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Exclusively Pumping - Why Does it Get Such a Bad Wrap?

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I've written a bit before about the troubles that I had trying to nurse Elnora when she was young. I've also written before about the fact that I'm an exclusive pumper. What I've not written about is my frustration with why so few women are even offered the idea of exclusively pumping as an alternative to nursing when they run into trouble.

Although Elnora nursed like a champ when she was first born, we ran into some troubles by the time we left the hospital. This is nothing unusual...it happens to pretty much everyone. In fact, one of the things that most upset me about the issue is that despite all the reading and research I did about breastfeeding and the enormous amount of preparation I did toward a natural childbirth, I never once ended up reading anything about just how hard nursing was. I mean seriously, nursing is darn near impossible! I don't say that to scare new mothers off, and I imagine that's why no one told me...but I think if I'd been prepared for just how hard it was, I might have had a better chance at making it.

Exclusively pumping came about partly by accident and partly by divine intervention. I'd had a friend that had exclusively pumped for her baby after having a c-section, so I knew it was a possibility. It all started when the resident ped decided that Nora was too jaundiced to leave the hospital unless I promised to supplement. (that's a rant for another day, but it's part of why I can't stand hospitals) Thankfully, because of the friend who pumped, I knew to at least insist that I would only supplement if I was supplementing with expressed milk. So, we went home with a breast pump and orders to make sure Nora got at least 1/2 ounce every two hours. (We also went home with a garbage bag full of free formula...you know...just in case...which is also a rant for another day.)

The first time I pumped, I got about 1/4 of an ounce, so we mixed it with a 1/4 of an ounce of formula. As it turns out, that's the last formula Nora ever had. I was able to pump enough from then on to give her whatever she needed. In fact, by the end of the first week, I didn't have to pump at night anymore, which made life a lot easier. (before that, it was wake up, feed Nora, put Nora to bed, pump milk, clean pump parts, go to bed for an hour, repeat the process...) I still had to pump every two-three hours during the day, but that was doable since I worked from home.

Now I won't lie and say that pumping is easy...it's not. It's time consuming and it can be frustrating to be tied to that pump when you have a fussy baby. But the tradeoff is fantastic. From day one, I was never "tied" to Elnora. I don't say that in a bad way, because I love her dearly, but it was nice to be able to leave her with my mom or mother-in-law for a few hours if I needed a break. I also didn't have to wake up with her every single time because Greg could feed her just as easily as I could. Basically, I had all the benefits of bottle feeding, but I was still giving her breast milk. Yes, I had to wash more parts and yes it took time to pump, but for someone like me that worked at home and that could express plenty of milk, it actually wasn't that hard. In fact, I've given serious thought to pumping from the start with my next child.

All of that rambling is to say that I'm not sure I understand why more moms aren't given this option. I've met so many people that were surprised to hear that I exclusively pumped and that had never thought of it as an option. There are plenty of women out there that would love to give their children breastmilk, but for whatever reason, have issues with the idea of nursing. Pumping could be a great way for these mothers to breastfeed their children without having to nurse. The same holds true for women that would like to nurse their children longer, but who are simply unable to get their child to hold still long enough to nurse. I don't think I ever would have made it past six months nursing Nora, she's just too squirmy. But by pumping, I've been able to give her mother's milk for a full year.

My biggest issue is with supplementing. I don't know a single person here locally that made it out of the hospital without having their baby be given formula in the hospital, or without being told that they had to supplement for one reason or another. Few women realize that supplementing with formula does serious harm to their ability to have their milk come in. That leads to a cycle of having less milk and doing more supplementing that spins out of control until there's simply no milk left. If mothers that had trouble nursing were encouraged to pump rather than supplement with formula, I think less of them would have the same problems with their milk coming in.

I realize that pumping isn't for everyone. Many women are unable to express any amount of milk with even the best hospital grade pump. Others simply don't have the time to put the extra effort toward pumping and cleaning bottles. But I have to think that there are women out there like me that would have eventually given up nursing in sheer desperation for sanity, but that would have gladly tried to pump if they'd known it was a real option.

That's why I've added a new shirt for pumping moms this week. This one simply says "pumped." That way, moms that pump while at work to make sure their kids can have a "home cooked meal" at day care can make a statement as well. I've also updated the exclusively pumping shirt with a new look to make it a bit more refined. I'm still working on some funny ideas for moms that pump while working, but I don't have anything quite ready to go yet. As soon as I do, you can bet that you'll see an update here.


  1. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:59 PM |  


    I just saw your site and am relieved that someone finally said this about pumping. Breastfeeding failed for me, due to a really sorry (unhelpful) lactation consultant and complicated problems (latch problems, nipple confusion/preference, infection gone undiagnosed, sleepy baby and more), made worse by my ignorance. I wish I would have been encouraged to pump in the first two weeks instead of discouraged...I'm now working to maintain a partial supply for my one-month old daughter. Wish I'd seen your site before I gave birth! Glad you posted!

    Nicole :-)

  2. Blogger Jennifer | 7:46 PM |  

    Thank you so much for the feedback. I'm so sorry for the experience you had. The nice thing is that if you've still got any supply at all, there's hope for building a solid supply with pumping. Please look up some of the great sites like KellyMom and get some tips about increasing your supply.

    Don't give up. I know it's tough...but you can totally do it. :)

  3. Anonymous Tonya | 3:08 PM |  

    I am so happy to see that someone else exclusively pumps!!! My son is almost 3 weeks old and like you, he started off latching on great and then that came to a hault on day 3 at the hospital. He got frustrated, I got frustrated and called a nurse. She then brought me a pump and I've been pumping ever since. I have tried the breast occasionally, but it now seems so stressful for him. I have a great milk supply. But it seems that every doctor, nurse, lactation specialist or pediatrician that we've have to encounter since his birth, continues to push that I need to get him to go to the breast. I don't understand this. Why do they continue to push this when me and baby are doing fine exclusively pumping? He's gaining weight wonderfully and totally satisfied. Does anyone know why they are so against exclusive pumping?

  4. Anonymous Anonymous | 7:51 PM |  

    Tonya, I think health care workers might be against exclusively pumping because it is such a commitment, most mothers may not keep it up even with the best of intentions. It's not easy being tied to the pump. I'm working on five months now, and it's really been hard. I hope all pumping moms get the appreciation they deserve from health professionals as well as the general public. I'm tired of being told "just go to formula!"

  5. Anonymous Julie | 6:04 PM |  

    24 hours after my son was born he had to go to the NICU and was heavily sedated. Due to the sedation he couldn't nurse and was given IV fluids. I stayed in the hospital with him and pumped every 2 hours (although I slept for a 6 hour stretch at night). My milk hadn't even come in yet but I pumped every 2 hours just as I was told to do. Eventually my milk came and and I developed a supply that could've probably nourished the entire NICU. I assumed that after he was discharged from the hospital I would begin nursing him. I envisioned all the great bonding time I'd spend with him while he was nursing. When we got home the idea of bonding time was thrown out the window and the real woes of nursing set in. I gave it a good try for about 3 weeks and eventually decided that it just wasn't for me. The problem is that I was totally against formula...I knew that my milk was best, especially since he'd already had complications. The NICU allowed me to come home with a hospital grade pump. This week I decided to begin pumping exclusively and it's been so wonderful! I no longer feel the stress and frustration that I felt when I was nursing unsuccessfully. My baby also seems more content and satisfied. Nursing isn't for everyone and pumping is the best alternative that I can think of! I didn't even know that pumping was looked down upon, it just seemed like the next logical thing to do. I now feel even more connected to my son than I did when I was nursing.


  6. Blogger goodmamajama | 11:04 AM |  


    Thank you for this great blog. I am so relieved to know that I am not the only one who thinks that pumping should be part of the entire pregnancy/post-partum conversation going on for pregnant women.

    For years, I have had an instinctual sense that breastfeeding wasn't going to work for me. While other women struggle with other parts of motherhood...pregnancy, childbirth, role changes, etc., I never had problems with any fears or apprehensions other than those I felt about breastfeeding. I had no idea where they came from, other than that instinctual sense that I needed what you talk about..the ability to have some freedom to have my husband share in the feeding, or to be able to go away for two hours without being tied to my child.

    Now that I have given birth to my beautiful son Emmett, I can look back and see more clearly my instinctual apprehensions in the past. When I was pregnant, I planned to BF, went to two classes to prepare myself for it, I was really doing my best to get ready for it. I didn't really feel any space to consider whether or not I wanted to BF...it was just expected (by society, friends, family) that I would.

    My son was born with a high palate and combined with my pretty flat nipples, I couldn't get a good latch, even after 2 weeks and three LC consultations. To some degree, I was relieved...although at the time my hormones and guilt made it impossible to experience that relief. I decided that due to my son's incredible frustration, my future using a nipple shield that never helped him get milk and my overall stress, that I would pump.

    My son is 6 weeks old and with the exception of two formula bottles at night, he eats BM all day. I chose to give him formula to let me gain a freezer stash so I can start the process of stopping the pumping when I want. My first goal was 6 weeks of BM, and now it is 7, then 8, up to 12 weeks. After that, my plan is to stop.

    Even giving myself permission to stop feels taboo, but I know that it is the right choice for us. My husband supports me fully, and as he begins to wind up his paternity leave, he is relieved to know that I will have more time with our son, rather than tied to the pump. Thank god I have had such a supportive partner, who loves feeding our son...when our schedules overlapped, he is always there to feed our son a bottle.

    I support you and any woman reading this who chooses to pump..it is time-consuming and quite a commitment and we should all be proud to be doing it and to have done it.

    Thank you for this blog...it is a real service.

    Jane aka goodmamajama

  7. Anonymous Sarah | 7:26 AM |  

    I'm finally discovering more and more of these exclusive pumping forums online. Thank God! I was starting to think I'm the only mother who has ever chosen to exclusively pump. My son was born at 37 weeks and never latched in the hospital. I started pumping right away to feed him colostrum. Funny that the nurses never suggested I supplement with formula before we left the hospital -- just told me to pump until we got the BF thing down to maintain my supply. Well, after 5 weeks of torture -- mental, physical and emotional -- I finally made the decision to EP so I could start bonding with my son instead of feeling resentment, sadness, depression and failure. It was the best decision I've ever made. Trouble with BF was the LAST thing I expected to encounter with my newborn, so the disappointment was huge. We're going on 3 months, and my son hasn't had any formula since week 4. It has been a challenge, and I commend those who've done it for a year. Any pointers?

  8. Blogger Jennifer | 9:27 AM |  

    Sarah, all of the posts on this site that mention pumping are gathered here:


    You might also like this post about how to build (and maintain) your supply while EPing...


    I'm also going to work on getting more info up about exclusively pumping.

  9. Blogger Isa | 7:43 PM |  

    I was so glad to read your blog.
    Good for you!
    and THANKS for posting.
    I exclusively pumped for one year, one month and two weeks.
    Everyone at the hospital told me that "It would get old really fast" "You will never last." Well, I proved them all wrong!

  10. Anonymous GG | 11:12 PM |  

    It is great when one realizes that one is not alone in a challenge they are facing or have faced. Thank you for the post and for the candid comments. I felt a real camaraderie with you all.

    While I don't quite agree that pumping is not such a big hassle (yikes, it was a real trial for me), it was definitely worth it what with all of the obstacles I faced in trying to breastfeed my baby.

    The thing that really riled me was that most people were so dogmatic about things. Whether that be about exclusive breastmilk for baby (any formula being poison in their eyes) or whether it be that a nipple shield was to be avoided at all costs. In my case, the latter might have led to eventual breastfeeding success, and the former might have made exclusively pumping a more bearable experience.

    So my experiences lead me to respectfully recommend the following: get as much information as you can before you have the baby, line up the best lactation consultants you can find, somehow find some balance in all the dogma, trust your instincts, and do what feels right. And perseverence is great, but only up to point.

    I wish all mothers who exclusively pump the best.

  11. Anonymous Anonymous | 10:18 AM |  

    Bless you for saying this out loud! I EP'ed for 9+ months for my son who would just not latch on. We tried for 6 weeks to get breastfeeding going and it was a horribly frustrating experience for both me and my son. The best thing I could do for both of us was resign to get him breastmilk the best way I could.... by exclusively pumping. I'm proud to say that with EP'ing I was able to provide my son with my breastmilk until he was 13 months old! I also got looked at strangely by a lot of "breastfeeding nazis" and often felt like I wasn't credited with just how good a job I was doing providing nurishment to my baby. I too am baffled as to why LC's never recommend or suggest EP'ing to mothers who cannot breastfeed. Thanks for your article!

  12. Anonymous Michelle | 2:13 PM |  

    Wow, reading your blog and all the comments make me feel not so alone. I planned to breastfeed as well. I read books, talked to lactation consultants, and went to LLL meetings. My little girl and I just couldn't get breastfeeding to work. She would latch on for about a minute then start screaming. I felt so bad that she was starving and I felt guilty for getting frustrated and upset with her. I decided it wasn't worth it - we were suppossed to be bonding. I bought formula then a thought came to me. Why dont I pump? Its been two months now and I'm still pumping. Every night before bed she still has formula which I hate because its hard on her tummy. I can only pump between 4-5 oz each time with my double pump even though I stay at home, she is a very, VERY high need baby. Its really hard to put her down to pump more often so I can increase my milk supply. Any suggestions or tips? Thanks for your wonderful post

  13. Anonymous Grace | 4:41 AM |  

    I am a first time mother with a 3week old baby girl. I faced a lot of difficulty during the first week due to TOTAL bladder incontinence-an uncommon condition due to childbirth. Despite that I tried my best to breastfeed (went through all the classes, read books etc). Endured several bouts of plugged ducts, then mastitis, painful breastfeeding. Consulted with 3 different lactation consultants. My baby is a very fussy nurser. She SCREAMS before and during feeding. Latches on and off all the time. It takes at least an hour, sometimes close to two to complete a feed. The screaming and the long difficult feedings make me feel very frustrated, specially since I have been trying so hard to breastfeed despite everything. It was definitely preventing me from bonding with my baby since I felt more like a hostage than a mother. My OB brought up the idea of exclusive pumping. I couldn't start earlier because of my plugged ducts. Have just started today, and I've been looking for resources on the WEB to help me through this process. I'm glad to see this blogspot and hope to find more information on exclusive pumping. I agree with a lot of the comments, especially the lack of information, since direct feeding is always recommended first. Thanks for starting this blogsite and good luck to everyone who is on the same journey.

  14. Anonymous Hester-Rose | 6:27 AM |  

    THANK YOU for your blog!! I have been pumping for 7 (yes I said 7) months now. Braelyn did not latch, we had zero LC help (it was Christmas weekend afterall) and very little support in our three visits to the LC office of the hospital. I was against formula and so wanted to nurse, but we ended up 'doing what works for us'. I was told by the pediatric nurse that pumping would never work, and the peditrician that It was too hard doing double work (it is hard).
    I still pump 5-7 times a day-none at night, and I have a very healthy happy baby girl, and a supply that makes most green with envy! I can pump 8-12 oz at a sitting.
    pumping takes time, bottles take cleaning, making milk takes rest and fluids, and Braelyn gives me more than enough joy to make up for it all! I will be getting your pumping shirt(s) and wearing-with pride!!

  15. Anonymous Tracy | 10:19 AM |  

    I am so excited to see this about exclusively pumping. I made a choice when I found out I was pregnant to pump exclusively. Everyone asked me why and My Doctor's told me "You will never produce enough milk, etc..." When I told the Lactation people in the hospital that I wanted to rent then buy a hospital grade pump, they didn't understand why I would want to pump exclusively and not "nurse". It's simple. I wanted my son to be able to also bond with his father and our other family members, I needed to rest and sleep at night. I have a full-time career that I was going back to at 6 weeks, and I wanted him to have breastmilk. What great technology we have today that a mother can give her baby breastmilk while not having to be there 24/7. Why more mothers do not see this as an option I will never understand. Actually had I been nursing my son who needed pyloric stenosis surgery at 5 weeks old, my milk would have dried up b/c he couldn't nurse for 5 days (if I was not used to pumping). Everyone also told me I would need to pump 8-10 times a day. I starting pumping maybe 5 times a day right after his birth and now I am down to 4 times in 24 hours and I am able to go overnight without pumping. I have always produced more than enough milk for my son with only pumping 4-5 times a day and I can enjoy the freedom of work, other familiy members taking care of him without the guilt of having to give him formula. I also do not consider it "hard". What I think is hard is being awake every 2-3 hours for the first few weeks and having to exclusively nurse with no one else to help you, then you also wouldn't be able to go anywhere. I do however recommend the hospital grade pump to rent for a few weeks, then buy the double electric pump. I can pump in the car, at home, or by batteries if I am not near an outlet. I also recommend the Hands Free Pumping Bra which allows me to work, or when I am home, hold my baby and even feed him a bottle at the same time! I can do anything while pumping. What I consider hard is worrying about your baby having gas, digestive issues or being sick while you are at work or somewhere because you can't "nurse". Exclusively pumping is the way to go, my son is perfectly happy and healthy and loves his Daddy, Mommy, and Grandma being able to feed him and take care of him!

    I hope anyone who chooses to exclusively pump does NOT feel the need to give an explanation on why you make that choice.

  16. Anonymous Terri | 11:25 AM |  

    My son is now 7 months old and he has had pumped breastmilk for 6 of those months. He latched on in the hospital like a dream. The problems started when my husband went back to work his night shift. I became resentful and depressed -along with plugged milk ducts and mastitis - my son would no longer latch on. My son and I became frustrated with each other and as he screamed I would cry and no breastfeeding would get done at all. Eventually I started EPing not due to choice but necessity because I refused to give my baby formula. All of my health care providers made me feel guilty about giving up on breastfeeding itself but I truly believe it has made me a better mom because I no longer feel that resentment toward him or my husband.

    Thanks SO MUCH for this blog. Until recently I have never made my choice to EP public information because I was embarrassed and ashamed that I was not able to keep my son latched on. Now that I realize I am not the only one to have gone through this it makes me feel more successful, I have after all provided him with nutrition for 7 months now. THANK YOU LADIES!!!!

  17. Blogger Sara | 7:32 PM |  

    I just saw your site, as I've been looking for help about pumping. I really wanted to nurse, and my son did well with it for like 3 days, and then I couldn't get him to latch on anymore. After crying for a whole day, thinking I was a failure as a mother, and after several frustrating syringe feedings with him sucking on my finger, I gave him a bottle. He's been doing great with that, and I have plenty of milk, about 1.5x as much as he needs now (which is approx. 1.5-2 oz. every 2-3 hours...I think he's a little pig, but he hardly spits up at all and he seems really content. He's a week old.). But since, I was planning on nursing, I know nothing about pumping. My husband and I travel for a living all the time (by car), and so next week baby will join us on the road again. I can pump in the car, and feed him there too, but what I'm wondering is how much milk I should be pumping. Should I get out all I can to maintain my supply (and to have enough for him when he'll eat more later)? Because as for storage when traveling, I have a cooler bag that keeps milk good for so many hours, but on trips for several weeks, even if hotels have mini fridges...I don't see how I can keep extra milk good. It's a shame to spend time pumping it, and then throw it away. How many times a day do I have to pump to not compromise my supply? Right now I'm doing it at every feeding (since I'm at home and can freeze). I saw you said you didn't have to pump at night anymore, how long did you wait to stop doing that? I appreciate any tips you can give me.

  18. Blogger The Lactivist | 8:31 PM |  


    How much you pump really depends on you. You'll find over time where the balance is in how much you can cut down your pumping without seeing a drop in supply.

    I found I could cut out night pumping at around 2 weeks. At the time, I was pumping every two hours during the day. By four weeks, I cut down to every three hours, but six weeks it was every four hours.

    Eventually I got down to four times a day. In doing that, I got about 12 extra ounces a day, but if I dropped to three times, my supply took a huge dip.

    You'll just have to work out the balance.

    As for throwing away the excess...yes it stinks, but if you can't freeze it and do something with it, you don't have much choice. You could try joining Milk Share and donating it...but other options like HMBANA banks are probably out for you if you travel that much.

  19. Blogger Jennifer | 2:15 PM |  

    I have been EPing for 6 months. I started when my son was three weeks old. He had undiagnosed acid reflux and was eating every 45 minutes which created a huge oversupply issue. I loved Exclusive pumping because I can go run errands and not have to worry about the nursing schedule, and I can get a night off and my husband can take care of him! Something that matters a lot to me! Thanks so much for the blog. I am very happy with being an exclusive pumper!

  20. Anonymous D | 12:58 AM |  

    I am so glad, I found this forum. My baby girl is 1 month old now. For the first 1.5 weeks I went through lots of depression as the baby would not latch on and most of the times made me too sore. With the help of an LC she started latching on but she would sleep through the entire feeding. I would hold her for hours without any success. Consequence - she would be extremely cranky and hungry through the night making us all extremely frustrated. I started exclusively pumping during her third week and now I have enough to feed her and freeze few ounces each day.

    Problem is that I need to take her to another country soon and would have a long flight (about 17 hours plus transit). Does anyone know how to keep pumping in the airport as well as in the flight?

    Also, the baby only takes 1 or 1.5 oz at a time, almost every hour or so which makes my schedule very difficult.
    Any suggestions for refrigerating and warming the milk. I have been warming about 2.5 oz at one time but she consumes it in 2-3 hours - is it ok for the milk to be outside for so long awfter refrigeration and warming?

    Any help will be appreciated.


  21. Blogger The Lactivist | 5:59 AM |  


    I've pumped on airplanes many times over. (And in taxis, on buses, on rifle ranges, at amusement parks...you get my drift. ;)

    You can totally pump on the plane or in the airport. At the airport, there are usually plugs all around the waiting areas. If you don't want to pump in a public spot (which I totally understand) you can look for a "family lounge" or "family bathroom."

    On the plane, you have two options. Pump at your seat, or go to the bathroom. If you are a very large woman, pumping in the bathroom will be tough. If you aren't, it's no big deal. Not the best place to pump, but as outgoing as I am, I wasn't up for pumping in my seat so I made do.

    There are 3 prong outlets in nearly every airline bathroom. You can buy a battery pack for almost every pump though. (My PISA came with one, the hospital grade pump I used needed an adapter.) Battery time varies by pump, but most will give you about 1-2 hours of pump time. Take extra batteries with you and you should be able to rely entirely on battery power if you can't find an outlet.

    As for the milk, call the airline. If it's a 17 hour flight, they may be willing to store it in their fridge. Just tell them you'll have milk for your baby that needs to be refrigerated. If they say no (they might), then you'll need to take an insulated tote and zip lock bags. The zip lock bags are for ice.

    You won't get through security with ice or ice packs. Dump the ice out of your zip lock bags before security, then stop at a vendor on the other side and ask for more. Most will give you ice for free if you tell them it's for your baby's milk. Once on the plane, keep an eye on the ice. As it melts, dump it out in the bathroom and ask the flight attendants to replace it.

    Breast milk can stay at room temperature for up to eight hours before you have to dispose of it. I never went quite that long, but you should be fine.

    Depending on how often you pump, consider taking along enough to get you through the first two feedings. Pump the rest as you go (staying a feeding ahead.)

    Good luck! You can do this!

  22. Anonymous Anonymous | 2:57 PM |  

    Hi. I am expecting my third child in June and have decided to exclusively pump for this child (rather that bottle feed with formula) for the first time. Both of my children have been exclusively formula-fed successfully. No allergies, no excessive weight-gain, etc. In fact, most people are so surprised when they find out that I have never breast fed, because my kids are really very healthy and intelligent. However, I have decided to pump from day 1 with this next baby for several reasons:
    1. Breast milk is best.
    2. I am uncomfortable with the idea of nursing.
    3. I want the benefits of freedom from each and every feeding. My husband and other children (who are much older) will also enjoy bonding with the baby while feeding.
    4. I want the added benefit of weight-loss and prevention of breast cancer.

    I would love to hear from you any advice you have to offer or resources you can offer me. My main concern is pressure from the lactation consultants at the hospital where I will deliver. I am afraid that they will try to pressure me into attempting to nurse, which I am really against doing. I am simply not interested in doing so. I was never pressured when I stated that I would bottle-feed because I never came into contact with any of the LC's, but sometimes I know that they can be a bit heavy-handed with their opinions.
    Thank you,

  23. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 3:02 PM |  

    Hey anonymous! Glad to hear you're going to try to get breast milk into your new baby! Every drop counts. :)

    You'll find all my posts on the subject of exclusively pumping here: http://thelactivist.blogspot.com/search/label/Pumping%20Milk

    You likely will face some pressure from LCs, but I'd suggest being very upfront and making it clear you are educated and you're looking for the help YOU need to meet YOUR goals.

    Exclusively pumping is difficult and it's simply not feasible for some moms. Your best bet is to do a lot of reading ahead of time about the best ways to establish and maintain supply, to plan on renting a hospital grade pump for at least the first three months (store bought pumps are simply not as effective at bringing your milk in) and sticking to a pumping schedule RIGOROUSLY.

    Good luck!

  24. Blogger stillajones | 4:12 PM |  

    All of this information is really helpful, and encouraging. How does your milk supply increase as the baby grows and will demand more ounces? I noticed when I pump every 3 hrs I can only make up to 3oz between both sides but if I wait 6 hrs I can make 2 bottles of 3 oz each; will this start to diminish if I keep with the every 5-6 hrs pump session? Also no one tells how they mark their stored milk especially if you use the Medela 2.5 oz bulk storage containers, I purchased a set of wax pencils(china markers) from an office supply chain to write the dates on my containers and keep them in order by oldest to newest. The pencils wipe right off with effort, can stand the moisture and are also great on plastic storage bags since they dont have a sharp point.

  25. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:12 AM |  

    So glad to hear that other mothers are exclusively pumping! The nurses at the hospitals throw breastfeeding on you and make you feel guilty if you don't. I too wanted to give my daughter breast milk but she would not latch on so I've been pumping for almost 2 weeks and plan on doing so for as long as I can. Thanks again for the post!!!

  26. Anonymous Monica | 2:48 AM |  

    Thanks so much for such a great site. I have never known that there is such a term of exlcusive breastfeeding until I did extensive research. I underwent truly emotional time, between my desire to breastfeed my baby and my inability to feed her. Plus, I did not get support from anyone around me. Most of my friends and the LC nurse at the hospital scrown on my decision to bottle feed my baby using my expressed milk. Even my mom ephasize the fact that I am not bonding enough with my daughter. Regardless, I decided to give up nursing and Eping all the way. It is tiring, but my goal is to never give y daughter formula milk and I have succeded so far. My daughter is 3 weeks old now, and I still feel realy sad about my inability to nurse her, but now knowing that i am not truly alone has made me feel that i have made the right decision:)

  27. Anonymous Anonymous | 1:42 PM |  

    Thanks for such a great article! My daughter was born at 36 weeks, 3 days and had a great latch, but would fall asleep right away. I asked one of the nurses in the hospital if I could pump and she acted as though that was the worst thing ever. She even said "that would defeat the purpose of breastfeeding." HUH???? How so? Thank goodness the lactation consultant on duty approved of the pumping and encouraged it. We mixed a little formula with the milk I produced for a few weeks until my supply was well established. I exclusively pumped for a full year with little to no formula at all (except the few times it was just easier to travel with nurser bottles that didn't need to be chilled). Now that she is 13 1/2 months, I can begin to back off as she is drinking more cow's milk. I too wish that more women would be given this opportunity to pump; it seems as though hospitals give 2 choices when it comes to feeding: nursing (directly from the breast) or formula. I was initially made to feel as though I was doing something inferior for my child by pumping, but I know that I have actually given her quality milk much longer than others who have directly nursed. My sister stopped at 6 months because her baby started to bite. That was never a problem for me. Also, even though I spent a lot of $$$ on 2 Medela pumps, I still spent half as much as formula would have cost for the same period of time, so it's still a plus. Yes, the time involved stinks sometimes, as you really do feel like a slave to the pump, and I definately felt ready to give it all up many times, but it was all worth it. Not to mention the weight loss (which is still my incentive! Ha!).

  28. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:48 AM |  

    Hi fellow pumpers. I have a six week old baby girl - my second child. with my first child I exclusively pumped for 4 weeks. He was very colicky, which I believe was due to a later-diagnosed cow milk protein allergy which we didn't know of until he was 1 year old. I pumped with him because the lactation consultants were HORRIBLE at the hospital. With this baby girl, she latched on like a dream and I did enjoy breastfeeding - but that soon changed when she began to get really fussy while nursing. With both kids, I made an insane amount of milk - I made about 70-80 ounces/day with my son (10 ounces every 3 hours) and now I am producing about 50-60 ounces/day (10-12 ounces every 4-5 hours). It seems that since my production increased, this baby has been more fussy. I am wondering if I have too much foremilk due to my high volume of milk ... and therefoe it's making her fussy. Any help on this?? She does not have green stools, which I know is a symptom of overproduction. I do think that her fussiness while breastfeeding on me was due to the rapid letdown and huge quantity of milk (she likes to eat slowly). I am just about ready to give up and go to formula, which kills me because she is growing so well and it's so good for her! ... AND I wouldn't know which formula to choose if she has a food allergy like her brother. (I have been avoiding dairy FYI). Thanks and good luck to all of you!

  29. Blogger ~A~ | 4:10 PM |  

    I think it's divine intervention I found this blog...I was thinking about giving up pumping. It seemed like an impossible task. It's so encouraging to see someone who did it for a whole year. I had planned to nurse...spent money on nursing tanks, bras, covers etc but it all went out the window when he wouldn't latch on properly in the hospital because of my flat nipples. They forced me to give him formula (wouldn't even let me pump, said it had been "too long" since he was born to go without food for one more moment. He was 6 hours old.) I spent the next week with my baby crying hysterically every time I tried to nurse because He only wanted artificial nipples. I bought a pump and got a lactation consultant. It went badly. I cried after she left. I was mad about spending hundreds of dollars to be left in the same exact position. I felt like my body was a failure. I tried nipple shields but they didn't feed the baby enough milk. No one ever made exclusive pumping sound like a real option. I felt like no one did it. It's so good to see that there is online support and other moms who want to do what's best even if nursing didn't work out.

    God Bless!

  30. Anonymous Anonymous | 10:50 PM |  

    My daughter was born with a cleft palate. I got no help from LC or hospital. I did attempt nursing for 5 days but Jenna was just not getting enough to gain weight. We went to the specialist and they even discouraged pumping. They suggested high calorie formula. I refused. They relented after we agreed to weekly weight checks. I had nursed my son and I felt my daughter deserved the same. Especially, since she will have to have surgery around 6 to 10 months old and cleft palate babies are prone to have lots of ear infections. My daughter is now 8 weeks old and she hasn't had an ear infection and she gained 10 oz. last week.
    I do wonder if I should rent a hospital grade pump since I would like to pump for one year. I am using a Medela Pump in Style right now. Would the hospital grade pump help keep my supply up? I just went back to work, and I'm scared that my pump is going to give out before pupming does.

  31. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 6:41 AM |  


    In an ideal world, exclusive pumpers would use a hospital grade pump (Medela Symphony, preferably) for the first 2-3 months of pumping.

    It can be tough to build a supply with a store-bought pump, as they simply don't work the same way. Generally, you can establish a supply with a hospital grade adn then switch to something like the PISA or an Ameda Purely Yours and use that for as long as you continue pumping.

    If you're this far out and have good supply, I honestly might not worry about it. If you're struggling at all with building supply and are only 8 weeks out, then switching to a hospital grade for a month or two might give you a boost.

    Good luck to you! It's hard work, but you can do it! I did it for 13 months with my daughter and my SIL is now EPing for her son who was born 9 weeks early and was unable to nurse.

  32. Anonymous Anonymous | 5:33 AM |  

    I really liked your article. I am an EPer too after unsuccesfull breastfeeding. My milk came in after a week, and by then had to supplement. I had a horrible LC who shoved my baby into my breast so many times untill he had a breast aversion. After having an unplanned c-section, I had to also grieve the loss of not breastfeeding. To me, it is a huge inconvienience. I am always having to pump, and never got a great supply. It was never offered as an option to me. My LC told me if he didn't BF by 6 weeks to just put him on a bottle. I had to learn on the internet how to build a supply. This alternative NEEDS to be presented as an option to women who have trouble breastfeeing. People don't realize how much harder and more time consuming it is, and how dedicated we are to providing optimal nutrition to our babies. I go to a breastfeeding support group, I just wish we had a EPing support group!!!!

  33. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:28 AM |  

    I just ended my exclusive pumping after 11months and am using up my frozen milk.. and i feel emotional about having stopped...but i knwo its time as i started working and schedule is hard now. But...i have done it-lsted this long and am so proud...i couldnt find info like this a while ago when i looked on internet must have used wrong words in search. gald this exists for all you.
    I know how dedicated this is but it is worth it all!!!!
    No one udnerstands how much you put into this(even husband dosnt really) on top of everything else you do..except those who have done it too..

  34. Anonymous Anonymous | 3:38 PM |  

    Thank you for your blog!!! This is my 2nd child and my 2nd time of exclusive pumping. I also felt that breastfeeding was so frustrating that I wasn't bonding...only resenting everything! With the first baby, I pumped for 6 months; I'm 5 weeks into the 2nd baby; my goal is to make it 12 weeks, but I'm not going to put any pressure on myself. Some tips: get "easy expressions" hands-free pumping bra (looks like a madonna bra and allows you to pump hands free). This allows you to pump while feeding and cuts the "double work" to some degree. Also, radio shack sells adaptors that can be used to convert your cars cigarette lighter to run your breast pump. With baby #1, I had a long commute, and pumped in the car while driving (sounds insane, but I live in LA, what can you do?) Keep up the good work, all of you!

  35. Blogger Rikki | 6:35 PM |  

    I have exclusivly pumped for 2 babies and had no problem! Yes it's a time commitment but that is what you do when you have children, do what is best for them no matter what it takes! I got guff from docotrs and nurses everywhere I went about the time I spend and why not just give formula? I pumped over 50oz a day, there was no way i was going to throw it way! Nursing never worked for me because I had such a heavy let down and such a high volume of milk. I hope more people will learn of this option!!!

  36. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:56 PM |  

    I wish I could have found sites like this site months ago! My son is 8 months old and hasn't had formula since the week he came home from the hospital. If it could go wrong with breastfeeding, it did. I tried for about 2 months to get him to BF while pumping to maintain supply then supplementing with mamma milk in a bottle. One 3am feeding he wacked the nipple shield across the room and it landed under the couch. When I was on all fours sifting thru the dog/cat hair for the silly thing, I was wondering how much more I could take. He was screaming and crying because he was hungry. I was crying because I was "failing." I took a deep breath and fixed him a bottle of mamma milk. And, we had a discussion that this was how it was gonna be and it was ok with both of us. My supply is still going strong and am currently a breast milk donor! Only pumping moms know the sacrifice of time and energy that we give.

    Franklin's Mamma

  37. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:27 AM |  

    I pumped exclusively for the first three weeks because my baby was five weeks premature and had a hard time sucking from the breat. He was losing calories by trying to breast feed. During our five day stay at the hospital (we had our baby in the room with us the entire time). I received SO much conflicting advice from nurses, lactionists and nursing assistants that my head was spinning. We literally had a different round of professionals every five hours. We never saw the same person again after their shift was up. Our baby ended up losing to much weight and his jaundice was not getting better and I think this is due to the fact that I was told to put him to breast. He was burning all his calories trying to nurse and not having the energy to get anything from it. Even after they suggested I pump they told me to use a bottle that was like a breast (first years breast flow). The poor guy just needed milk! Finally the last lactionist we saw told us to use the hospital bottles (you hardly need to suck at all) and to stop putting him to breast until he gained weight and his jaundice levels went down. Finally some good advice! He was still getting my breast milk but it was coming to him in a way that worked for him. After three weeks of non stop pumping and bottle feeding he was strong enough to nurse exclusively. Now he is three months old and nurses like a champ. He has more than doubled his birth weight and can use any bottle we give him when we need to go out. We actually LOVE the first years breastflow now that he is able to use it. My point being that they make breatfeeding WAY more stressful than it needs to be. It is as if the act of breastfeeding is more important than the nutrition gained from it. I love breastfeeding my baby but if he had continued to struggle with it I would have kept pumping. Mother's shouldn't feel like failures because they can't breastfeed. There is already enough guilt out there for mothers.

  38. Anonymous BAS | 8:48 AM |  

    I am new to breastfeeding, I only formula ged my son, but my nest baby is due in 8 weeks and I am really wanting to try BF. I am trying to educated myself as much as possible, but I still can't get myself completely used to the idea of nursing..it kinda grosses me out. I also liked having my husband help and knowing I have to go back to work after 6 weeks (but for only 2 days a week) know that I'll have to use a bottle at some point anyway. This site has totally encouraged me to know I can still do the BF thing but at my own comfort level. Does anyone have suggestions as how to start? Do I let my newborn nurse in the hospital and then start pumping as soon as I get home? I have considered nursing a few weeks but know for sure I want to build a supply up to have hubby help or for future. Thank you all for being the most supportive and understanding women out there I have met!

  39. Blogger My Tales with Two | 8:36 AM |  

    So happy to have found this blog. I am EPing now for my 7 week old twins. After being told I had "flat nipples" in the hospital, we have been dealing with latch issues for both ever since. While I didn't mind the nipple shields at all, and they did help, I felt like they were too long - choking my babies who wouldn't get a deep latch. Without the good latch, they didn't get enough, and we were bottle feeding an hour later. So my schedule was basically nurse, pump to empty my breast to keep supply, bottle feed. I did this each time, with TWO babies. After a month, I just gave up on the nursing part. I too felt like such a failure when they wanted a bottle after a nursing session, fell asleep at my breast or refused to latch. I so wanted to nurse longer as I wanted to provide that bonding time to my little ones, but there's only so much a woman can take! After the one month mark, I switched to renting the Medela Symphony vs. my Pump in Style and have increased my supply. Still not great compared to some of you - 43 ounces daily is my record (and still pumping every three hours - even at night) and taking about 6 Fenugreek capsules daily. Here's hoping I can last a whole year like some of you amazing women!

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