Making Exclusive Pumping a Little Easier

exclusively pumpingDue to my daughter having a poor suck-swallow-breathe reflex, as well as a short NICU stay, I ended up exclusively pumping. I tried for 5 days to feed from the breast. At the end of 5 days, I was tired of crying about being unsuccessful at breastfeeding. This was also the day my daughter returned to the NICU. I was having success pumping, unlike breastfeeding, so I decided to switch to exclusively pumping.

I quickly discovered that exclusively pumping is very lonely. It seemed as though in the whole breastfeeding versus formula feeding debate, I fell somewhere in the middle. The lack of camaraderie and the amount of time required to exclusively pump made it very difficult to stick with it. Here are a few tricks and tips I learned along the way to make exclusively pumping a little easier.

1.     Rent a hospital-grade pump. Due to the way my insurance provided pumps, I ended up renting a hospital-grade pump for two months after my daughter was born. My output was much higher with the same pumping time when I used the hospital-grade pump compared to what I was able to get with the pump I received from my insurance.

2.     Refrigerate pump parts/wash and steam sanitize once a day. Although I did not do this at first, I began to only wash and sanitize my parts once a day after a month or so. The thinking is milk is good in the fridge for up to 48 hours, so leaving some milk in the pump parts for 24 hours is ok. I would pack my parts in a gallon freezer bag, place it in the fridge, and would wash and sanitize them once a day.

3.     Pump every 2-3 hours. Do not go over 4 hours. I thought of pumping as a substitute for breastfeeding and stuck as close to the suggested feeding schedule for newborns as possible. After every feed, I would pump so that I would have milk for the next feeding. After a few days, I was able to get ahead but still pumped frequently as to establish my supply.

4.     Enlist the help of others.  I would have not been able to exclusively pump without my husband’s support. He helped wash bottles and pump parts as well as held and entertained my daughter while I was pumping. He also sometimes sat with me and kept me company while I was pumping. He was just as excited as I was the first time I pumped an ounce in one pumping session. Having him cheer me on was a great morale booster!

5.     Join online pumping communities. I learned so much through online community about pumping schedules, saving time, establishing a supply, and gained other moms to support me at 2 am, when I was hooked up to a pump again and feeling like quitting. Exclusively pumping felt a little less lonely when I had a place to go to for support.

Although it was difficult for me to do, and I still sometimes cringe at the thought of pumping, I am glad I was able to make exclusively pumping work for us.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to an energetic, spirited toddler and a happy, easy going baby from Denver, Colorado. She enjoys running, hiking, and cooking with her two girls.

Tags: bottle feeding, breast pump, Breastfeeding, exclusive pumping, hospital-grade pump, online community

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