What Does it Mean to Exclusively Pump?

Moms who exclusively pump only use a breast pump and a bottle to feed their babies. If you choose to exclusively pump, you would not be nursing your baby at all. Some moms who need to pump their breast milk at work only do so when they are away from their child, but moms who exclusively pump use breast pumps full time. Even if you don’t decide to exclusively pump, learning how to express your breast milk can still come in handy when you need to take a break from breastfeeding.

What Are Some Reasons to Exclusively Pump?

Some moms pump exclusively. Here are a few common reasons why moms choose to exclusively pump their breast milk:1

  • Physical separation from a child: A lot of different factors can result in a child being separated from their mother. For instance, some babies may have to spend time in the NICU after birth, and a mother might have to return to work or school after giving birth. In these cases, exclusively pumping may be the way to feed your baby.
  • Trouble with breastfeeding or latching: Breastfeeding issues can make it difficult to properly feed your child. If your baby experiences difficulty with latching on or if nursing becomes too painful, you may choose pumping exclusively. If you are experiencing difficulty latching or pain with breastfeeding, check in with a lactation consultant. They may be able to help with breastfeeding, and you may be able to do a combination of pumping and breastfeeding.
  • Preferring to exclusively pump: You don’t need a specific reason to exclusively pump. If you prefer to exclusively pump and feel that it’s the best choice for you and your baby, that’s your decision!

How to Create a Pumping Schedule

Pumping takes a lot of time and effort, which is why it’s important to create a pumping schedule. A detailed pumping schedule can help maintain breast milk production and make the whole process less stressful. Here are some tips on creating your own pumping schedule:

Make Sure You Have All the Right Equipment

Some moms like using a manual pump, while other moms prefer electric ones. Your preferences with expressing milk may change over time, so it’s not necessary to buy a breast pump before the baby is born.2 Once you’ve determined what type of breast pump works best for you, it’s time to start figuring out what you will use to clean your pump and where to store your milk. Reusable pump kits need to be cleaned, rinsed, and dried between use to avoid contamination.1 If you need to pump at work, make sure you have a fridge or a box with an ice pack to keep the milk cold.3

Determine When You’ll Be Pumping

Create a plan to determine when you’ll pump during the day. Most moms need to pump at least eight times a day and at least once during the night until a good milk supply is established.1 Follow your pumping schedule accordingly, even when you have enough milk, to maintain milk production and avoid blocked ducts.1 It may be helpful to set a few reminders for your designated pumping times to ensure consistency.

Keep Track of Your Baby’s Feeding Patterns

As your baby gets older, their feeding schedules will become more spaced out. Your pumping schedule should be adjusted as your baby’s feeding times change. Align your pumping times to when your baby needs to eat to keep up with their eating habits. If you find that your baby is currently eating every three hours, try to pump every three hours as well.

Remember to Take Care of Yourself

A healthy you equals a healthy milk supply. Be sure to maintain your nutrition while breastfeeding by staying hydrated and eating plenty of nutritious foods as you pump. Set aside some time each day to prepare a healthy meal so you can provide the necessary nutrients for your baby.