3.19.2015

Exclusively Pumping


First off...sorry to those who have absolutely ZERO interest in nursing / pumping. You might just want to skip this post today! I had some questions about my experience with exclusively pumping so if you are one of those wondering - this post is for you!

Exclusively pumping isn't for everyone, but since I was returning to work I knew I wanted to go this route and start pumping early on. I wanted to get the hang of it, have some milk stored in our freezer for when I went back to work, and I also wanted Billy to be able to help with feedings a couple weeks after Cam was born. 

All of the advice I was given and am going to share came from a lactation consultant I worked with at the hospital, so this is just my personal experience and what she recommended to me. I felt CLUELESS without her and Steph, who also exclusively pumps! Anyway, I started pumping a few weeks after Camden was born. I wanted to increase my supply and have Billy give him a bottle during one of the night feedings. At first, two times a day I would pump 30 minutes after I nursed for 15-20 minutes. I wouldn't get a lot of milk at all, but it told my body to produce more milk. This was A LOT of work and took so much time, but by sticking with it I slowly created a freezer stash and increased my supply. We started giving Camden one bottle per day (in the middle of the night) to ease him into the transition, which he took just fine.

From there, I just kept pumping after nursing and once I had 3-4 bottles stored in our fridge (to have just in case and to start me off in a good place, plus my freezer stash) we slowly increased the amount of bottles we gave him per day until all of his feedings were bottles. I would pump after I fed him every 3 hours, or if I timed it right I could pump right before he ate if he was napping. He transitioned really well and never seemed to "miss" nursing, although I did at times! Pumping is so much more work (the constant cleaning of parts mainly) and many worry about losing that bond that you have with your baby when nursing, but I still felt a bond with him when feeding him bottles and I felt a lot less stressed. 

Right now my pumping schedule looks a little like this: 7am, 10am, 1pm, 5pm, 10pm, 230-3am. I plan to drop the middle of the night session once I hit 12 weeks because that's when I heard your supply won't decrease by cutting it out. It also took me a bit to be able to have these sessions spaced out to 4-5 hours. At first I was pumping every 3 hours on the dot to keep my supply up, but now I can sometimes go 4-5 hours, if need be, without my supply taking a dip. 

It can be difficult sometimes to exclusively pump, and in the beginning I literally questioned HOW it was even possible! This is my routine: I warm Camden's bottle right before he's due for a feeding, feed him, then pump right after (or within 30 minutes or so). Obviously this can be really tricky if he is fussy and I can't get him to rest on his own for 15-20 minutes while I pump, but as time went on and he got older it got much easier.  Sticking with it takes a lot of dedication and is hard but WORTH IT. Besides, I have this sweet face to motivate me every single day!


I highly recommend investing in a hands free pumping bra because there were a few times I had to literally hold Cam on my lap while pumping. Nowadays I use it at least 2-3 times per day so that I can work on the computer, entertain Cam, blow dry my hair (true story), etc. Now that he's a little older and can sit on his own without needing my attention so much, I will just put him in his swing or bouncy seat while I pump. Even though exclusively pumping is difficult, it has benefits too like being able to have other people feed him and I know exactly how much milk he is getting and drinking.

For the times I'm at work (I am working part time now and will be home 2 days a week with him), I plan to pump once in the morning when I get there, at lunch, and before heading home for the day. I'm SO looking forward to hitting the 12 week mark so I can drop that middle of the night session!

A BIG TIP that I'm so glad I heard about from the beginning: So that you don't have to wash your pump parts after every use just rinse them with warm water, place in a gallon zip-lock bag, then store them in the fridge. You can store them like this all day and then at night give them a good thorough cleaning and replace with a new bag! Genius!

Other things you can do to increase your supply that really work (I did all of these!): Continue pumping for 5 minutes after your milk flow stops, drink Gatorade and Mothers Milk Tea every single day, eat oatmeal (not instant), and look into taking Fenugreek!

*I use the Medela Pump in Style and I like it a lot (especially since insurance covered it!), but if I had to go back I would probably pay extra to get the Medela Freestyle because it's smaller and portable! I've also heard great things about renting hospital grade pumps from Babies R Us, but never ended up going that route.

*Another option when making the switch to exclusively pumping / being worried about going back to work and needing to start a supply would be to for one full day give your baby formula (IF you are okay with that obviously) after you've introduced him to bottles so that every time you pump, which would you want to do each time he eats, that milk you would be able to store.

*Lastly, if you ever question your supply or need help with pumping, I strongly recommend calling your hospital and making an appointment with the lactation consultants. A lot of insurance companies will cover up to 6 visits with them and it's incredibly helpful!

I feel like I'm missing some key things here and that this post is all over the place, so if I left out anything or you have any other questions-feel free to send me an email!

21 comments :

  1. I too exclusively pumped at about the 2 month mark...My son just needed to eat and eat so doing bottles was so much easier for me. I successfully pumped for about 5-6 months and then I gradually stopped for a wedding I was going to be in.. I had enough milk saved that he made it to around 9-10 months with just breast milk. It is a lot of work but its so nice when you can cut out the number of pumps. I prob could have gone longer without the wedding I was in.. Eventually I would just pump before I went to work, once in the am and once in the afternoon at work and then I would after work and before bed. Freezer bags were awesome for at work too for all my pump parts. Good luck! You can do it!

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    1. That's so awesome! It's such hard work it really is. Good for you! I hope to make it to the 6 month mark then start using my freezer stash :)

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  2. Good for you, momma! I considered EP at one point because my nipples were in such bad shape, but I ended up sticking with it because I was afraid I didn't have the dedication to EP. But it has to be nice to have other people give him a bottle in the MOTN!

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  3. My babe is 12 weeks, and I've been EP'ing for about 8, I think. I think the hardest thing is the time commitment. I cut my MOTN pump a lot sooner (not long after she started sleeping through the night around 6 weeks), and I haven't really seen a drop in supply. It just makes my first morning pump take a while longer, but it's my largest output pump of the day. I currently pump 6 times a day -- 3 times at home and 3 times at work. I'm hoping to drop one after a couple more weeks, but it scares me :)

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    1. I agree! And sounds like you have it all down...I might be ok with dropping it now but it makes me nervous too!

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  4. Oh girl you are a trooper! P is 7 months tomorrow and I nurse and pump still for her. I only pump twice a day (while at work) and all other times I nurse her. Those TWO times annoy me haha kudos for not only doing ti that often but in the middle of the night! You brave!! It's never easy whatever way you choose just as long as mama and baby are happy! Just out of curiosity how come you don't nurse when you're with him? Just easier to bottle feed? No judgement just pure curiosity!

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  5. I'm local here in Columbus and am curious which supplier you got the Medela pump from. My insurance covers it, but would love to save time on calling a long list of suppliers to see who offers the Medela. Thank you!

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    1. I think it was called SunMEDMedical. Hope this helps!

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  6. Good for you mama! I only pump once a day and that gets annoying/sometimes I forget... major props to you for getting up in the middle of the night for it! Camden is one lucky boy!

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  7. Great post! I wish I would have known more about exclusively pumping when I had my son. Most people never really present that as an option. It was either breastfeed or formula. I had low milk supply and I ended up pumping and supplementing with formula after one month of nursing. I couldn't keep up with his hunger so I stopped pumping after I went back to work. I will definitely keep this all in mind for the next child. Great info!

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  8. I also recommend changing your membranes every 2-3 months. Your suction will decrease as they wear down so you will notice a difference when you change them! What brand of pumping bra do you use?

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    1. great tip!! I use the medela free expressions hands free bra!

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  9. Such a great post and everything you mentioned is exactly what I did and felt the first 2 months! It wasa game changer to drop that middle of the night pump! It's so much more tolerable now. I've started introducing Cam to formula now and have been able to store up a lot in the freezer for when I'm ready to ween off the pump next month. Totally worth all the hard work!

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  10. These are great tips! As a working mom who had to pump/freeze, it's so much work! You're doing great mama!

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  11. A great post my friend - I never ever managed to build my supply with pumping so I gave it up all too quickly! You are doing great! x

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  12. Coming back to this post because I'm starting to think about BFing and what I want to do. I'm seriously considering exclusively pumping. I know breastmilk is best for babies nutritionally, but for whatever reason, I just don't have any interest in BFing. Do you have any advice? Baby is 16 days (or less) away.

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  13. What a great post! I'm expecting my first child in June and really would love to exclusively pump. I really appreciate all your tips and will keep this on hand for reminders once baby is here. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  14. Love this post. You'd think with baby #3 I'd have this breastfeeding thing down! I'm not a huge fan of it to be honest so I might start pumping more. Do you take Fenugreek? I've read about it but haven't tried it yet.

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