Some mothers do not breastfeed, but still want to feed nutritious breast milk to their baby. This is known as exclusive breast pumping or “breastfeeding without nursing.” Whether you feed your baby from the breast or give them expressed breast milk exclusively via a breast pump, there is only one important thing. You’re trying to give your baby the maximum health benefit and immune protections of your breast milk.

Exclusive breast pumping can have a few special challenges. Pumping breast milk does not always give moms the same feeling of emotional connection with their babies, and it can be harder to produce enough milk without the baby stimulating the flow of milk. Also, exclusively breast pumping moms often have to make some special efforts to keep their milk supply up and maintain a positive mindset.

With that in mind, here are a few questions that exclusively breast pumping moms might commonly ask.

What is the Best Pump to Buy?

If you’re going to exclusively breast pump, it is important to have the right equipment and establish the right frame of mind. Don’t worry about what others think and don’t feel like you have to explain your decision about breastfeeding. The only people who matter are you and your baby.

Medela pumps are an excellent choice for breast pumping moms because of their special 2-Phase Expression technology, which mimics the natural sucking behaviour of a baby. Since babies switch from fast to slow rhythm during each nursing session, Medela’s breast pumps’ 2-Phase Expression technology helps draw milk out of the breast, like an actual baby. The Medela hospital grade Symphony breast pump or Freestyle are great choices.

How Do I Increase My Breast milk Supply?

One challenge for exclusively breast pumping moms is managing to maintain a good supply of breast milk. There are a few techniques and tips that moms should use to make sure you’re getting the most milk out of every pumping session.

You can pump more frequently and pump both breasts simultaneously. Most exclusively breast pumping moms pump breast milk for 2 hours per day. You might need to add an extra pumping session, or make your existing pumping sessions a bit longer. But try not to pump too much – more than 3 hours of breast pumping per day starts to become impractical and too exhausting.

While there isn’t a lot of research on this, a mom can boost milk supply by simulating the behaviour of a cluster-feeding baby, with “power pumping.” This means you pump on and off for an hour, starting with 20 minutes of pumping followed by 10 minutes of rest, then another 10 minutes of pumping and 10 minutes of rest. You finish the hour with a final 10-minute pumping session. You can combine your power pumping session with a fun activity like reading or watching TV. The idea is that the more you relax, the more likely you are to produce plenty of breast milk.

How Do I Make the Pumping Process Easier?

Here are a few ways to make your life easier and more comfortable as an exclusively breast pumping mom: Check out this article on how to choose the best breast pump for your lifestyle.

*Buy an extra set of parts for your breast pump – this way you can save time on washing, drying and assembling the various tubes and nozzles.

*Talk to a lactation consultant: If you have any discomfort or questions about breast milk supply or other aspects of pumping breast milk, talk to a lactation consultant in your area. There are many ways that lactation consultants can help you feel more comfortable and confident about breast pumping. It could be as simple as adjusting the size of the flange or changing your daily breast pumping routine.

How Do I Look After Baby if Exclusively Pumping by Choice?

One of the challenges of being an exclusively breast pumping mom is that you need to produce milk at a different time than the baby feeds. The baby is not at your breast, so you need to keep an eye on the baby at the same time that you’re pumping milk. If the baby is not at the breast, you are often going to be pumping while they are awake, wriggling, playing or crying.

Try putting the baby in a swing, bouncer or baby seat. Or hold the baby on your lap or in the bend of your leg while sitting together on the floor. Perhaps you can let your baby sit and play on the floor with some of her favourite toys while you sit nearby and pump breast milk. There are many ways you can find some quiet time while still keeping your baby close. Once your baby is crawling and walking, you might need to wall off a special “breast pumping room” or breast pumping sanctuary with a closed door or baby gate. This allows your baby to roam free within a confined area where you can keep them within your sight. Also, being closer to baby and hearing and smelling them might help with milk flow.

Also, most importantly: be sure to get plenty of help! Exclusive breast pumping creates certain challenges that are different from breastfeeding. You will need to have the support of your partner, relatives, friends and colleagues to make it work. But with determination and care, you’ll hopefully find that exclusive breast pumping can be a comfortable and manageable part of your life.

Are you an exclusive breast pumping mom? What tips or techniques would you offer? Leave a comment and let us know, or join the discussion on our Medela Canada Facebook page.

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