Thinking about Exclusive Pumping? We’ve Got All The Answers

Last Updated: June 10, 2024
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

By Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

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Have you tried to breastfeed and found that it’s not working for you and your family? Exclusive pumping might be a better fit! You can still give your baby ALL the benefits of breastmilk, without the nursing part.

Here we’re going to talk all about exclusive pumping, exclusive pumping schedules, exclusive pumping tips, and where to turn for help so that you can succeed!

If you’re looking for a super comprehensive resource and guide (in a video format!) – The Ultimate Exclusive Pumping course by Milkology might be just the solution you need!

Not sure yet about this whole exclusive pumping thing?

Read on for more info about exclusive pumping and how to get started.

What is exclusive pumping?

Exclusive pumping is the process of exclusively expressing and pumping your breastmilk so that you can bottle feed your baby. There is no feeding done at the breast, but EPers (as they’re called) aim to feed all or mostly breastmilk from the bottle, instead of opting for formula.

Breastmilk is sooo important for your little one. Breast milk is not only EXACTLY what that little body needs, but also a huge booster to immunity because of the antibodies you pass along to your child.

In fact, the most recent recommendation for breastfeeding from the American Academy of Pediatrics is to feed your baby exclusive breastmilk for the first 6 months and continue to keep your baby on breastmilk for as close to 12 months as possible.

For some mamas, bottle-feeding from your exclusive pumping milk supply can actually be better fir for some mamas and babies. Let’s learn more about when this is the case.

Why some mamas do exclusive pumping?

  • Baby is in the NICU
  • Baby was premature and cannot yet latch
  • Pumping and bottle feeding feels more convenient or easier (this is the case for some mamas)
  • Baby has a medical condition preventing them from latching (like a tongue or lip tie, cleft palate or something else)
  • Breastfeeding isn’t working due to past challenges, trauma, or
  • Mom wantd to keep her supply up while figuring out how to get baby back on the breast
  • Mama will be separated from baby for extended periods (but still able to get pumped milk to baby) – this might even be long work hours
  • negative feelings associated with breastfeeding
  • Mama doesn’t want to feed at the breast for ANY reason but still wants to give baby breastmilk

Exclusive pumping tips

There’s no need to fear or feel bad if you want to or have to exclusively pump.

But I’m not gonna lie mama. Choosing to exclusively pump is not an easy endeavor.

It’s going to take time, dedication, and perseverance. But I’ve met SO many mamas who get it done! The benefits of breastmilk are important to these mamas, and exclusive pumping can make it possible when breastfeeding just isn’t working.

10 Exclusive pumping tips

  1. Get a high-quality double electric pump! A good pump is crucial to your success. Many EPers actually rent hospital-grade pumps because they are SO much better at extracting milk than home-use breast pumps. Talk to the lactation staff at your hospital to see if this could be an option for you
  2. More than one pump can make your life easier. Because you’ll be pumping round the clock, having a few different pumps for different applications isn’t necessary, but might be worth it if your budget allows. There are wearable breast pumps like the Freemie Collection Cups, and pumps that are especially great for night pumping like the Motif Luna Breast Pump
  3. Commit to an exclusive pumping schedule that mimics the way baby would naturally breastfeed. This is ESPECIALLY important in the beginning when you are building up your supply (more on exclusive pumping schedules below). SO yeah, pumping every 2-3 hours
  4. Get a great hands free nursing bra (and thank me later) – it’s a must!
  5. Invest in a car adapter for pumping on the go or in parking lots, these are available for most electric pumps
  6. Refrigerate your pumping parts during the day so that you don’t have to wash them after every single pump (but be sure you’re washing them well at least once every 6-8 hours to be safe)
  7. Get a great bottle and pump part drying rack to keep things organized on your counter <– fits up to 16 disassembled bottles!
  8. Have a second set of pump parts in case yours aren’t clean, they get left somewhere, or break in some unexpected way
  9. Use a structured nursing cover to pump around other people (if you’re shy about it) to help make your exclusive pumping experience less lonely and isolating! <– THIS might be one of the most important tips for your mental healthy while EPing, mama
  10. Get support! Whether that’s with an EP class, regularly checking in with a pro-EP lactation consultant, online communities for EP mamas (or all of these things) Don’t go at this alone!
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Exclusive pumping schedule

Basically, if you are choosing to exclusively pump, that means you will need to mimic the feeding schedule of a breastfed baby as closely as possible in order to maximize your supply and output, and keep up with baby’s needs.

This will be especially important for the first 12 weeks. After the 3 month mark, your supply will be established and if exclusive pumping is going well, things will get less intense. It’s at this point that you can start going longer stretches without pumping during the night (HALLELUJAH!). (source).

Newborn exclusive pumping schedule (0-3 months)

If you are starting exclusive pumping from birth, you’ll need to pump within the first 6 hours after your baby is born. After that, you will mimic newborn eating patterns and aim for 8-10 pumping sessions in a 24 hour period.

Kelly Mom recommends the higher end and advises 10 pumping sessions per day to build up and maintain an exclusive pumping supply. One thing they note is that these sessions don’t have to be spaced perfectly evenly.

This means you can give yourself slightly longer breaks between pumping at night. HOWEVER they warn to never go longer than 4-5 hours without pumping.

By about a week to ten days after birth, you should be pumping between 24-27 ounces (or more!) per day as a sign that exclusive pumping is going well.

Older baby exclusive pumping schedules

Once you reach the critical milestone of exclusive pumping for 3 months, and you see a steady supply, you will have a little more freedom with your pumping.

Amanda from Exclusive Pumping (an awesome site by the way!) says EPers should aim for 120 minutes of pumping per day as a guideline.

Take that number of minutes and the recommended times for feeding/pumping at each age below, to make a pumping schedule that works for you (and keep your supply up, of course!).

  • 3-6 Months pumping schedule: 6 to 8 pumping sessions per day (may be able to skip doing one overnight if you do one around 10-11 pm)
  • 6-9 months pumping schedule: similar to 3-6 months, but dropping down to 5-6 sessions may work as your baby gets closer to 9 months. Watch your supply and baby’s eating habits (solids and liquids) as you decrease sessions
  • 9-12 months pumping schedule: As they get closer to a year and eat more solid foods, you can decrease to 4 pumps per day
  • 12+ months pumping schedule: Most mamas drop down to 1-3 sessions for as long as they desire to continue with breastmilk

Exclusive pumping support

funny postpartum meme

As a labor and delivery nurse, we come into contact with a lot of lactation consultants and sometimes even have to mediate between them and the patients, in the case that they have trouble communicating. We see it all the time when a baby has trouble latching, or a mother has significant fears about the physical contact of having a baby latch.

But in these instances, I almost always see formula offered as the solution. And let me be clear – I am 100% for formula if it’s right for you (I supplemented for MOST of my breastfeeding journey with my first). But I think a lot of mamas don’t even realize exclusive pumping is an option because it’s not explained to them.

And taking it on without support or guidance can make it even harder!

That’s why I want to give you some detailed info about one of the ONLY exclusive pumping resources out there: The Ultimate Exclusive Pumping Class by Milkology.

The Ultimate Exclusive Pumping Class by Milkology

The Ultimate Exclusive Pumping Class is an online course about learning to pump exclusively so that you can bottle feed your baby breast milk.

Stacey, the facilitator and creator goes to great lengths to explain the fundamentals behind exclusive pumping to give you all the information and support you could possibly need to succeed in exclusive pumping.

If you’re in the exclusive pumping crowd (or if you just want to know more about pumping to supplement your breastfeeding!), read on!

What will I learn in the Ultimate Exclusive Pumping Class?

In the Ultimate Exclusive Pumping Class, you’ll learn the pumping basics and the nuanced info related to exclusive pumpers specifically:

  • Step-by-step directions on choosing and getting to know your pump
  • The most effective ways to store your milk
  • How to maximize expression
  • Exactly how often and how long you’ll need to pump
  • Tips to stay sane when the pump is driving you crazy
  • What to troubleshoot if your exclusive pumping supply seems low
  • Additional printable content to help you track what you’re getting done
  • Insight into the expression of your milk ducts to create foundational knowledge that leads to success

She takes a considerable amount of time helping you to ensure that you’re gaining in supply, rather than dwindling. She also puts special emphasis on some of the mechanics and problems that can arise.

This extra care and attention is invaluable as you approach this daunting yet beautiful task of feeding your little baby in a way that deviates from the “typical” approach.

I love that Stacey took the time to be so thorough and specific. Not only that, but she also packs in some bonus content, including printables and a troubleshooting guide.

Related Reading: Bottle Feeding Equipment You Need

Related Reading: How to Increase Your Milk Supply — FAST!

What you’ll love about this class

it’s only about an hour from start to finish. If you’re already exclusively pumping for your bottle fed baby, you could EASILY watch the whole thing in one day’s pumping!

The best thing? This amazing class comes at a seriously affordable price, making it easy to access the critical information that will allow you to accelerate into exclusive pumping. It will be no sweat for you to overcome the social anxieties and pressures that exclusive pumpers face in a momlife already rife with judgment.

The special bonuses that come with the Ultimate Exclusive Pumping Class by Milkology include a bonus eBook to act as companion guide and roadmap as you launch into this journey in exclusive expression of breast milk.

You also receive printable pumping signs to help keep unwanted visitors out of eyeshot (EEP!). You also get access to the Ultimate Troubleshooting Guide, which gives you every last detail you may need to consider if you find your supply is lacking.

One thing to be aware of – this course is designed to appeal to (and consistently mesh with) someone who does not want to or cannot breastfeed directly, so it’s not a good fit for someone looking to feed at the breast AND pump (this is a better resource for that).

Mama, you CAN succeed with exclusive pumping

With the tips and info discussed here, and the right support, I know you can do this mama! Exclusive pumping take a huge amount of dedication but more and more mamas are jumping on board.

Exclusive pumping is exclusive breastfeeding! And YOU. CAN. DO. THIS.

Happy exclusive pumping!

Related Reading: Breastfeeding and Thrush

Related Reading: Breastfeeding Tips You Haven’t Heard

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Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

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