Exclusive Pumping – What is it and how to do it right

exclusive-pumpingAt times, there are situations where a mother is not able to nurse her baby directly and has made the decision to exclusively pump instead of breastfeeding directly from the breast.

This decision is often not made lightly and may be necessary when a baby has a difficult time latching or for other health reasons (premature, etc).

Some mothers who exclusively pump may feel as if they are somewhere in the middle of breastfeeding and formula feeding moms. At the doctor, moms are typically asked “bottle or breast?” meaning “breastfed or formula fed?”

At times, some health care providers or even family and friends may be discouraging about a mother’s choice to exclusively pump. Saying it won’t work, the mother won’t be able to keep up, that formula is easier, etc.

Exclusively pumping takes a lot of dedication, especially in the beginning.

Mothers who make this choice are amazingly strong and determined women who have made a wonderful choice for their babies.

This page has a lot of information and tips on exclusively breast pumping.

It is important to remember each situation is unique and these tips apply to a healthy full-term baby. Always follow your doctor’s advice.

Exclusive Pumping – What is it and how to do it right

 How Often to Pump

First and foremost, you need to have a high-quality breast pump. Don’t skimp here! It makes a difference in how much you will pump!

It is important to remember that newborns nurse 8-12 times every day, around the clock.

In order to be successful at exclusive pumping, you need to mimic the same schedule. Ensure you are pumping every 2-3 hours for at least 20 minutes each pumping session. This includes during the night (as hard as that sounds)!

Often times you can start dropping night sessions once your supply is more established (after 3+months).

Typically adding an extra pumping session or two during the daytime will be sufficient to replace the nighttime feedings that baby will require. But it is recommend to wait until your baby is a little older and do it gradually as you want to ensure you are pumping enough milk.

The general rule, however, is to pump at least once for each feeding that baby takes.

 How Long to Pump

It is recommended that you pump at least 15-20 minutes each session. Even if you are not getting milk the entire time.

Remember, making breast milk is based on supply and demand.

The more you are emptying your breasts, the more your body will produce. So do not be discouraged if you don’t seem to be pumping enough at each session. Keep at it and your body will get the memo.

How Much Milk Will my Baby Need

It may surprise you to know that breastfed babies take in less milk per bottle than formula fed babies.

This is because breast milk is much better utilized by the body with very little waste, so less is needed. The average breastfed baby takes in 25 oz in a 24 hour period during 1-6 moths of age.

You will get a feel for how much to give per bottle fairly quickly but here are some helpful suggestions:

Birth – 2 Months: 2-5 oz per feeding

2 Months – 4 Months: 4-6 oz per feeding

4 Months – 6 Months: 5-7 oz per feeding

Another way to calculate how many ounces is by weight. Typically a baby needs 2.5 ounces per pound daily.

So a 10-pound baby would need 25 ounces in a 24 hour period of time. If he eats 8 times a day, then each bottle would need to be just over 3 ounces, so round up to 3.5 ounces.

Bottle Feeding Baby

exclusively-pumpingFor young babies, it is best to select a bottle with a slow flow nipple.

Most bottle brands give the option for you to purchase different flow nipples (newborn, 3+ months, 6+ months, etc).

It is important to remember that it is possible to overfeed a baby using a bottle.

The reason being that the baby cannot control the flow of the milk like they can with the breast. They will continue swallowing which can lead to frequent spitting up.

Another thing to remember about feeding a baby breast milk is that it is digested in about 90 minutes. You should feed your baby on demand and just like a nursing baby would be fed. You should expect the be feeding your baby every 1.5-3 hours.

Baby may take 20 or more minutes to finish a bottle. Gently burping baby midway through or at the end of the feed is recommended.

Remember it is not a good idea to prop a bottle up to fed your baby.

Tips for Maintaining Your Breast Milk Supply

  • Pump Often – Just like with nursing, it is best to pump as often as you can. The more you tell your body you need, the more breast milk it will produce.
  • Don’t Skip Feedings – That signals your body to produce less milk and your supply will suffer.
  • how-to-keep-breast-milk-supply-upEat a Balanced Diet  – Though you don’t need to get into counting calories, but if you are keeping a record, studies have shown that most women who took in 1800-2200 calories per day maintained an abundant milk supply. Mothers with 1500-1800 calorie intake while breastfeeding, may have supply issues as well as mothers who have a sudden drop in calories like with dieting. But on average 300-500 is the number of extra calories needed while breastfeeding.
  • stress-breastfeedingReduce Stress – Stress can certainly diminish your supply and cause a host of other issues within your body. Try to find ways to reduce your stress. Staying active is a great stress reducer! Look for Mommy and Me workout groups in your area for example. Great way to lower stress, improve your self-esteem, meet new mommy friends and spend time with your little Peanut!
  • Natural Remedies – There are many remedies on the market today that can help boost your milk supply. For example, eat oatmeal every day or drink a few cups a day of Mother’s Milk Tea. Check out our Product Reviews & Accessories Page  for an extensive list of remedies and where you can get them. The remedies are a great example of how to increase breast milk supply naturally. So check them out!

Exclusive Pumping Tips

  • Hands-Free Pumping Bra! – This is a must for any pumping mom. The bra holds the pump in place freeing up your hands so you can do other things! Amazing!
  • Feed baby while you pump – If possible, save time by feeding your baby while you pump. Using a hands-free pumping bra, you can get set up with the pump and lay baby propped up on a Boppy Pillow or other nursing pillow and give the baby a bottle while you pump.
  • Refrigerate Your Pump Parts – During the day, instead of washing your pump parts after each pumping session, simply put the parts in a ziplock bag and put them in the refrigerator. They will be perfectly fine to use! You should wash the parts once a day, however.
  • Save on Freezer bags –  You can save money on freezer bags by freezing milk in an ice cube tray (makes 1-ounce cubes) and putting cubes in a gallon ziplock freezer bag. Or just use small sized freezer ziplock bags. You can also pump and store fresh breast milk in the refrigerator in pumping bottles and never freeze it (see Breast Milk Storage Guidelines).
  • If you need an extra boost – Try power pumping sessions- pump for 10 minutes, rest 10 minutes, pump 10 minutes, etc for an hour or two. This can help boost your supply. It mimics cluster feeding by your baby.
  • If you have sore nipples – You can use nipple cream or a little bit of olive oil on the flanges to reduce friction.
  • Most Important – Don’t give up! – Exclusively pumping can be a lot of work, especially at first. Hang in there and take it one feeding at a time!

Have any tips or cheats for exclusive pumping? Leave your comments here!

Also See – 


Read: Low Milk Supply? Find Out How you can Increase Your Milk Production.


Read: Need a Sample Breast Pumping Schedule? Click Here to Read Ours!


Read: How Much Milk Does a Breastfed Baby Need? Find Out!



  1. Kathy Casanova says:

    When bottle feeding using breast milk, do you recommend paced feeding?

    • Heather Grace says:

      Hi, Kathy!

      Yes! I am a huge supporter of paced bottle feeding! It can help the transition from bottle to breast be much easier and more natural for a breastfed baby. There are a lot of benefits to practicing paced feeding. One of my favorite articles that contains a ton of info and tips on how to pace feed is over on KellyMom. You can read that here if you want more info! I hope this helps!

    • Lindsey says:

      I’m an exclusive pumper and my husband and I just created the first Android app for exclusive pumpers called MilkStack. I thought it may be of interest to you and your readers.

      • Heather Grace says:

        Hi, Lindsey
        I would love to hear more about your app! You can email me at HeatherGrace(at)ThePumpingMommy.com. I hope to hear from you soon! Take Care.

      • Holly Glover says:

        In the whole pumping process the most important thing is about to choosing the quality product breastfeeding starter set. After that the important thing is how much milk will the baby need and how long to pump to get the amount of milk for the baby. Maximum pump 20 minutes for feeding your 1-6 years old baby.