Is Exclusively Pumping Breastmilk Possible?

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Answered by: Rachael, An Expert in the Pumping Breast Milk Category
When it comes to the infamous "mommy wars" the battle between breastfeeding and formula feeding is a heated debate. Most moms either feel strongly towards breastfeeding or strongly towards formula feeding. However, some pro-breastfeeding moms aren't able to exclusively breastfeed due to work schedules, some want to provide breast milk without having to breastfeed, and some aren't able to breastfeed at all due to latching issues and other unforeseen circumstances.

This is where exclusively pumping breastmilk comes into play. Many breastfeeding mamas get to know the pump early on in their breastfeeding career, usually in small doses. But some take it one step further and decide that exclusively pumped breastmilk is best for their baby. If you're wondering if it's possible to feed your little one exclusively on expressed milk, I'm here to tell you from firsthand experience that it is.

Exclusively pumping is not only possible, it's an excellent option for moms who want to provide breast milk but aren't as keen on breastfeeding or for moms who have tried unsuccessfully to establish a positive and productive breastfeeding relationship with baby. Like breastfeeding, pumping takes a lot of time and effort. And while you may end up spending more time with your pump than you ever imagined in the beginning, it also opens up a world of possibilities.

It’s important to realize at the beginning of your exclusively pumping journey that you’re going to be pumping every time you would be breastfeeding. This mimics baby feeding and tells your body to keep on producing breast milk. You want to aim for 8-10 pumps per day for the first three months, with one pump during the night, for at least 20 minutes at a time. Use the 20 minutes as a general guide and the minimum amount of time spent at the pump, but also make sure you’re fully empty before switching off the pump. Completely emptying each breast signals to your body that it’s time to produce more milk.

During the initial three months of baby’s life, your milk production is hormone driven, which is why it’s important to pump 8-10 times per day. Once you reach the three-month milestone, your milk supply begins to level out, and you can start experimenting with how many pumping sessions you need to keep up your milk production.

As a general rule of thumb, if it’s possible you don’t want to drop more than one pump per month. It takes time for your body to adjust to each dropped pump, and while you may initially see an increase in milk supply when you drop a pump, it’s also possible that you will also see a decrease in milk production overall. Each woman is different, though, and everyone has their “sweet spot” with both pumping and breastfeeding. The number of pumps per day that may work for one person won’t always work for the next.

While it may be trying at times to exclusively pumping breastmilk, it also is a very rewarding task to undertake. Take heart knowing you’re providing breast milk for your baby, and relish the fact that you can let others take over the feeding from time to time since baby isn’t tied exclusively to you.

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