Exclusive Pumping Newborns

Exclusive Pumping (often referred to as EP-ing), is exactly what you might think: a mother breast pumps her milk and feeds her baby exclusively via bottle.

No nursing. No formula.

Exclusively pumping breast milk is becoming increasingly popular, and with good cause.

Just as an FYI, half of the mothers who contribute to this blog are or were exclusively pumping. As such, this contingent was somewhat miffed when we sat down to do further research on exclusive pumping and combine our wisdom.

Books on the regiment are scarce.

Information within breastfeeding literature is usually relegated to a few short paragraphs, if anything at all.

And opinions are readily at hand—suggesting that exclusively pumping mamas don’t get the same emotional fulfillment as their nursing counterparts.

While we never judge – we do not agree.

Why Exclusively Pump Breast Milk?

There are many situations in which exclusive pumping is the best solution for both mom and baby. It’s possible that a baby can’t establish a secure latch, whether because of his or her mouth, or due to the shape and function of the mother’s nipple.

Some babies are born early, in the ICU and/or separated from mom, who can’t nurse as needed.

Some moms have shorter maternity leaves than others and prefer to bottle feed from the beginning as a personal choice. By preparing the baby for mom’s return to work from the start, the transition back to work is less stressful.

There are many other situations where exclusive pumping makes sense. Whatever your specific situation, be confident that it is valid.

Know that the option to pump exclusively is a great one. It ensures that your baby will receive the miraculous nutritional value of breast milk, as well as all its immunological benefits. Exclusively pumping breast milk isn’t something to be ashamed of. Your baby will get the same amount of nutrients from exclusively breast pumping as they would breastfeeding.

Choose to become an exclusive pumping family.

If you are planning to pump exclusively, we suggest you not take sole responsibility for exclusively pumping breast milk.

How you ask? Let us clarify.

Obviously, you are the one with lactating breasts, so you will have to perform the physical pumping. However, you can rely on the language you employed while pregnant.

If you have a partner, did you refer to your pregnancy as a communal one, as in, “we are pregnant; we are having a girl; we are due on January 6?” If so, why not think of yourself as a breast pumping family?

Say things like:

  • “We have chosen to breast pump”
  • “Exclusive pumping works best for us”
  • “We are excited for the lactation consultant appointment”

 You will be amazed at how the simple act of saying this out loud will increase your feelings of receiving support. Positive affirmations work. But don’t just say them. The point is to try and live them. Make your home’s mindset team-oriented one and exclusive pumping will be a breeze.

Understand the time commitment.

Perhaps the most difficult part of exclusive breast pumping—actually, whether you pump exclusively or not— difficult is the time commitment. Instead of a one-step process (latch your baby on your breast and nurse), pumping is a two-step process (bottle feed your baby and pump your breasts directly afterward).

If you count cleaning your breast pump and bottles, it’s actually a three-step process.

Again, remember that if you have a partner (or a roommate or close relative) you are a team and this third step surely can be done by this support network to give you time to rest.

To reiterate, the benefit of exclusive pumping is that, whatever your situation, it is an extremely effective way to get your breast milk to your baby.

So how do you become an exclusive pumping rockstar?

Get a double electric breast pump.

You will need a high-quality double electric pump. Due to the Affordable Care Act, breast pumps are covered at no cost under the majority of insurance policies.

Visit the Byram Healthcare website to check the benefits of your specific policy and the eligible breast pumps therein. Byram offers six of the market’s most popular breast pumps:

Elidgibility will be determined for you once you select your insurance plan. Once you know which breast pump is best for your exclusive pumping needs, the ordering process is straightforward and simple.

Byram will have your new, insurance covered breast pump delivered directly to your doorstep. You can also order breast pump accessories so that you’re completely prepared when your baby arrives.

Practice Patience.

Recall everything we just discussed in our last blog post, Finding Your Breast-Pumping Groove.

Mostly, be kind and patient with yourself.

The first couple of months after birth are an orientation period for all moms, whatever their chosen method of feeding.  The popular Dr. Laura Marks refers to the first six weeks as “survival time.” You need to let your body recover from birth (and pregnancy), initiate lactation, and get used to being a mother and a family.

During the same time, your baby is also experiencing major adjustments. The more you can do to soothe, calm, love, and be consistent, the better the entire feeding experience will be for the whole family.

Exclusive Pumping for a Newborn

Average, healthy newborns nurse 8-12 times daily. Your goal is to match this frequency, exclusively pumping every 2-3 hours (but not exceeding 3 hours).  With an electric double pump, each session should last an average of 20 minutes (any longer and you risk irritation).

In the first couple of weeks, you might also want to pump twice during the night, although this is a personal choice. It has been the suggestion of other pumping mothers in our community, since they were awake anyway due to some steady middle of the night crying.

Following this schedule and duration will help you to establish a good, constant breast milk supply.

Exclusive Pumping at and after the 3-Month Mark

Although it might feel like you’ve been EP-ing forever at this point, this is the time when your supply has established itself. This means you can begin dropping the number of times you’re pumping daily and not see a marked decrease in supply. 

You’re mimicking the way your baby would be nursing and at this point, he or she would begin nursing fewer sessions per day, but for a slightly longer duration.

Also, keep in mind that you and your baby are getting better at this exclusive pumping and eating game and you’re both more efficient. Of course, every woman’s body is different and there are no hard and fast rules for when and how your body will respond.

  • Your supply might be regulated by 2 months.
  • You might have a freezer full of reserve milk by 10 weeks.
  • You could be down to 4 pumps per day by 3 months.

Whatever the case may be, your body is a miraculous machine and it will show you its speed and capability (especially if you’re maintaining presence and patience).

Expressed Milk in Ounces

Babies who consume breast milk take less milk in the bottle than babies who get formula.

Why?

Because breast milk is perfectly designed for a baby. It’s utilized with perfect efficiency and hence, less is required.

However, this efficiency also means it goes through an infant’s body quicker and therefore, he or she will need to eat with greater frequency. 

According to the most current breastfeeding research, exclusively breastfed babies take in an average of 25 oz (750 mL) per day between the ages of 1 month and 6 months. This may vary a little from baby to baby, so it might be more helpful to consider an intake range anywhere between 19-30 oz per day (570-900 mL per day). (http://www.mother-2-mother.com/ExclusivePumping.htm)

Bottle feeding 101

You can easily overfeed a baby using bottles because it requires far less work on the baby’s behalf. Additionally, a baby can’t control the flow of milk through a bottle nipple in quite the same way he or she can at the breast.

Consider the following recommendations:
  • Use slow flow or “newborn” type nipples to reduce the risk of overfeeding.
  • Warm the bottled breast milk under running water or in a specifically purposed bottle warmer. Do not use a microwave. This method can create hot spots that might scald your baby’s mouth. Additionally, microwaves actually alter the composition of the breast milk, decreasing some of the nutrients.
  • The bottle should be offered gently, with the baby drawing the nipple into the mouth.
  • A typical nursing session lasts about 15 to 20 min, and care should be taken to allow baby to take his/her time to drink the bottle, never “rushing” through a feeding as quickly as possible.
  • Changing position mid-way through a feeding is often recommended, as is holding your baby in a more upright position.

If you’re already off on your exclusive pumping journey, go you!

Like we said earlier, the benefit of exclusively pumping breast milk is that—whatever your situation, difficulty, or choice—it is an extremely effective way to get your breast milk to your baby.

Do you have experience with exclusive pumping? Share your wisdom with the community and help our fellow pumping mamas.

And don’t forget to tell your friends and fellow moms-to-be to take advantage of their entitlement to a breast pump covered by insurance!

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