Rules of Exclusive Pumping

Exclusive pumping is pumping for stimulation and bottle feeding without any nursing (direct latching).

Pumping for stimulation, bottle feeding, no nursing

Be clear about goals vs intentions. Set monthly goals. One year is an awesome long term goal, but I challenge you to celebrate each and every month. Find a record keeping system to track your pump frequency, volume of output, and freezer stash. Pump Log is a great app for this.

Focus on daily total pumping sessions, not intervals between pumping sessions. It is more important for you to get in eight or more pumps in 24 hours than for you to evenly space them every two to three hours. That said, ideally you shouldn’t go longer than five to six hours overnight without pumping until six weeks postpartum or later.

Be willing to improvise and have a lot of tools at your disposal. Hand pump (I like Medela Hand Pump), Haakaa, Hands Free Pumping Bra (Simple Wishes or Kindred Bravery), a car adaptor to pump while driving or while someone else is driving. A nursing cover so you can pump in public or in front of others. You will become the expert on expressing milk from your own breasts.

Know what to do if your supply decreases. Accept the fact that it may. Don’t freak out about it, just ride the wave, pay attention and make efforts to boost your supply as soon as you see your supply decreasing.

Know your total daily output (TDO). Focus a little less on how much you get from each individual pumping session and a little more on how much you get from all of your pumps combined. Once you know this number and find it is fairly consistent within an ounce or two, you can start to mess with how many pumps you have to get in each day.

Consider experimenting with decreasing the number of times you pump per day (PPD). Once you feel confident about your daily total output, drop one pump in a 24 hour period. For three to five days, watch your total daily output closely to make sure it doesn’t decrease. For some, they will put out the same daily total with one fewer pump. For others, their supply dips. If it dips, put that pump back in. If it stays the same, keep that pump out. When you are feeling brave again, drop another pump. At some point you will hit a threshold where you can’t decrease your total daily pumps any further without affecting your milk supply.

Wean slowly and carefully. Weaning from exclusive pumping seems simple, and in a lot of ways it is: drop one pump every 3-7 days. Hormonally and emotionally, weaning in this way can be intense for your body and mind. Reach out for support during this time!