Exclusive Pumping: Not Just for Going Back to Work

Mothers can choose to pump milk and feed the baby via bottle with expressed breast milk. We call this method “exclusive pumping.” Pumping is a great option to still be able to provide breastmilk without directly putting baby to breast. It is not an all of nothing with providing breastmilk to your baby. Just because a baby cannot feed at the breast or you chose to not have baby feed at the breast, does not mean that you cannot still provide them with all the benefits of breastmilk!

Frequency of Pumping

With exclusive pumping, mothers must remove milk around the clock, like they would do if baby was feeding directly at the breast for their feedings. When you start pumping, we recommend removing milk at least 8-12 times per day to help establish supply. Remember newborn babies eat very frequently and we need to empty the breasts just as a baby would. The body only knows to make more milk by removing the milk from the breasts. It is supply and demand. Ideally, we want to be pumping anytime that baby is doing a feeding usually around every 2-3 hours during the day and night to help establish a good supply.

Nighttime Pumping

From birth to around 12 weeks we recommend pumping every 2-3 hours around the clock. That includes nighttime hours as well. Pumping at night is essential for maintaining a good supply. Some moms believe that if they chose to pump, they do not have to pump at night. This is simply not the case. At night, your body’s prolactin levels are at their highest. So, when we remove milk at night, the message to your body to boost supply even stronger. It can be difficult for some moms to wake at night to pump especially after baby is sleeping through the night. Setting alarms for pump sessions can be very helpful for some mothers.

Tips for Being a Successful Exclusive Pumper

Some of the most important things to consider if you chose to exclusively pump is having a good pump. Everyone responds differently to different pumps but ideally, we want a hospital grade pump to start with. Pumps are a medical device that is often covered by your medical insurance. Talk with your IBCLC about your pump options to help find the best one for you. Another important thing when choosing to pump exclusively is to make sure that you are fitted properly for flanges. Flanges come in lots of shapes, sizes, materials, and brands. It is essential for your pumping journey that you are using the proper flanges for your body and your needs. All breasts and nipples are different and have specific needs! Your IBCLC can help you determine sizing and the correct types of flanges to use.

If exclusive pumping is something that you think may be a good fit for you, speak with your IBCLC and they can help you get started and come up with a good plan that will work for you and your baby!

Sample Pumping Schedule

6 AM2 PM12 AM
8 AM4 PM2 AM
10 AM6 PMBack to 6 AM
12 PM9 PM

Britni Gunter