The 14 Stages of Breastfeeding

August 7, 2017

Breastfeeding is a journey. A beautiful, wonderful, crazy journey. And just like any journey, it’s full of complex emotions that hit you in stages.

Some moms might not experience every stage, some moms might experience even more stages than the 14 we’ve listed below. But one thing just about every breastfeeding mom can agree on is that you experience a lot of emotions.

1. Optimism

You’ve read the books. You’ve done your research. You know how amazing breast milk is for your baby and you can’t wait to get started.

Mother Holding Medela Package

Photo via @canderella82

 

2. Frustration

No one said you had to learn how to breastfeed! You’re trying to figure out how to hold your baby with one hand while unhooking your nursing bra with your other. And why won’t your baby latch? And how is your pump output only that much?

Medela bottle with one ounce of breast milk

Photo via @thealvaradoadventure

 

3. Confidence

You finally get the hang of breastfeeding or get into the groove pumping, and you can’t be stopped. You are a breastfeeding goddess whose breasts are filled with liquid gold that nourishes and soothes all.

Mother on bed holding baby in right arm and Sonata in left hand

Photo via @gemma_marin

 

4. Anxiety

You start analyzing every pump session. Did you pump enough milk? Are you over-producing? Why is this bottle a different color than the bottles you pumped last week?

Medela bottle with 2 ounces of breastmilk on a table with a sticky note that reads, "Mommy Time - Do Not Enter"

Photo via @heathrxo

 

5. Relaxation

That blissful feeling that washes over you during letdown. You forget any anxiety and challenges you were dealing with and feel completely at peace with yourself and your baby.

Mother breastfeeding in a rocking chair 

Photo via @gabyjaneen

 

6. Commitment

It was tricky at first, and yeah it can be tiring, but you know how important breast milk is for your baby’s development and now you’re totally dedicated. You’re in this breastfeeding journey for the long haul.

Woman using Pump In Style Advanced at her desk at work

Photo via @mrsberrychildress

 

7. Pride

Your baby is growing and gaining weight…from your boobs! You are growing a human from your body! You are the creator of chubby cheeks and leg rolls and you are basking in the warm glow of a job well done.

Mother holding baby in right arm, flexing left arm triumphantly while showing off her body in a bikini. Stretch marks visible, mom is proud.

Photo via @thelittle.fruit

 

8. Fear

Just when you’ve mastered breastfeeding at home, a new fear creeps in: nursing or pumping in public. The thought of it makes your palms sweat, but hey – you want to do your part to normalize breastfeeding.

Mother breastfeeding on public park bench.

Photo via @mama__soleil

 

9. Joy

Every obstacle you overcome and every tiny milestone you reach makes you giddy with joy. Pumped 2 ounces? Breastfed your baby for a month? Two months? A year? So much joy!

Mother smiling while breastfeeding.

Photo via @hello_mrs.lo

 

10. Annoyance

You’re totally dominating this whole pumping thing. But it feels like the dishes never end. You’ve washed so many bottles and breast shields you’re fingers are constantly prune-y and your counter always resembles an assembly line.

Lots and lots of Medela bottles, caps, and other parts drying on a kitchen counter

Photo via @erinmbeasley

 

11. Delirium

Wake up. Pump. Go to work. Pump. Eat lunch. Pump. Sometimes it feels like all you do is pump. But at this point, the best way to deal with your pumping schedule is to laugh. Because if you don’t laugh, you might cry.

Mother making a silly face while covering her eyes with her breast pump flanges

Photo via @brittneysanzo

 

12. Acceptance

You realize everything is going to be ok. Maybe you haven’t washed your hair in three days, but you’ve hit your breastfeeding stride, your baby is healthy and growing, and you’re happy.

Mother breastfeeding at the airport, winking at the camera

Photo via @susiejverrill

 

13. Nostalgia

No matter how or when your little one weans, an overwhelming sense of nostalgia washes over you. Your baby is growing up and you can’t help but feel a little sad that this special time is ending.

Mother affectionately cuddling with baby

Photo via @mrscoicou

 

14. Independence

When your breastfeeding journey ends, you’re relieved to get your body back to yourself. And whether you breastfed for a day, a month, or a year, when you finish you feel like the strong, beautiful and independent woman you are.

Mother who has completed her breastfeeding journey blowing a kiss goodbye to her pump

Photo via @dresheff

 

What other stages of breastfeeding did you experience? Share in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “The 14 Stages of Breastfeeding

  1. Doubt
    You wonder what the hell you were thinking when you undertook this journey of sore nipples- the teething, strapping yourself to machinery, exposing your breasts in public, etc. And then there’s the criticism- the baby’s not eating enough, are you ever gonna put the child down, you’re spoiling him. Maybe formula isn’t such a bad idea after all.

  2. Never got to experience the “independence” phase after my second, because he weaned when I was pregnant with my third! (Of course, a surprise pregnancy while nursing could be considered a stage all its own lol)

  3. I’m in month 7 and this all sounds so familiar, particularly the pump equipment assembly line. One stage I went through that I’ve heard from many other moms goes beyond frustration. Around month 2, I sent my mom a text, “I hate breastfeeding and I’m so sad.” I wanted to love it, but it hurt, was exhausting and my baby would not look at me. My mom said to hang in there, that it would get better. Thank goodness for that support, because was she ever right!! Now my baby smiles at me between sips and the times I nurse her are some of my best times.

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