At 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.
Exclusive 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 sacrifice for their babies.
This page has a lot of information as well as exclusive breast pumping tips!
If you are new to pumping and want to learn the basics of pumping and how supply and demand works, click here to learn all about Pumping Basics before moving on!
Note: 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!
If you need some recommendations on good pumps, this list features some of the best for moms in all situations. I always recommend exclusively pumping moms stick to a double electric pump, however. The time it would take to manually pump or single pump would be really hard.
With that said, let’s talk about how often you will need to 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 recommended 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 your 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 months 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
For 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 is 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 feed your baby.
Tips for Maintaining Your Breast Milk Supply While Exclusively Pumping
1 – 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.
On the flip side, if you are not pumping often enough or for long enough, your body will not know to make more milk. It will only make what you demand of it. Exclusive pumping takes dedication and to successful, you need to stick to a strict pumping schedule!
2 – Don’t Skip Feedings
Skipping feedings is one of the worst things you can do when exclusively pumping.
Not only will it cause your breasts to become engorged and can lead to issues like clogged ducts and mastitis, frequently missing pumping sessions will lead to low supply issues.
Again, breastfeeding and pumping is all about supply and demand. By skipping out on sessions, you are telling your body that your baby no longer needs to be fed at that time and your supply will drop in response.
3 – Eat a Balanced Diet
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.
If you are looking to drop some baby weight, doing fad diets or eating low calorie is not the way to go. You can learn more about the best way to lose weight while breastfeeding, here.
4 – Reduce 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!
5 – 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.
Lactation Supplements are a popular way to increase your milk supply naturally. There are a ton on the market to choose from. I have personally had the best luck with “blends” which basically means it is a combination of herbs in one supplement.
MotherLove More Milk Special Blend has been my favorite.
6 – Power Pump
Try power pumping sessions- pump for 20 minutes, rest 10 minutes, pump 10 minutes, etc for an hour. This can help boost your supply. It mimics the way a breastfeeding baby would cluster feed and is a natural way to quickly increase your milk supply.
7 – More Tips for Increasing Your Milk Supply!
If you want more tips to help increase your milk supply, I give 20 proven supply boosting tips, here!
Exclusive Breast Pumping Tips
1 – Get a Hands-Free Pumping Bra
This is a must for any pumping mom! A pumping bra holds the pump flanges in place freeing up your hands so you can do other things while you pump.
There is nothing more annoying (or boring) than having to hold the flanges while you pump. I would have gone crazy without a good hands-free pumping bra!
If you need a hands-free pumping bra, you can check out my favorite, here! I also go over the difference in a pumping bra and a bustier pumping bra.
Here is a good video that shows how a pumping bra works and frees your hand. The bra featured in this video is the Simple Wishes Bustier, which is an amazing pumping bra!
2 – 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.
3 – Refrigerate Your Pump Parts
Save time! 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 need to wash and sterilize the parts once a day, however.
4 – 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. You will need to label the date on the bag as the oldest milk date, however.
You can also pump and store fresh breast milk in the refrigerator in pumping bottles and never freeze it. See an outline of proper Breast Milk Storage Guidelines, here
5 – If you have sore nipples
You can use nipple cream or a little bit of olive oil on the flanges to reduce friction.
Some pump brands, like Spectra, offer massage inserts to maximize comfort while pumping. If you have sensitive nipples or pumping is not comfortable for you, a pump like the Spectra S1 is a great option!
6 – 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!
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