Hilary Duff isn’t afraid to admit to the world that being a working mother is hard. Especially when you’re breastfeeding. In an Instagram post, the 31-year-old actor and singer shared the emotional toll of struggling to pump breastmilk took on her. She also announced that she ultimately decided to stop breastfeeding her 6-month-old daughter Banks.
“I am a working mom of two," Duff shared. "My goal was to get my little girl to six months and then decide if I (and her of course) wanted to keep going.”
Six months is on par with The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation on breastfeeding, which says that after six months it’s best to continue breastfeeding while introducing other foods. But ultimately, whether to breastfeed (and when to stop) is a personal choice. Many working moms, however, choose to stop breastfeeding sooner rather than later because where and when to pump in the workplace can be fraught, and even celebrities like Duff are no exception.
“Pumping at work sucks,” the star said. “I had zero downtime and am usually pumping in a hair and makeup trailer while four hands work to get me ready for the next scene with lots of other people around. Even if I had the luxury to be in my own room, it’s not even considered a ‘break’ because you have to sit upright for the milk to flow into the bottles!” She also noted that the breast pump machine was “aggressive,” and finding a place to sterilize your baby bottles and keep them cold was another issue for her.
Banks is Duff's second child with boyfriend Matthew Koma. She also has a seven-year-old son Luca, from her previous marriage, and notes that breastfeeding every baby is different.
“...With Luca I didn’t work until he was about nine months old, so I didn’t pump very often,” the former Disney Channel star said. “Your milk supply drastically drops when you stop feeding as often and lose the actual contact and connection with your baby,” Duff explained. “So I was eating all the feunugreek [sic] goats butt blessed thistle fennel cookies/drops/shakes/pills I could get my hands on! It was maddening.”
Fenugreek is a seed that often comes in supplements, and is known best as a breast milk stimulator, Vox reports. Do your research before you take it though, because it has reported side effects such as lowering blood sugar.
But despite the obstacles, Duff said that she was grateful to be able to breastfeed her daughter for the first six months of her life. “I know many women are not able to and for that I am sympathetic and very grateful that I could,” she wrote. “I needed a break. I was going to break. With the stress of a dropping milk supply and a baby that was getting bored or not caring about nursing when I was available to. I was sad and frustrated and feeling like a failure all of the time.”
Duff continued to write about the issue in her Instagram post’s comments, noting the mental struggle she went through to decide to officially stop breastfeeding.
“It was a constant loop in my head,” she said of her decision of whether to stop or not. “Weighing the pros and cons. And half of the time I wasn’t making any sense. It was about me, and not Banks at that point. I cried many times and felt so depressed while weening. I wasn’t myself at all. Something scary was hovering over my brain and my heart…the part of me that I know is smart and rational. The lows felt horrible. I was missing good time with my baby. But I was really missing that natural oxytocin high.”
Oxytocin is a brain chemical often referred to as the “cuddle hormone” because it’s released during breastfeeding, childbirth, and sex, The Atlantic reported.
“I am happy to say that I haven’t fed or pumped in three days and it’s crazy how fast you can come out on the other side,” Duff said. “Banks is thriving and I get even more time with her and daddy gets to do more feeds! And mommy gets a tiny bit more sleep! Whether you are pre or postpartum. Or just a busy mom, You are a (superhero emoji) everyday for all that you do. Always putting yourself last and running a mile a minute...while carrying all of the bags.”