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The Realities of Pumping Exclusively

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Pumping exclusively… ugh. Is there anyone who can honestly say that it’s an enjoyable experience?

I haven’t met a single mom who has enjoyed the experience.

There are many reasons women choose to exclusively pump breastmilk for their babies and to enjoy the experience is not one of them.

I breastfed my first until he self-weaned at ten months old. I planned on at least attempting to do the same thing with my twins.

The idea of exclusively pumping was not one that even crossed my mind because my breastfeeding experience with my first was so easy.

I believe that the choice to feed your baby is deeply personal. There are so, SO many factors, and nobody knows what you’re going through except for you. 

I want to encourage you to make your choice and be a champion for yourself. 

If you want to push through and continue nursing even under extremely hard circumstances, all the power to you.

If you want to both breastfeed and pump (<– here is a fantastic resource to help you set up a schedule to do that!), go for it.

If you choose to stop breastfeeding and formula feed your baby, that is your choice and it is just as great of a choice as breastfeeding.

If you choose to pump exclusively, that is also a great choice, and possibly the choice that’s the most work.

pumping exclusively

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Why I Pumped Exclusively

My twins were born almost two months prematurely. Their first feedings were from feeding tubes and then they graduated to bottle.

I did breastfeed them a few times in the NICU, but they were really too weak to nurse efficiently. Each time I nursed them, they would get too tired and fall asleep and have to receive the rest of their feeding via a feeding tube.

Once we got home, they were still too sleepy and weak to nurse.

I tried a few times, but it ended up with all 3 of us crying and my husband running to prepare bottles as fast as he could.

We switched to giving them bottles of pumped breastmilk. I always planned on trying again once they reached their due date, but by then they were really close to sleeping through the night and we had a great routine established.

I didn’t want to change anything.

Struggling with breastfeeding but really want to make it work? –> Check out these super affordable online breastfeeding classes!

Why Pumping Exclusively is So Hard

In my opinion, pumping exclusively combines the hardest parts of formula feeding and breastfeeding.

I’m not writing this to scare anyone who plans on pumping. Many moms aren’t able to breastfeed, or they work full time, so they choose to exclusively pump.

I just want you to know that it is a lot of work. I’ve heard many people casually say “Oh, just switch to pumping.”

It’s not as simple as that. I want you to be prepared for the amount of work that’s necessary to exclusively pump.

Read –> My Essential Guide to Exclusive Pumping

Pumping Exclusively Requires So Much Time

In order to keep your supply up, you need to pump every 3-hours.

Babies also need to eat every 3-hours.

You can do the math on that and figure out there’s not much time for eating, sleeping, showering, or really anything else other than pumping and feeding.

You Have to Wash a Million Pump Parts and Bottles.

Remember how I said you need to pump AND feed your baby every 3-hours?

On top of that, you need to wash your pump parts and bottles. So really, your life consists of pumping, feeding, and washing bottles.

Leaving the House is So Much Work

Leaving the house requires packing bottles, ice packs to keep the milk from going bad, and a way to warm the bottles.

If you’re leaving for more than a few hours, you also need to bring your pump and pump supplies.

Whenever we offered my singleton a bottle, he drank it directly out of the fridge. My twins wouldn’t drink them cold, so it was really hard to give them a bottle when we were out of the house.

Supply Issues

It’s much harder to keep up a supply of breastmilk when you’re exclusively pumping than when you’re putting baby directly on your breast.

It’s possible, just harder requires a bit more work.

Read –> Why I’m Not Upset That I Failed at Breastfeeding My Twins <– for more thoughts on my failed breastfeeding journey.

Why I Didn’t Switch to Formula

Since my girls were premies, I wanted them to get all of the health benefits of breast milk.

Formula is also SO expensive and I wanted to avoid that cost if possible.

We did end up switching to formula at around 9 months.

By that point, my supply started to dry up and the amount of milk I was getting wasn’t worth the hassle to me anymore. I was so exhausted and so sick of pumping by that point.

OK, now that I have told you all of my woes and how hard it is to exclusively pump, I want you to know that you can do it!

All of the brilliant mamas of the BFBN are writing on the topic of breastfeeding this week. Check the blog daily for all of the posts!

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