As I write this post, we have fully weaned and my boobs (hallelujah) feel a little bit more like “mine” again. It’s been a long, amazing, difficult fourteen months of breastfeeding though. Highs and lows. I loved and I hated breastfeeding. It was the best thing and the worst thing… all. at. once.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of it, I’m going to just share my usual disclaimer. I 100% no question believe that fed is best. Period. If reading about breastfeeding is triggering, I’d say to skip this post entirely and come back for the new post tomorrow. As always, this is also my own personal experience– I’m not an expert! I was confused by breastfeeding and I made serious mistakes that I regret (hence why I wanted to write this whole post), and also wanted to just kind of get this off my chest. No pun intended.

New Jersey mom blogger Carly Riordan shares her breastfeeding journey


I knew I wanted to try to breastfeed. Even if it didn’t work out, it was going to be my Plan A. I had been warned by friends and had read plenty of things online and I knew that breastfeeding was not as simple as popping the baby on the boob. It’s both natural and something that needs to be learned– by mom and baby. With that said, even though I knew this going into it, when I just went through a long 32-hour labor, I was (as you can imagine) not exactly thinking clearly.

Someone, I assume a lactation consultant, was there right when Jack was born to encourage the latching and I’m sure she said things to me. I’ll be honest, I have a very hazy memory of this though and couldn’t tell you a single thing of what she said. The only thing I remember was being a little worried that she was forcing his head onto me. (To be clear, she wasn’t, but I was delirious!)

I had one amazing nurse in the hospital (Donna) who helped guide me with the breastfeeding after a little bit, but I was still so…. lost. There was a lot going on in the hospital between overcrowding, lots of personal visitors, and getting acclimated to postpartum life. The whole thing was a blur and I remember thinking, “I have no idea what I’m doing…” The hospital is a “baby friendly” hospital, so they actively discourage pumping and bottles and, as a new mom ready to trust the system, I was taking notes. No bottles, no pumping for six weeks, got it. Throughout my stay, they were drilling into my head that I needed to feed the baby every two hours…. and I will be the first to admit I was like, “Umm okay everyone keeps saying this but I DON’T KNOW WHAT I AM DOING.”

On our last day in the hospital, a lactation consultant visited the room. She gave quick, curt feedback and that was…. it. I remember feeling even more lost because it didn’t feel natural. I was actually so turned off by the experience, which felt judgmental and cold, that I assumed (wrongly) that’s just how all lactation consultants are. I just kept thinking back to what Donna told me and trying to practice things Donna’s way.

Eventually my milk came in– it took about eight days for it really to come in strong– and Jack and I eventually got the hang of nursing. I grew to love it and looked forward to every nursing session, especially the middle of the night ones, because it was just him and me in a dark room shut away from the rest of the world. He was gaining weight, I was not engorged, things were just fine.


I say “just fine,” and maybe it’s easier to say it now that we’re fully weaned, but I experienced the strangest thing while nursing, which I’ve come to learn is called D-MER. The first week I was home from the hospital I kept having the feeling of dread mixed with a pit in my stomach. I’ve had anxiety my entire life and it sort of felt like anxiety, but it was also deeper and different. It felt like a dementor from Harry Potter hovering over me… and then it would go away after about 30 seconds to a minute. Especially at the beginning, it felt like it was happening once an hour and I was so confused.

Then I started to make the connection that it was happening when I was breastfeeding. I would want to jump off a building to make it stop, which, yea, feels and sounds very scary. But again, the feeling would disappear after a minute, so I didn’t think it was PPD or PPA. One night I googled “breastfeeding pit of stomach” and bam there it was: D-MER. It’s related to a hormone drop during let-down.

Once I knew what it was, I instantly felt relief. Having a label for the feeling made it feel a lot less scary. Don’t get me wrong, I hated the feeling and it happened every time I nursed and any time I had a let down, even if I wasn’t immediately nursing (like if I got goosebumps or heard a baby cry for example).

It was even worse while pumping (namely because I didn’t have the right flange, more below). People have asked me for advice on how to deal with D-MER because they also have it. Enduring was the only thing that worked for me honestly. Not helpful, I know. For pumping, I would always eat something while I pumped (and tried to have a little bit of chocolate right beforehand. It helped (a little). I think the biggest help was having a name for it and also knowing I wasn’t alone!


In December, I took him in for his four month check up and he had dropped from about the 90% of weight to 37%…. my mom “red flag” radar went off. I knew something was wrong, even as the doctor was assuring me that he was a big newborn and that he was just “finding his place on the curve.” But I just knew something wasn’t right. Even to this day, baby weight and size triggers me because I was in a panic every day that he wasn’t drinking enough. I was constantly worried about his weight, and felt like every check up was a personal report card on how well I was doing breastfeeding him.

December was right around the time where I started to feel comfortable doing things (pre-Omicron) and I would leave a bottle behind with Mike to feed Jack. We had tried bottles a couple of times before, but I was almost always with him so there wasn’t a need to do so. He never exactly took one, but I didn’t worry because it wasn’t a necessary thing. But when I did try to leave him, he never took a bottle. NEVER.

We tried everything. When I say everything, I mean everything. I watched the Youtube videos. I joined Instagram Lives with experts. I bought every (every nipple) and every (every bottle). People were giving their advice, but it was starting to drive me insane. Everyone said if he was hungry enough he would eat. But he genuinely never did! I could be in the room, out of the room, out of the house, down the street. For minutes, hours, a day. Dada, grandmas, aunts, strangers. Not one.

Desperate one night, I posted in my town’s Facebook group trying to find advice. I said something along the lines of, “I’m looking for like a lactation consultant but for bottles.” To which a few kind moms replied, “Ummm so a lactation consultant.”

The LCs in the hospital were so opposed to bottles that it genuinely never crossed my mind that they could actually help with bottles. I immediately contacted one who came highly recommended and booked her first available appointment.


I could cry typing this out because going to visit our LC was one of the most reassuring parts of Jack’s infancy. I felt… heard. And I so wish I had connected with her sooner. It is my number one regret as a new mom.

I don’t want to go into too many details publicly because it’s about Jack’s health, but if you are worried about something and want more details you can email me. Especially if you’re local, I’m happy to pass along her information.

What I can tell you, is that we found out what the problem was and worked to address it. Jack never did take a bottle because he was five months old by then and she assured me he was a stubborn little baby stuck in his ways! Again, this could have been addressed right when he was born had I known to work with an LC from the start. She also helped me get fitted with the right flange size. I had to special order one with an adaptor for my pump with her guidance and pumping never hurt again!

My quick lactation consultant soap box: In most cases it’s covered by insurance! You can meet with yours before you give birth so you can establish a rapport and she can give you tips beforehand. She can walk you through your pump, get you properly fitted, and make sure you’re set up for success before the baby, and added stress, arrives. She can meet you immediately after delivery (either in the hospital or at home) and start working with you and baby right away to get off the ground. I love The Lactation Network if you’re confused as to where to begin– they can show you certified LCs in your area covered by your insurance.


So yea, Jack never took a bottle and it could have been resolved had I known to go to a lactation consultant earlier! What did I do? Honestly I just took Jack everywhere I went. I couldn’t think too much about the fact that he never took a bottle or else I would start to feel extremely claustrophobic and panic would set in. I didn’t really have a choice, so we kept nursing and toting Jack along. He got to travel with me and we nursed in planes, trains, and automobiles… literally. Even boats.

It worked best for our family to nurse on demand and follow wake windows (instead of getting on a stricter schedule), so I really would just nurse him whenever and wherever. Of course, as babies get bigger they can nurse more efficiently and can go for longer stretches between feeds.

Jack also loved solids, which we started to introduce around four months, and more seriously around six, which opened me up a little bit more. And, at the advice of my lactation consultant, we jumped right to straws. It didn’t happen overnight, but over time Jack became quite good at drinking from a straw, so we could give him breastmilk from that in a pinch. But for the most part, I nursed him.

When he went to daycare, they also tried bottles, but agreed a straw cup was his best bet. I would nurse him right before drop off and right at pick up and he would do okay with the straws for the first month or so. And then he was taking full servings from the cup and, again, my life opened up a little bit more.


I will say, the lack of bottles probably made weaning a little bit easier. It was one less thing to “wean” Jack from and I was fairly ready to not nurse anymore. I felt like I had, for lack of a better phrase, milked it for all it was worth. I was tired and I knew I might miss it a little bit, but I had quite literally given it my all for a year.

The first thing I did was get Jack on a schedule when he was about 11.5 months old. Again, we had been nursing on demand. The schedule was easy to implement at 11.5 months because he was eating at least three meals a day of regular food, plus snacks, and breastmilk*. He wasn’t exactly hungry 🤣 (And he jumped back up to the 90ish percentile of weight!) The schedule involved four feedings: breakfast, after morning nap, before afternoon nap, before bed. (With real food meals and snacks in between.) On his first birthday we dropped to one midday feed… he didn’t bat an eye. And then we pretty quickly dropped to morning and bedtime.

* I did start to experience the weaning hormone rollercoaster when he started to eat more food. As he didn’t need as much milk, I would feel the mood swings pretty intensely. It felt like a huge deal at the time, though looking back now it feels like a tiny blip on the radar!

This was a huge relief for me and I knew he would take a “sippy cup” of breastmilk before bed if I wanted to stay out. We spent our first night apart right after his first birthday! It felt so, so good for me and I know it is healthy for him too. The no separation ever wasn’t exactly planned.

I had a friend’s bachelorette trip planned for October and I thought when I booked the trip in February that we wouldn’t be nursing at all but we were still doing morning and bedtime. He was with Mike for the weekend and we decided dropping the morning while I wasn’t there would probably be easiest… so we did. No problems from Jack. I had one day of sore boobs without pumping in the morning, but that was it. I regulated pretty quickly because we had been weaning fairly slowly and methodically.

When I got back from the trip, I was happily going to keep doing the bedtime nursing. At that point, it was a lovely thing and not a “requirement” and since I wasn’t tied to nursing throughout the day, it didn’t feel like a chore.

And then…. I found the tick bite. 😩 In my heart, even before I went to urgent care, I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to nurse. The antibiotic course for Lyme’s Disease is intense and I, of course, don’t want to get Lyme’s. I told the doctor I was nursing and she informed me I could pump and dump to maintain supply for the course of antibiotics and resume after or… stop. I cried. I nursed Jack one more time before bed and started the antibiotic course that night.

And that was that. Surprisingly, I wasn’t sad once it was over. I had a tiny bit of guilt (when do moms not?)… but really for the most part it was completely fine. Jack signed for milk a few times and tried to lift my shirt once and I just gave him whole cow’s milk in the sippy cup. He’s been fine, I’ve been fine.

It took about two weeks for my breasts to feel normal. I pumped to comfort a couple of times and massaged my breasts while in the shower to loosen up the milk ducts. Now I’m feeling GREAT. I do feel like my body is my body again.

So. That’s the whole thing.

TLDR: Fed is best, but if you want to breastfeed, MEET WITH A LACTATION CONSULTANT BEFORE YOU HAVE THE BABY. 

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There are LOTS of weird hormone things when breastfeeding. I remember, with my first, I would have the super strong urge to laugh out loud when I let down. Pumping at work, I had to try to stifle it so the people at my office didn’t think I was nuts. You’ll find that it’s also a whole other learning experience if you decide to have a second child, as my second fed completely differently from my first. Combined, I breastfed for over 2 years. While I cherish those memories, a bit of body autonomy was what I really needed to get myself back fully.


Oh wow! I wonder if it would have been “easier” to wean if you had had more time to process and decide to stop instead of needing to because of the Lyme antibiotics. The shock and surprise would devastate me but I can imagine for some its more like ripping the bandaid off.



I’ve breastfed two babies and it is a beautiful, messy, exhausting rollercoasters of emotions. And yes, I will echo your advice that meeting with a lactation consultant is SO IMPORTANT!! I also agree with looking around to find someone you click with – there isn’t just one right way to feed your baby. Feeding a baby is a lot of work, and moms deserve support. Amen.


Bottle refusal is so hard. After experiencing it a few times, now I think the key is starting early and often with bottles. I don’t know why they push nipple confusion so much…


The first paragraph made me cry. I’m 5 months into my breastfeeding journey and it truly is a love/hate experience. I don’t want to stop but so desperately want my body back. Also, LCs are the absolute best! I will definitely be more forceful and upfront about seeing one immediately after my next birth.


Thanks for sharing! PSA to other breastfeeding Moms… PLEASE ask your doctors to check evidence based resources about whether a med is compatible with breastfeeding! There is so much mis-information (among doctors!) about the need to pump and dump. Very few medications truly require dumping. I am a physician, mom and breastfeeding advocate and this makes me crazy.


Yes!!! Physician here too and this also drives me bonkers. I find it the person is unsure about what the evidence-based recommendation is, they typically defer to pump and dump 😡

I’m sorry Carly was given this incorrect information and hope others see this too – Doxycycline does not require pump and dump, but also there are alternative antibiotics to doxycycline to treat Lyme. Moreover if you only need prophylactic dose for tick bite, no rash yet, only one dose is needed of the doxy.


Just to be clear, pediatrician and doctor were both consulted. I also HAD a bullseye rash and because I got bit on Nantucket (where ticks are extremely prevalent with Lyme’s et al), I had to do Dozy and get tested for coinfections. Anyway, definitely recommend (as always) consulting your doctor and not taking advice from the internet!


You made the best decision for your family in your home. That’s all that matters. Thank you for sharing your experience.

I too am only one to share, once I am through a journey. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.


Thanks for sharing! I’m one week postpartum with my second. It’s going well, but I’ve found breastfeeding to be a wild ride for so many reasons. I recently told a new mom- natural doesn’t mean easy! Breastfeeding is hard for lots (if not most) people for a variety of reasons! And it’s DEFINITELY a good idea to meet with a lactation consultant. But it comes down to- fed is best. So it’s great to have the support and information you need to figure out what’s best for your family.

Thanks again for being willing to share this part of your life with the internet! It’s fun to get insight into someone else’s journey.


Doctors, thanks for weighing in! I had a similar experience with tick bite on Martha’s Vineyard and did the prophylactic doxy…my OB said it was fine while nursing so I am relieved to hear this seconded here


Bottle refusal is so hard! You should be proud of yourself for getting through that. I also think this is why flexibility in the workplace is so important for moms. Some professionals won’t have the opportunity for as much flexibility of course, but when there is the option of remote work, flex hours, etc, I feel so strongly that it should be an option AND encouraged within organizations.


Thank you so much for sharing…ugh I had a roller coaster ride with my breastfeeding journey too. I think it was one of the hardest things as a first-time mom for me. This is such a helpful post!!!


Thank you for your honesty & vulnerability! I’m in my first trimester and VERY anxious about breastfeeding – will I have enough milk? will he latch? how does pumping work? I plan on asking about lactation help at my next prenatal appt.

Sydni Jackson

Random note, I watched videos of how to latch before having the baby and that helped 1000%! Youtube 🙂


Carly, this was extremely helpful. I’m due with my first in April and am hoping to breastfeed but it also feels SO DAUNTING. I’ve looked into the Lactation Network before but my insurance doesn’t cover it (of course). I do plan to sign up for a breastfeeding virtual class through the hospital we’ll be delivering at and then I guess I’ll just hope for the best.


This gives me goosebumps. Thank you for this post. I’m 10 months into breastfeeding and we share so many similarities in our journey. It is such a hard (and often times lonely) and at the same time wonderful experience. Starting to think about the weaning process in a few months and this was really helpful!

Sydni Jackson

Thanks for sharing!! Congrats on all the hard work you did!! I am so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who experienced the mood swings around 12 months when my baby started eating more and nursing less – that freaked me out because I wasn’t full on “weaning” him. There are so many things like that with pregnancy and motherhood… it feels like a big deal to you but you haven’t heard anyone else say it. So thanks for putting that side note in 🙂


This post came at the perfect time — I was just researching lactation consultants earlier today! Other than pump fitting, are there any specific questions or topics you recommend discussing during a prenatal consultation?


✍🏻✍🏻 keep chocolate on hand for dementors AND hormones, got it. But in all seriousness, motherhood is such a rollercoaster, thank you for sharing! I’m still EBF and my little guy does take a bottle here and there but i def want to meet with an LC now to figure out a better plan for daycare transition and weaning!!


Thank you so much for sharing your experience, and your birthing experience on IG! I’m due next week with my first, and as an anxious person, I want *all* the information to feel more prepared. After talking with so many friends and reading online, I’m going into nursing with an open mind to try it, but also decided to incorporate formula and pumped bottles right away to share feeding with my husband. I honestly didn’t even realize I could combo feed from the beginning until finding resources on IG. We need to talk more openly about the many ways to feed our babies, I always used to see it as an all or nothing (all b’fed or all formula) which makes it so overwhelming to choose.

Hannah C.

Thank you for sharing! I am due in December and it is so daunting. I honestly have more worry about breastfeeding than birth.

Valencia Gower

When Aja was born (32 years ago) my pediatrician said ( in the beginning) to pump one bottle a day and let my husband feed her the bottle at night. 1) She would be used to a bottle in the event of an emergency 2) Dad could have some real bonding time with her. We followed that advice and never had a problem switching from breastfeeding to bottle feeding.


That is incredible the advice you were given 32 years ago, you had a wonderful pediatrician.


YES to all of this! Especially the hormonally based mood swings when weaning. I am so grateful that a friend warned me before weaning otherwise I would’ve been totally caught off guard.


Thank you for sharing! I gave birth this August and also had an angel nurse named Donna at a baby friendly hospital who helped out in those early days. ❤️


This is the best post on breastfeeding since Caitlin’s Healthy Tipping Point weaning article and Rosie the Londoner’s tips for breastfeeding.

I had D-MER with my first, a terrible, TERRIBLE, breastfeeding experience and lasted 1 month before I threw in the towel because I was concerned about the growing distanced relationship I was experiencing with my adored child. Happy Mom & Bond won. I tried a lactation consultant who was just okay. The second time, I had incredible lactation consultants, ate more, took better supplements, and fortunately no D-MER (maybe the right advice from the beginning made a difference). The girls were in the NICU several months and I’d estimate I pumped / breastfed for 4-5 months. I stopped when fully breastfeeding 2 began to cause engorgement and all that and I anticipated someone(s) would be coming home soon and I couldn’t manage treating infection + newborn. Happy Mom & Bond won again, although I am so so so thrilled I was able to do all I could for so long and it made a huge difference I know (especially as at 3 yrs old we confirmed what I long suspected but was refuted that my girls are intolerant/allergic to dairy) (I only wish I’d trusted mom instinct on that more but it is hard, you just do your best. I’m stopping myself from digressing… ).

Bottom line, So many different experiences are possible and I guess I’m underscoring both the immense value of good lactation advice and the critical importance of the mental/physical health of mom and baby. Everyone’s journey is unique and dependent on circumstances, however, I think those are pretty central.

Congratulations Carly on your journey and your bravery in sharing such a personal story fraught with emotion and potential opinion.


Thank you for sharing. I experienced D-mer with our first born, & he lost significant weight. To this day (8 years later, we (mom & dad) are constantly making sure he has enough food in general (certainly not a problem, but that fear has not left us still): I never had a great supply, but we were also blindly encouraged to breastfeed only. Giving him formula was the best thing we ever did.

Our second child, i pumped exclusively and weaned off after a nasty round of mastitis around 5 months.

Our third child, we formula fed from the beginning. Nurses & doctors pushed breastfeeding, but it was never a question for us. Our third child being formula fed was the whet decision we made for ourselves as parents. Our children are always with me, I can count on one hand how many nights I’ve been away from my eldest & middle children.

That was a brain dump, and it may not make any sense to anyone. Putting the kids to bed as I write this. We as mothers and fathers are not informed enough about feeding our newborns. We began our journey of parenting, completely sure we would have began with formula feeding and worked breastfeeding in. Not the other wag around.

Carly, thank you for sharing. Your oldest is the same age as our youngest. You’re an incredible mom, it’s not easy. And having more children isn’t easier nor is it harder, it’s simply wonderfully more.