mother pumping and feeding her baby breastmilk from a bottle

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Breastfeeding may mean one thing to most people. Usually, it implies a baby nursing at it’s mother’s breast. However, breastfeeding can also look entirely different.

Exclusively pumping is breastfeeding and an option most new moms are unaware of.

With that being said, in this article, you will be guided through this third breastfeeding option and and the important details on it.

In this Article:

"exclusively pumping: a third option" with a photo of mom and baby and breast pump

What is Exclusive Pumping?

First, let’s determine exactly what exclusively pumping is before going any further.

Exclusive pumping is a form of breastfeeding without the physical act of a baby nursing at the breast.

The act of nursing at the breast is the only difference between nursing and exclusive pumping. Otherwise, both options provide breast milk for the baby to feed on.

One way is mechanical and the other way is more natural, as in nature’s design.

Exclusively Pumping is Breastfeeding

The medical definition of breastfeeding is, “Feeding a child human breast milk.” (source)

This very plainly implies that no child-to-breast contact has to take place in order for it to be considered breastfeeding. So why is it then, that when new moms are told how to prepare for breastfeeding, exclusively pumping is excluded from the lesson plan?

Why is exclusively pumping generally not identified as breastfeeding?

The theory is still out on this question, but it is fair to say that there is still not a ton of public knowledge about exclusive pumping.

However, this does seem to be taking a turn toward being a more recognizable form of breastfeeding as more women with careers are continuing to breastfeed even while working full time.

Why would a woman choose to exclusively pump vs. exclusively nurse?

While we know that technically exclusive pumping is still breastfeeding, most women who find themselves EP-ing (exclusively pumping) do not go into this breastfeeding method voluntarily.

Reasons to Exclusively Pump

  • Poor breastfeeding latch leading to an unsuccessful nursing experience.
  • Baby is not gaining weight nursing at the breast due to latch issues, tongue tie or letdown preferences.
  • Inverted nipples
  • Thrush or other breast infections that make it too painful or dangerous to come into contact with baby’s mouth.

On the same hand, some women do choose the option of exclusively pumping over traditional nursing. Listed below are some reasons why they would do so.

  • The ability to have total control over a pumping schedule
  • Absolute knowledge of how much breast milk baby is feeding on per day.
  • Freedom to have other people feed baby other than only mom.

How to Perform Exclusive Pumping

Now that you know exactly what exclusively pumping is and why it exists, you should also know how to perform it. Think of exclusive pumping as a mechanical way to mimic a baby’s natural nursing habits.

You can begin the process of pumping right after your baby is born. Just as your baby would nurse, so should you pump.

This regimen ensures that you are establishing an adequate milk supply your baby can sustain himself on.

Further down, you’ll find a sample breastfeeding and pumping schedule as well an exclusive pumping schedule to help you plan your breast milk expression sessions.

Exclusive Pumping Essentials

Along with knowing the concept of being an exclusive pumper, just as important are knowing which supplies you should be working with.

Let’s talk about the best breast pump for exclusive pumping. What should you look for in a pump when using it daily and around the clock?

My recommendation is to use a hospital grade breast pump, like the Spectra S1 or S2. These pumps are both gentle, quiet and efficient. In fact, they tend to be favorites within the exclusive pumping community.

Another essential item is a hands-free nursing bra, like this one by Simple Wishes. This pumping bra securely hold your flanges so you can double pump and multi-task.

Pumping Schedule for Exclusive Pumping

What does a day of pumping look like for an exclusive pumper? Well, for the first few months, you can plan on pumping around the clock day and night.

An exclusive pumper could be pumping up to 12 times per day for at least 4 months postpartum or until baby starts sleeping through the night.

Check out this exclusive pumping schedule below.

Exclusively pumping schedule

Exclusively Pumping Tips

There is quite a learning curve associated with exclusive pumping. Unfortunately, God did not create us to have this as an innate skill, as it is primarily an artificial way to breastfeed.

However, as a former exclusive pumper, I can give you some beneficial pumping tips that will go a long way in helping any future exclusive pumper reading this article.

  1. Ensure you are fully emptying your breasts at every pumping session to avoid clogs and a loss in breast milk production.
  2. Change your pumping kit parts every few weeks to maintain suction and hygienic standards.
  3. Do not skip pumping sessions, especially during the first few months postpartum.

Also remember to be kind to yourself. This process is not always an easy one, but it is easy to get discouraged as things can feel daunting at times.

Reach out for support if you need to, find a Facebook group with other EP moms who understand what you are going through. Having a real support system who can empathize with what you are going through is essential to success as an exclusive pumper.

Conclusion

Exclusive pumping is breastfeeding and it is an option. It is still a means in which to provide your baby with breast milk. Albeit through a bottle, but the same nourishment nonetheless.

For some women, traditional breastfeeding isn’t as doable of an option as it is for others. Thankfully, exclusive pumping redeems this option for mothers who just want to feed their babies.

This was an enlightening and informative read, hopefully you found that to be true.

Come stop by loveourlittles.com to learn even more information about pumping.

mom breast pumping her milk instead of nursing

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This article was written by Elizabeth of Love Our Littles. Elizabeth provides fantastic resources for moms who want to know all about breastfeeding, pumping, and breast milk.

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