Exclusively Pumping? Here Are 10 Tips to Make It Easier


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Source: @kindredbravely
Source: @kindredbravely

Breast milk is often hailed as liquid gold. The medical community is in agreement that breast milk provides the ideal nutrition and nutrients that your baby needs and the AAP breastfeeding guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life. They also note that breastfeeding has continued benefits for both baby and mother for up to two years. However, for a number of reasons, breastfeeding is not always possible or the best choice for families. One alternative option to breastfeeding is exclusively pumping, which provides the nutrients of breast milk with the flexibility of bottle feeding. 

To help navigate the process, we’re sharing some practical tips that will help make pumping smoother and less stressful.


10 Exclusively Pumping Tips

Choosing a middle ground is the reason that I personally chose to exclusively pump with my first child. And while it came with plenty of benefits, it brought its own set of challenges as well. The process is one that can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be time-consuming and lonely. 

With that in mind, we’re sharing some practical tips to help make the process of exclusively pumping smoother and less stressful. From tips on keeping up your milk supply, to recommendations on what products to purchase, we’re sharing everything you need to know if you’ll be exclusively pumping.


What is Exclusive Pumping?

First things first—what is exclusively pumping? Pumping is when you express breast milk and then feed your child through a bottle instead of feeding them at the breast. Think of it similar to a middle option between breastfeeding and formula feeding. You are providing your child with breast milk but doing so by bottle.

Parents can choose to exclusively pump for a number of reasons. It could be due to latching issues, being separated from your child at work, or personal preference. Pumping and feeding your child through a bottle also gives you a certain amount of freedom, as it allows others to be able to feed your baby instead of just having to rely on you. 


How To Exclusively Pump

While pumping can be an incredibly fulfilling option for some mothers, it still comes with its own challenges. These are 10 tips to help make the journey of exclusively pumping a little smoother: 


1. Choose a pump that fits your lifestyle

You can rent a hospital grade pump, which is a highly efficient option that can often be rented through your hospital or local breastfeeding support center. If you choose to purchase a pump, you also have different options to choose from, including manual models, battery-powered pumps, and electric pumps. 

When choosing a breast pump (or multiple breast pumps), you’ll want to consider what works best for your lifestyle. There are options for wearable breast pump or a hands free pump, wireless options that you can wear while you go about your day.

Keep in mind that, while convenient, both of these options can be more expensive than a traditional plug-in breast pump. You will also want to check to see what options are available for coverage under your health insurance plan. Plug-in breast pumps will not allow you the same amount of mobility, though you can make them hands-free by purchasing a pumping bra

Finally, you have manual breast pumps, which are operated by hand. No matter which option you choose, it’s always a good idea to have a manual breast pump available to you. This option is key if the power goes out or you are dealing with an issue like a clogged duct that needs a little bit of extra attention than you can get from hand expressing.


2. Make sure you have the right flange size

A breast pump flange, also known as a breast shield, is a funnel-shaped piece that fits over the nipple and areola during pumping. It works to create a seal around the area, which allows for effective suction and expression of milk. The size of the breast shield is vitally important because it can affect both your physical comfort, as well as your milk production while pumping. Finding and speaking with a lactation specialist or doctor to find the right size can make a huge difference in your pumping journey.


3. Set up a pumping station at home

Set up an area in your home that is comfortable and quiet, where you can pump undisturbed. You’ll want a dedicated place to store your breast pump, storage for pump parts and accessories, and a comfortable chair. This will help create a less stressful time when pumping, so you don’t need to track down all the parts each time you need to pump.


4. Speak with a lactation consultant 

Pumping can be overwhelming, to say the least. Finding the right pump, setting aside the time, and making sure to keep your milk supply up can all be mentally and physically exhausting. Speaking with a lactation consultant can be incredibly helpful both when starting pumping and throughout the process.

They can help you with things like finding the right pump and flange size, as well as recommending supplements and foods to increase milk supply. Your OB-GYN and pediatrician are both great resources to reach out to to get a recommendation for a good lactation consultant to speak to.


5. Buy extra parts to use while one set is sterilizing

Since you’ll be pumping several times throughout the day, buying an extra set of parts can be a lifesaver. It’s important to wash and sterilize pump parts after each time that you pump, so having an extra set of parts on hand can help prevent the need to rush and continuously wash the same parts over and over again.


6. Use an app to track your pumping 

If you’re exclusively pumping, you’ll want to plan to pump anywhere between 8 and 10 times over a 24-hour period to start out. To help keep track of the number of times you pump per day, as well as your pumping schedule, it can be helpful to download an app to keep track. 

I personally used the Huckleberry app to keep track of the last time I pumped, along with how much milk I pumped. Keeping track helped me to establish a routine and ensured I had consistent milk production (and helped to keep away that dreaded mastitis). 


7. Make sure you’re being consistent with pumping to avoid mastitis

On the topic of keeping a pumping schedule, you want to make sure you are consistent with your pumping to help maintain your milk supply and also prevent conditions like mastitis.

And as the baby gets older and requires less milk, make sure you are slowly weaning off of your pumping schedule to avoid dealing with clogged milk ducts.


exclusively pumping tips

Source: @willowpump


8. Multi-task feeding while pumping

Using a hands-free pump can be incredibly helpful for a number of reasons, but one of them is that you can feed bottle-feed your baby while pumping. Multi-tasking while pumping will help save time and, honestly, it helps make the process of pumping go faster!


9. Set up a support system

This is a big one. Setting up a support system is vital for life with a baby, no matter how you choose to feed them. But, one upside to pumping is that it allows for bottle feeding that can be done by others. 

While it can be easy to feel like you need to do it all, take advantage of offers for help, and let a family member or friend bottle-feed your baby while you take the time to pump. Speaking of… 


10. Take time for yourself/create a relaxing routine while pumping

This is the tip I always had the hardest time taking to heart myself, but it is so important. When you can, use the time you are pumping to relax and take a little time for yourself. It may not be realistic to expect this for each pumping session, but try and set aside one per day where a partner takes the baby, and let yourself enjoy a TV show, read a book, listen to music, or whatever else will help you relax.

Pumping can be exhausting, and it’s incredibly important to make sure you take a little time for yourself. Plus, relaxation can help stimulate let-down and make pumping more productive, a win-win!


Exclusive Pumping Must-Haves


Quality Breast Pump and Parts

The most vital tool you need to have when exclusively pumping is a reliable, quality breast pump. Whether you choose to get a hospital-grade pump, wearable pump, or a plug-in pump, you’ll want to make sure you are choosing whatever is going to work best for your lifestyle. You’ll also want to invest in the right parts, including properly sized breast shields or flanges to ensure comfort and efficient milk production.

Along with all the parts and accessories, make sure you have a way to properly store and travel with all of your equipment whenever you need to travel with it. Whether you are using it at work, or simply going to a friend’s house, you want to make sure everything is easily accessible so you don’t need to skip a pumping session.


Milk Storage Bags and Containers

When you’re pumping, you will want a way to store milk both in the refrigerator for more immediate use, along with in the freezer to use later on. To do this, you will want to make sure to have milk storage bags and containers. Many breast pump companies have correlating storage bottles that will allow you to pump directly into the bottle and then put it in the fridge.

For freezing, you can purchase milk storage bags and then use an organizer or storage container specifically meant for breast milk storage.

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Legendairy Milk
Silicone Breastmilk Storage Bags
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Target | Milkies
Freeze Breast Milk Freezing and Storage
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Target | Medela
Breast Milk Storage Solution Set
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Target | nanobebe
25 Breast Milk Storage Bags and Organizer
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Amazon | Momcozy
Silicone Breastmilk Storage Bags
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Walmart | Medela
100-Pack Breast Milk Storage Bags
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Pumping Bra/Bustier

Having your hands free while pumping gives you so much more mobility and freedom, so having a comfortable, supportive pumping bustier to hold the flanges in place makes a world of difference. These bustiers are made to be easily adjustable and offer support that allows you to continue pumping without having to use your hands. There are a variety of different styles to choose from, so you can pick whatever is best for you.

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Target | Simple Wishes
Hands Free Pumping Bra Adjustable Fit Bra
Adjustable for sizes XS-L
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Nordstrom | Kindred Bravely
Sublime Hands-Free Pumping/Nursing Bra
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Do Anything Bra
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Nursing and Pumping Bra
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Lactation Massager and Nipple Cream

Two items that make a huge difference in comfort are a lactation massager and nipple cream. A lactation massager can help to stimulate milk flow, as well as break down clogs that lead to mastitis. 

Nipple creams are important to use both during and after pumping. They can be used during pumping to help lubricate the area around the nipple or after pumping to help with any dryness or related pain. Nipple cream is especially important for the first several weeks of pumping as your nipples get more used to the stimulation caused by the pump.

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Target | LaVie
Lactation Massager
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Target | Momcozy
Warming and Vibrating Chest Massager
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Amazon | Earth Mama
Organic Nipple Butter
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nipple cream
Amazon | Lansinoh
Nipple Cream
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Target | Frida Mom
Breast Care Kit
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Legendairy Milk
Pumping Spray
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