Welcome to the world of exclusive pumping (EP), a remarkable breastfeeding journey filled with both challenges and rewards. Whether you’ve embraced exclusive pumping by choice, necessity, or unique circumstances, this blog post is here to provide the support and guidance you need. In this article, we’ll explore valuable tips and techniques that can help you optimize your exclusive pumping experience and maintain a healthy milk supply for your little one.

Basics for success

1.Have the right pump for your needs.

An ideal pump will be a new double-electric (pump both breasts at the same time) closed system pump with a strong motor. If mobility is important to you, looking for a pump with a battery option will be key. You might also prefer to have your main pump and a smaller, more portable pump for occasional use when you are out and about. 

2.Routine, routine, routine.

Creating a consistent pumping routine is crucial for maintaining milk supply and ensuring efficiency. Consider the following guidelines: Aim to pump at least 8 to 10 times within a 24-hour period, especially during the early weeks when establishing milk supply. As your baby gets older and your supply becomes established, many pumpers can reduce the number of daily sessions. Set a daily schedule and stick to it! Set alarms on your phone and have a plan. Also, have a routine for washing parts and storing milk. The less you have to think about it, the easier it will become a part of your daily life.

3.Make sure pumping is pain-free.

Comfort is critical to ensuring an enjoyable pumping experience, maximizing milk output, and reducing the risk of nipple pain or damage. The flanges that come with pumps are typically not the best fit for most pumpers. Finding the right flange type and fit for a comfortable experience are so crucial to your pumping journey. 

4.Eat, drink, sleep, pump. Repeat.

Maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids to support your milk production, as nourishing your body is essential for a robust milk supply. Remember to consume enough calories to meet your energy needs, and consider incorporating lactation-supporting foods like oats, flaxseeds, and leafy greens into your daily meals and snacks. Prioritizing proper nutrition, hydration, and sufficient rest will help optimize your pumping output and overall well-being

5.Have a support system in place.

Connect with other exclusive pumpers through support groups or online communities. Sharing experiences, tips, and challenges with fellow moms can provide valuable emotional support and practical advice. Additionally, involving your partner or a close family member in the pumping routine can provide extra help and support.

Tips to make pumping more manageable and efficient

Invest in a pumping bra.

Getting a hands-free pumping bra can be a game-changer, and it allows you to relax during pumping sessions and frees up your hands for tasks like breast massage, working on your laptop, or caring for your baby or other children.

Get extra pump parts.

Washing pump parts after each session can be tiresome. Having additional sets of flanges, duckbills, and backflow/diaphragms can reduce the number of times you need to wash parts daily. Check with your Durable Medical Equipment (DME) company or insurance provider, as they may cover monthly replacement parts.

Pump into your baby’s bottles or breast milk bags.

Instead of using the bottles that come with your pump, consider using adapters to pump directly into the bottles your baby drinks from or breast milk storage bags. Adapters are available for both standard and wide-mouth bottles. Pumping directly into the bottle you will use saves you time and reduces the number of bottles you need to wash.

Set up a pumping station or rolling cart.

Designate a specific area in your home where you can keep all your pumping essentials organized and easily accessible. Consider using a small table, a shelf, or a rolling cart to hold your breast pump, pumping accessories, spare parts, storage bags or bottles, cleaning supplies, and any other items you use during pumping sessions. Having everything in one place eliminates the need to search for items and creates an efficient and convenient space for your pumping needs.

Have a pumping bag and supplies for on-the-go.

Exclusive pumping will never be sustainable if you can’t pump easily outside your house. Choose a spacious bag that comfortably fits your breast pump, accessories, and other essentials like nursing pads, spare clothing, and a cooler for storing expressed milk. Keep your pumping bag stocked with extra pump parts, storage bags or bottles, wipes for cleaning, and a portable power source if needed. This way, you’ll be prepared for pumping sessions outside the home, whether at work, running errands, or during travels.

Experiment with pump settings.

Explore different pump settings, such as suction strength and cycling speed, to find what works best. Some moms respond better to slower, deeper suction, while others prefer faster cycles. Experimenting with pump settings can help you find the sweet spot for optimal milk extraction.

Use your hands.

Incorporating hand expression while pumping can significantly increase milk yield and reduce pumping time. Research by Dr. Jane Morton reveals that mothers who use their hands during pumping produce 48% more milk than those who solely rely on the pump. Another study found that milk expressed with hands during pumping contains twice as much fat. Combining hand expression with pumping, you can effectively and efficiently drain your breasts, making the pumping experience less time-consuming.

Remember, each exclusive pumping journey is unique, and you must find the strategies and techniques that work best for you. With perseverance, support, and self-care, you can successfully navigate the world of exclusive pumping and provide your baby with the valuable benefits of breast milk.