When preparing to have a baby, there are all kinds of information being thrown your way. The one thing that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, seems to have the biggest opinion about is breastfeeding. The problem is that breastfeeding doesn’t look the same to everyone. For some people, myself included, breastfeeding is actually pumping.
When my baby was born, I had all the thoughts and plans of breastfeeding him by way of directly nursing. And we tried for WEEKS to make that happen. Unfortunately my kid just wasn’t having it.
Related Post: An Exclusive Pumping Story (link: https://www.mamaonparade.com/an-exclusive-pumping-story/)
I was devastated at the idea that I couldn’t feed my baby. I didn’t want to have to transition completely to formula. I knew the benefits of breast milk, and I just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money that formula would require.
So I turned to my trusty friends Google and Pinterest and found about Exclusive Pumping.
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What is Exclusive Pumping?
After doing more research, I realized that exclusive pumping was just that, it was pumping breast milk and bottle feeding rather than nursing at all.
Exclusive pumping just seemed too good to be true. Could this really be the solution to providing breast milk for my son even though I couldn’t nurse him? I was skeptical, but I decided to give it a try.
I had been pumping breast milk for my son since the day he was born. He had so many latching issues, that this was the only way that I was getting my milk to move at all. That being said, I had no idea what I was doing.
When I switched to exclusive pumping at 7 weeks postpartum, I barely knew what my pump parts were called, let alone how I should actually use them.
Things to Consider About Exclusive Pumping
The one thing that you should consider before making the switch to exclusively pumping, is whether or not you will be okay with this decision down the road.
While I know that exclusively pumping was the best decision for my family, it is not for everyone. Pumping is hard, exclusively pumping is even worse.
There have been many times throughout the past year that I have looked at my pump with dread because I just don’t want to do it anymore. It’s hard being stuck to the wall while my husband is playing with my son.
There have also been times when I have seen women nursing their babies and I have been sad and/or jealous that that is not something that I can do with my son.
I also hate washing bottles. So. Many. Bottles.
That being said, if pumping is something that you feel is best for you and your family, then by all means come and join the club!
How To Start Exclusive Pumping
When getting started pumping, it is important to remember that your body can’t tell the difference between a baby getting the milk out versus a machine.
Your body is trying to provide milk for your baby and if you are not pumping as often as your baby is eating then you are telling your body that you don’t need any more milk. This can be detrimental to your supply, and as an exclusive pumper, you’re going to know the second your supply drops and you’re going to panic.
The key thing is not to panic. There are a few key things to do to keep your supply up and to make sure that you are setting yourself up for pumping success.
Tips For Successful Exclusive Pumping
Set Up a Schedule
For the first 12 weeks postpartum, it is important to empty your breasts every 2-3 hours (8-12 times a day) in order to establish your supply. I know that sounds like a lot, but more work now means a whole lot less work later.
Your milk supply is all supply and demand based. If you aren’t demanding it then your body will stop supplying it.
If you were directly nursing, then you would be feeding your baby roughly 8-12 times a day. Pumping is no different.
So figure out a system that works for you and stick with it. Once your supply regulates around the 12 week mark, then you can look into dropping pumps without losing your supply.
Pump during feedings
The easiest way for me to make sure that I am pumping enough, especially in the beginning, is to pump every time I feed my baby.
A hands free pumping bra is a must! Get yourself all set up, prop your baby on your knees or a pillow, and do your thing.
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Feeding my son while I pump not only helps me to stay on schedule, but it also means that he will be distracted for a little while so that I can (hopefully) get a full pumping session in.
I tried pumping and then feeding him, but I felt like all I did was deal with milk all day long. Pumping and feeding at the same time meant that I could do other things in between sessions. It gave me more time to spend with my baby, or just to have to have time to myself (haha yeah right!).
Refrigerate Your Pump Parts
I’m not kidding about all of those bottles. You really will start to hate them, so get creative and get around all of that.
You can take your pump parts and put them in a clean container and stick them in the fridge in between pumping sessions. Then just wash everything at the end of the day.
TOTAL GAME CHANGER!
If your baby is very young (like less than a month) or has any health problems, then I would hold off on doing this just to be on the safe side.
Being able to only wash your parts once a day though is a huge life saver for the early days of pumping.
This is also a great trick for when/if you go back to work.
Related Post: The Ultimate Guide to Pumping at Work (link: https://www.mamaonparade.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-pumping-at-work/)
Be Nice to Your Nips
Pumping is tough, I really wasn’t kidding about that. Your boobs are not going to know what is going on. So be nice to them.
Applying a little coconut oil to your nipples before pumping will make a big difference.
You’ll hear some people suggest lanolin for sore nipples, and yes, that can help relieve some of the pain, but lanolin is sticky. All it is going to do for an exclusive pumper is get stuck in those plastic flanges and pull at your boobs.
Lanolin is for nursing mamas, coconut oil is for pumping mamas. And don’t worry, the milk is totally safe for baby.
Drink Your Water
I cannot stress enough the importance of water while breastfeeding.
Breast milk is 88% water. If you aren’t drinking enough then your supply is going to suffer. You’re also more likely to develop clogs that can lead to the horror that is mastitis.
Don’t do that to yourself, just drink the water.
I like to aim for a gallon a day. I just fill up a gallon sized pitcher and refill my cup from it throughout the day. It’s easier for me to remember if I have a visual reminder. I also didn’t want to have to try to remember water ounces when I was busy with milk ounces.
Forget the Numbers
As an exclusive pumping mom, it is very easy to get wrapped up in all of the numbers. From how much you’re producing a day to how much your baby is drinking, and even how much your stashing in your freezer and how long it will take to reach your goal. It’s enough to drive anyone crazy.
The best thing that you can do for yourself is to forget the numbers all together.
Keep track if it makes you feel better, but don’t get so wrapped up in the numbers that you forget about what’s really important. Your baby.
Your baby is the reason that you’re going through all of this. He is the reason that you’re even reading this post. Don’t miss out on his early months because you’re stressing out about your milk supply.
Enjoy those extra baby snuggles while you can. They won’t last forever.
If you have decided to make the switch to exclusive pumping, then I have a few posts that may help you out.
How to Exclusively Pump from the Beginning (link: https://www.mamaonparade.com/how-to-exclusively-pump-from-the-beginning/)
Tips to Survive Exclusively Pumping (link: https://www.mamaonparade.com/exclusive-pumping-tips/)
Pumping Hacks for Exclusive Pumping Moms (link: https://www.mamaonparade.com/pumping-hacks/)
Though exclusive pumping isn’t easy, it is absolutely worth it if you want to provide breast milk for your child and are unable to do it the old fashioned way.
No matter what, pumping is still breastfeeding; don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. And just remember, love is not measured in ounces.
Until next time!
Meet Mallory Herrera, Guest Blogger
I’m a mama that loves wine, coffee, and baby snuggles trying to make it through this crazy adventure called motherhood. I started Mama on Parade in order to help other new moms navigate their own motherhood adventure. Being a mom is hard and there is too much mom-shaming and mom-guilt out there. So if I can help just one woman make her journey easier, then I will call my blog a success.
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