What is Exclusively Pumping?
Updated: Mar 16, 2021
What is exclusively pumping?
In short terms, it describes parents who choose to feed their baby exclusively with pumped breast milk. They may supplement with formula but their goal is to provide as much bottled breast milk as possible. This is because breast milk is the most natural food for a baby and has a host of beneficial ingredients that's why you'll often hear it nicknamed 'liquid gold'.
What do I need to exclusively pump?
The bare basics, you will need; a double breast pump, some bottles and a steriliser.
There are definitely more items you can add to your kit to make life easier but more on that topic in next weeks' blog.
How much will I pump a day?
At the beginning of your journey, you'll want to be emptying your breasts as much as possible (pumping every 2-3 hours for 15-20 minutes a time). Your tremendous efforts are so important in the beginning as this will establish your prolactin levels (the hormone that makes milk). It's hard work but hugely rewarding. You're making milk for your baby and that baby is thriving because of your hard work. Try and find the positives wherever you can, I love catching up with friends, socials or a show (at the moment, it's This Is Us on Amazon Prime). A memorable schedule for you to set alarms for is 3, 6, 9, 12 roughly around the clock. After approximately 3 months you'll be able to go longer between pumps. I will also explain about dropping pumps in another blog.
What do I tell health professionals?
It'll be common for your Midwife or Health Visitor to ask you if you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding. I'd tell them the truth, say both. Elaborate with an explanation that you're exclusively pumping and explain how you'd consider it a hybrid of both breastfeeding (because you're supplying milk) and bottle feeding (you're doing all the washing up and sterilising that comes with). That way you'll come across knowledgable and confident in your choice. That attitude demands respect and will ease criticism or unsolicited advice, which all new parents will wish to avoid I'm sure. Some professionals will have heard of EP-ing and some may not have. It's not common but that doesn't make it wrong - always remember that.
Why have some people not heard of exclusively pumping?
Exclusively pumping isn't often spoken about in the UK and if it is, it's often thought of as a pump to give daddy a bottle or a pump to give baby a bottle whilst mum returns to work. I found when speaking about this method of feeding, lots of people don't think to do it full time. The conversation is more recognised in the US. This could be due to a few reasons, their health care system is different to the NHS so pumps can be included in health insurance to help with costs but mainly exclusively pumping occurs because women have different maternity packages unlike the UK statutory system. Our American sisters often have to go back within a few weeks/months and so pumping at work to provide milk for their baby is what they choose to do. Any overseas readers please feel free to inform me more on why you feel EP-ing is a little more common. We need to learn as much as possible to make it more common in the UK.