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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

For Exclusive Pumpers

When I was a new breastfeeding mom with latching problems and contemplating exclusive pumping, I was told by one of the lactation consultants I met with that choosing to exclusively pump would lead to a short-lived breastfeeding career. As I grew older (in terms of breastfeeding years!) and wiser, I realized that it IS possible to exclusively pump long-term and I have developed a high regard for exclusively pumping moms.

My own sister-in-law exclusive pumped for 6 months for her son. I have known other mothers who have exclusively pumped for 1 year or more for their babies. There is even a group for exclusive pumpers (or EP-ers). When acquaintances and clients ask me if it is still possible to breastfeed exclusively even without latching, I tell them YES but it takes hard work. Exclusively pumping would mean pumping at least 8x a day, waking up at night even when your baby is asleep, purchasing and using a good quality pump and keeping to the schedule no matter what. I also advise them to read relevant websites and inspiring blogs.

Recently, an article about increasing number of exclusive pumpers came out in TIME. Tanya of the Motherwear blog pointed out some items that needed clarifying - such as same health benefits and bottle feeding issues. For moms who rarely pump and are able to be stay at home moms and directly nurse their babies, fiddling with the pump and taking time to pump and clean the paraphernalia is tedious and time-wasting. However, as a work-out-of-home mom who started with pumping 4x a day at work, I realized that once the routine is established, setting up and cleaning pump parts becomes automatic, leading to less time needed as mom becomes more practiced.

I do think agree with the article that a major reason for the surge in exclusively pumping moms would also be the wide availability of pumps and the marketing efforts by the pump manufacturers. And as emphasized by Tanya, good information and help is essential as well as support for moms who are contemplating exclusive pumping.


Melodie said...

There needs to be more info and support for EP'ers, I think. Good work Jenny!

janaemadsen said...

I pumped exclusively for one year with my first baby- I never really felt like I fit in with the breastfeeding moms or the bottle moms but I'm glad I did it.

HauteSingleMama said...

Great post!

I have been exclusively pumping for my former preemie for 8 1/2 months. I pumped for him from day 1 - he was born at 29 weeks gestation. He got his first drops of colostrum about a week after his birth through a tube, and continued eating through a tube for weeks. We tried to establish nursing, but the lack of knowledge on the part of the hospital lactation consultants about preemies was astounding. I was told "He's just small, when he's bigger he'll get it" when I pointed out his shallow latch, and I was not told about alternative options to bottles (like a SNS, used after pumping so it was still possible to precisely calculate his intake when that was crucial).

Getting him to breast was something I longed to do and worked hard at, but it never happened for us. It became too frustrating, and I quit trying just a few months ago.

I'm completely committed to feeding him breast milk for at least one year, though. Exclusively pumping hard work, and really should only be turned to as a last resort.

Jenny said...

@Melodie - thanks for the tweet!
@janaemadsen & hautesinglemama - kudos for getting through the year. it definitely is not easy, especially if people around you are not at all supportive and will tell you that only direct BF works and you cannot sustain EP-ing

Khaye said...


Khaye said...

Hi there!

This is a really good read. And you have a very insightful blog.

I am a full-time lawyer and mother, I express milk by the day and directly nurse at night. And I'm learning a lot from your blog.

Hope you can visit mine too, although I have just started~

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