Exclusively Breast feeding is a choice that many mothers will make. Each of us have our own struggles and there is no right way to feed your child. You as their mother get to choose what is best. Sometimes due to medial problems or other factors you have no control over you may be forced into a particular choice. Just know, no matter what other people say, you are doing what is best for you and your baby. There are so many pros and cons of exclusively pumping. If this is something you are considering I hope that this post can help make that choice a little easier.
Why Exclusively Pump?
There are so many reasons why you might choose to exclusively pump.
- Your baby is in the NICU and breastfeeding is delayed for some time
- You work a demanding job or for other reasons you are away from your baby frequently
- You are having difficulties with latching
- Congenital conditions that make breastfeeding challenging or not possible
- Your baby is having trouble gaining weight
- You have had some personal trauma that makes breastfeeding triggering
- You simply don’t like breastfeeding but still want your child to get breastmilk
- You just want to!
At the end of the day, any reason is a good reason if it works for you and your family. It’s really no one else’s business.
Pros and Cons
The following are some of the pros and cons of exclusively pumping. I want you to make the best decision for you. I want you to feel confident about your choice so when you are in the thick of it you will be able to keep going. Whether you choose breastfeeding or pumping it is hard. You will need to be confident in your choice to keep going when times get tough, and you just don’t want to clean another bottle. So here are some factors to consider.
- Someone else can help you with feedings
- You can go back to work and still feed your baby breastmilk
- Know how much your baby is actually eating
- Less Painful
- More flexibility/freedom – you can be away from the baby for longer periods of time or possibly longer or shorter duration between pumping periods. You choose
- Better monitor your supply over time – can act more quickly when your supply is dropping
- No Biting (your pump doesn’t have teeth)
- Prepared for emergencies – if you are on a medication that is not safe for baby (for a short period of time) or hospitalized you can have stored milk to give in the mean time
- Lots of cleaning! I mean a lot!
- Expensive – there are a lot of supplies needed
- Time consuming (~120 minutes a day will be spent pumping)
- Can be uncomfortable
- Always have to have your pump with you
- Lack of Privacy – hard to find places to pump out in public
- Hard to manage pumping if you have other kids at home as well
- lack of immune boost – If your baby isn’t breast feeding your body will not detect baby is sick and typically won’t produce the right immune boost specific to their needs
What Supplies Do I Need?
So you’ve made the choice to exclusively pump. That is awesome! I want you to feel prepared to succeed. Here are the pumping essentials you will need.
Your insurance is required by law to cover the cost of a breast pump for FREE without co-pays. This is for all insurance plans including Medicaid (except for a few grandfathered plans). Not all plans will let you purchase a pump. Some plans may only allow for you to rent a pump. There may also be some specifics about what kinds of pumps they will cover. If a pump is not covered by your insurance, but you can’t live without it many plans will cover a portion of the cost. You will then have to cover the rest of the cost. My advice is get one that you want, because you will be using it A LOT!
Preparation is the key to success. Having extra part for your pump not only saves you time, but if something breaks you aren’t out of luck. I personally like to have a manual pump as a backup just incase. Having extra parts also allows you to have a little more flexibility when it comes to cleaning.
Pumping bras are game changers if you want to be hands free. They hold your flanges where they need to be so you can have your hands available to fold the unending amounts of laundry, read a book, scroll social media, or really whatever you need to do.
Extra bottles will help you store your breast milk while you are away from home. This will allow you to go for longer periods of time away from your baby. I prefer to just put my milk into storage bags because they take up less space, but you do what works for you. If you are trying to limit your plastic exposure try these silicone storage bags.
While you are away from home you will need a safe place to store that pumped milk. It will allow you to store it in the fridge at work while appearing inconspicuous, or if you don’t have a fridge available you can keep it cool for the whole day. This cooler is really cute and affordable.
The last thing you want is to leak through your shirt at work or out and about. I prefer the reusable pad because they are more comfortable and can be washed and used again. If that is not your thing check these out.
If you are just trying to get through the day or planning on building a freezer stash of milk you will need storage bags. Probably lots of them!
After you sit down and go through your pros and cons talk with some other moms who have already done it. If you don’t know anyone find support group or Facebook group where you can ask real people how they felt about exclusively pumping. You may have gone through all the pros and cons of exclusively pumping but hearing someone’s real experience with it might be just what you need. At the end of the day it’s your choice. I hope you feel empowered to make the right choice for you. You can do this!
Jess is a registered nurse with over 6+ years of critical care experience for patients young and old and is the mother of two small children. After having her own children she felt inspired to provide mothers with real actionable guidance and education to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy and postpartum experience.