Stamford Hospital Lactation Staff
What is exclusive pumping vs. breastfeeding?
Exclusive pumping, or EPing, is another form of breastfeeding that deserves more awareness. That means you’re expressing milk from a pump instead of feeding baby at the breast.
Why would a new mom exclusively pump?
- Baby isn’t latching. You tried to nurse—with and without a nipple shield—but latching became a challenge and “forcing it” isn’t worth the stress.
- It works better for you. You’ve decided pumping every few hours and bottle-feeding baby your milk fits well into your daily routine.
- You want baby to have the benefits of breast milk, but nursing isn’t for you: That’s OK. Whether or not you feed baby from the breast is a personal choice. Don’t be shy about reminding others of that, too.
Exclusive pumping isn’t easy. How do I make it more bearable?
We won’t sugarcoat it: exclusive pumping is hard work. Many moms describe the feeling as restrictive or being at the beck and call of a machine. Yet you’re determined to build your supply and nourish your baby in the way you feel is best. Here are some ways to survive exclusive pumping:
- Find the support you need.
- Lactation consultants are here for you. Shortly after you deliver your baby at Stamford Hospital, a lactation nurse will visit your room in the Mother-Baby Unit. She’ll speak to you about your breastfeeding plans, give you helpful tips and show you how to operate a breast pump. If your child is staying in Stamford Hospital's NICU, we offer extra lactation support for families as well as complimentary breast pump usage for the duration of your child’s stay.
- There are resources to guide you in your pumping journey. Consider contacting an organization such as La Leche League International.
- There are closed groups on social media for exclusively pumping moms—don’t be shy about joining and getting the conversation going.
Know your body—know your milk supply and schedule.
Many exclusively pumping moms need to pump roughly every 2-3 hours—or 8 times a day—in order to fully establish their milk supply. We agree, it’s a lot, but that’s how supply and demand works. If at all possible, try to give yourself a 5-hour stretch at night to rest (notice we didn’t say “sleep").
If you’re thinking about dropping the number of pumps per day but want to keep your supply consistent, do so gradually and with the help of a lactation consultant. Every mom’s body works differently.
- Stay hydrated, nourished and well.
While there are studies about the effects of certain teas, grains and supplements that can help to boost milk supply, we prefer to focus on staying hydrated and overall healthy. A healthy, hydrated and happy mom makes for an even happier baby.
- Go hands free.
This is a must. Please do yourself a favor and invest in a hands-free pumping bra. If you’re not sure which bra is compatible with your pump, a simple Google search will tell you. Get at least two of these since you’ll likely get into a cycle of washing them after a few pumping sessions.
This smart decision will allow you to multi-task and is especially crucial for breastfeeding moms returning to work.
Don’t feel like sterilizing the phalanges, tubing and everything that comes with all of it? Your partner, friends or family members want to help in any way. Call upon all visitors to sterilize your pump parts in a microwavable baby bottle sterilizer. There are many inexpensive options.
- Give yourself a pep talk.
It sounds cliché, but you’re really doing great. Just think about it: you’re providing your baby with one of the best gifts. Be kind to yourself.
- It isn't forever.
There will be times when you want to throw all those plastic parts in the recycling bin. Keep telling yourself you’re producing liquid gold and plan your celebration for when your pumping journey ends.
The most important thing to remember is to take care of yourself so you can take care of your baby. If at any point you’re feeling anxious or depressed, please reach out for help.
La Leche League International
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