Exclusive Pumping: Breast Pumping Tips to Consider
Whether by choice or necessity, for some moms “breastfeeding” means exclusively pumping and bottle feeding to give baby the amazing benefits of breast milk. And, while considerations should be given to any feeding choice, exclusive pumping comes with a set of unique challenges and situations that need to be taken into account to be successful.
Choose the right breast pump
Most breast pumps are made for moms who are both nursing and pumping throughout their standard day. Exclusively pumping is an entirely different experience which puts added stress and demand on your equipment to meet the same needs without any assistance from baby. To succeed, it’s important that you choose a breast pump designed to withstand this level of use. Even among our own products, the only breast pump we recommend for an exclusively pumping mom is our Symphony® Breast Pump, which has been clinically proven to initiate, build, and maintain breast milk supply for the mom and baby who are unable to breastfeed.
Properly initiating your breast milk supply as soon as possible after giving birth is imperative to the long-term success of your breast milk feeding journey. If initiation is not done properly in the beginning, then the longer-term outlook for your milk supply can be negatively impacted. Symphony PLUS® is engineered with Initiation Technology™, which can help to significantly increase breast milk production when used soon after your delivery. Just be sure to talk to your doctor and/or a lactation professional while at the hospital – especially if you will be exclusively pumping – to ensure proper initiation from the get-go, so you can have the strongest start possible. Additionally, Medela offers a convenient rent-to-home option for our Symphony PLUS breast pump, which allows you to receive this hospital-grade (multi-user) breast pump at your doorstep for convenient at-home use as long as you choose.
Prepare to store
You’re going to have lots of breast milk to store as you exclusively pump – and it’s going to require space in your refrigerator and freezer. Using storage bags labeled with the date and time you pumped will help you make sure you’re using your stored milk in the most efficient way. When storing and freezing, be sure not to overfill the containers, as liquids expand when frozen – you don’t want to lose one drop of that liquid gold! And always follow proper breast milk storage guidelines.
Set realistic goals
Every mom and baby are different, so don’t stress about your milk supply! You can set a pumping output goal if you’d like, but most moms who are exclusively pumping find that the goal changes over time as your body adjusts to exactly what your baby needs. Typically, a baby under 6 months old will eat 3 to 5 ounces at a feeding, and consume anywhere from 19 to 30 ounces in a day. Have a surplus of breast milk? Consider milk donation or get creative with any leftover breast milk once you’ve weaned.
Take care of yourself
Support your breastfeeding and pumping goals by taking care of YOU! Find time to unwind and relax and do something just for yourself. This will help you feel better overall and reduce stress – which will help your pumping life as well. Properly fitting breast shields, a hands-free pumping bustier, and lanolin or hydrogel pads for sore nipples are great tools to help make your pumping journey a little bit easier.
In fact, our PersonalFit™ Flex breast shields are designed for comfort and pumping efficiency – a soft rim, unique oval shape that can be rotated 360 degrees, and a 105-degree opening angle adjust easily to the shape of your breast and helps you find the most comfortable pumping positions. Best of all, our PersonalFit Flex breast shields are shown to remove 11.8% more milk per minute than traditional breast shields with a 90-degree angle – a huge plus for exclusively pumping mamas, so you can maximize the efficiency of each pumping session and optimize your milk output!
Breastfeeding looks different to everyone. Whether you're nursing, exclusively pumping, or a mix, you're working hard to provide the best for your baby. Keep going on the tough days and celebrate all the small victories along the way. You can do this, mama!