped milk for bottles so that others could help with feeding and the relief was enormous. The help allowed me to breathe. I hated pumping. I felt like a cow wishing the minutes would pass more quickly. My emotions were 100% tied to how much milk I produced. Too little made me feel irritable and defeated, while "a good amount" made me feel like "a good mom."

But what was I feeding him? I was skipping meals, overwhelmed and tired. Was my baby getting the nutrition he needed? Ashton was born early and small. I started thinking that my milk wasn't good enough. And so I made the justification to supplement with formula. Just a little, here and there.

Formula was only supposed to be a back-up on the days I was extremely tired. An emergency bottle when we were out at a restaurant. The "just-in-case" I didn't pump enough bottles. But those events became more and more frequent until suddenly, formula outweighed breastmilk.

I guess it ties back to my old drinking habits and why it was so hard to quit. When I tried to moderate my drinking, there was always a reason to break the rules. A birthday. A work event. A win. A loss.

I quit breastfeeding because I wasn't showing up as the strongest version of myself. Sometimes quitting makes us winners.

Take care of yourself, mamas. They're only good when you're good.

Today I am 35 months alcohol-free, and my son is healthy and loved. Feeding my son and cuddling up with the bottle is now one of my favorite things to do.




Christine Wayne

Author



Also in Conversations

Baby is sleeping in a cradle
15 Things I Need My Brown Baby to Know

by ParentCo.

I want my daughter to be prepared for the situations she’ll encounter because of her race, and to embrace her #blackgirlmagic.

Continue Reading

Surviving the First Week with a Newborn

by ParentCo.

The first week home with a new baby is a little bit of a blur. A chaotic, exhausting, over in a flash blur. Here's what it was like for us, moment by moment.

Continue Reading

Teacher Playing Blocks With Her Son
Daycare's 15-Minute Goodbye Rule Did Me an Enormous Favor

by Nicola Prentis

Prolonging the goodbye is often more about the parent than the kid. And who knows that better than anyone? Daycare providers.

Continue Reading