Exclusively Pumping…what a journey it has been!
Let me tell you this…exclusively pumping is the
best worst of both breastfeeding and bottle feeding. It’s challenging and (for me) it’s twice the amount of work, but it’s worth it to me.
So first of all…why would someone exclusively pump? I have friends who pump simply because they don’t want to breastfeed and find it easier to pump. I have friends who pump because they are working Mom’s and switching back and forth is just too much. I have friends who pump because of medical issues, either on the babies part or the Mom’s part.
Pumping is a personal decision and one that should not be taken lightly or disrespected. I have not always received support in my pumping journey and several people have commented to me, “well, just get him to latch back on…” in a duh tone of voice.
I am here to tell you that it is not that easy and I have tried, to no avail. I am at at total loss as to how to get my baby to breastfeed, so I’m going to do the next best thing: pump my milk and give it to him in a bottle.
The benefits of exclusively pumping are quite obvious: first and foremost, the baby is still getting breast milk, even while not technically breastfeeding. When EPing, Kiah doesn’t have any problems taking a bottle, so it can be easy to have someone else feed the baby or to just grab and go with the milk I have in the fridge. As an EPing Mom, I don’t always have to worry about breastfeeding friendly clothes or taking my breastfeeding gear with me wherever I go.
There are, however, several downsides to EPing. First…Kiah doesn’t get to breastfeed (duh). Breastfeeding in itself is so much more than feeding him necessary nutrients. It’s also a bonding time between him and I, and through the act of breastfeeding, some extremely beneficial postpartum hormones are released. Not only that, but by latching onto me, Kiah would transfer his saliva to the my body, and that in turn causes my milk to produce exactly what he needs at that time. All of this can be missed out while exclusively pumping (although it doesn’t have to be!). Another downside to EPing is the endless amounts of bottle and pump part washing I do. The pump parts and bottles are supposed to be washed after every single use. On top of all that, as an exclusively pumping stay at home Mom, every feeding takes twice as long. I have to pump, then feed the baby as opposed to just feeding the baby or just pumping while someone else feeds the baby. It takes me forrrrever to leave the house because pumping and then feeding Kiah is about an hour ordeal in and of itself (and that doesn’t include getting toddler tornado Tera ready!).
Getting into pumping was extremely confusing and exhausting. I didn’t even know where to begin or what I needed or how to go about it. I didn’t know how to keep up my supply or how to store the milk. So here are some tips and tricks that I have learned during my 5 months of exclusively pumping:
How often should I pump?
I found this schedule to be spot-on for me so far:
Over the course of the day, I usually pump around 40 ounces. At the beginning, Kiah was only eating 20, so I was saving up a lot of milk! Now, he is eating closer to 35 ounces so I’m not storing quite as much.
When Should I Start Pumping?
If you are pumping occasionally, it is recommended that you wait until 12 weeks when your supply is established.
However, if you are exclusively pumping that means the baby is not getting milk any other way, and it’s ok to start pumping straight away. I started at three weeks post partum.
What Is Your Pumping Routine?
Since I am pumping 6-8 times a day, that means I am dirtying a lot of bottles! After pumping, I make a pile of dirty pump parts and when I am running out of bottles, I wash all the parts. Confession: I actually don’t wash the pump parts every time. Since breastmilk has natural antibodies, you can place the pump parts in a ziploc bag and put them in the fridge, then reuse them throughout the day!
How do you store your milk?
After pumping, I put the bottle of expressed milk in the fridge, lined up a row from oldest to newest. When Kiah gets hungry, I pull out the “oldest” bottle from the fridge and warm up his bottle from that milk. When most of my bottles are in the fridge and I don’t have enough to pump into, I move the fridge milk into milk bags and put them in the freezer.
The only time I feed Kiah directly what I’ve pumped is in the middle of the night and when we are out and about.
What kind of equipment do you use?
As with most things, I try to keep it simple when it comes to equipment. I have a Madela pump, which I like well enough, but I would really like to try out the Spectra pump. I have 8 Madela bottles to pump into and 3 Dr. Brown bottles that Kiah eats from (life hack: dr. browns bottles fit perfectly onto madela pumps!). Lots of people recommend a hands-free pumping bra, too!
What are your tips and tricks for exclusively pumping?
As far as tips and tricks…it’s pretty challenging to be hooked up to a pump 6-10 times day while trying to keep the infant satisfied, the toddler entertained and me relaxed enough to have any milk output!
My best piece of advice is to just give it time and you will eventually settle into a new normal with pumping included. I’m usually sitting on my bed pumping with Kiah right next to me on one side while I read a book to Tera who is sitting on the other side.
Please remember…not everyone’s body responds to a pump, so pumping should not be the only indication of how much milk you are making. Pumping works for some, but not for others.
Exclusively pumping Moms…how are you doing? What were your favorite tricks to make it through?
Don’t forget to check out the other posts in this series: