Exclusively Pumping Guide: increase milk supply, pumping tips, schedules & more

Guide to exclusively pumping; how to increase milk supply while pumping, pumping schedules/routines, pumping tips to pump effectively, pumping must haves and solving common pumping problems.

I pumped for my first son, Suleiman for a little over a year. I was pumping from day one out of the hospital. My son was born at 36 weeks gestation. He was labelled as a late preterm baby. Which was part of why he had difficulty latching. He couldn't latch and he had difficulty coordinating his suckle and swallow. I would try to latch him for 10 mins, pump for 15-20 mins and offer him a supplement of pumped milk or formula. That cycle would repeat all day and night. It was tough. 

I hired multiple lactation consultants and spent a great deal of money learning all that I could to try to get my son to nurse from me, but it wasn't working. We tried the above schedule for 4 months, before I decided to stop trying to latch and to exclusively pump. It was, in our circumstance, better for my sanity (due to feeling really down about the constant feeling of being rejected trying to latch) and for him to still be breastfed, just in a different way. We were both much happier with that.

Through that year, I learned a lot about breastfeeding and pumping. I learned how to exclusively pump effectively. How to increase milk supply exclusively pumping through natural products and even a prescription for a brief period of time.

How to Pump

Start by lubricating, this was something that helped prevent blisters and blebs. I used coconut oil, but lanolin or any edible oil works. 

Measure your nipples to ensure that you are using the correct flange size. This can some times differ between each breast.

Attach your flange by centering your nipple to the middle of the flange. 

Turn on stimulation mode on your pump. This mimics a baby and brings on the letdown. About a minute in time.

Once there is an active letdown, turn the pump to expression mode. Set at a comfortable setting. A higher suction is not necessarily better and can even cause bruising! Comfort is king with pumping.

Pump for 15-20 mins on each side. I recommend a double breast pump. A single pump will make the total session 30-40 minutes, which is definitely exhausting.

Turn the pump off and detach the pump. Use a washcloth to clean your chest, this should prevent thrush. Make sure you're wearing breastpads in the first 3 months and change them often to also prevent thrush.

Pumping schedule or routine.

This is how to set up your exclusively pumping schedule for maximum milk output. The general guideline is to try to keep the total time of pumping to 3hrs in a 24hr period. The more hours, the more milk. In the first three months, before milk regulates, I would recommend pumping for 10-12 sessions of 15 mins each in a 24hr time period.

Breastmilk Storage and Handling.

Breastmilk is a food and should be treated as such. That means ensuring that it is stored in the correct containers, combined only at fridge safe temperature, only warmed up once, removing all air before freezing and keeping a good eye on expiration times. Breastmilk can stay out for 4hrs freshly expressed, 3 days in the fridge, 3-6 months in a regular freezer or 6 plus months in a deep freeze.

How to choose the right breast pump?

Finding the correct pump is important when trying to exclusively pump. The right pump for your body should mimic the suckle of a baby. In my experience, that was the Spectra pump. The Medela pump was way too forceful and created a lot of pumping issues. I would look into pumps and read several reviews before purchasing. Making sure the pump you choose offers a wide range in flange sizes, that it is adaptable to other pump parts (like pumping pals flanges or the bottle brand you're using for baby), ensuring it has a good motor life (it should be hospital grade) and that it has backflow protectors to ensure the pump doesn't end up damaged while pumping.

Pumping While Nursing- How to build a milk supply stash.

I recommend pumping after you've nursed. The best time would be after nursing in the morning. You can also use an Elvie pump or Silicone Pump like the Haakaa to pump while you nurse to save on time.

How to Pump Effectively - Exclusively Pumping Tips.

  • Try to relax when you pump
  • Warming your chest before pumping
  • Lubricating before pumping
  • Hands on pumping
  • Leaning forward slightly
  • Replacing pump parts regularly
  • Pump at the right times

Pumping Dilemmas - solving common pumping or breastfeeding issues

  • nipple blisters & milk blebs
  • clogged or plugged milk ducts
  • mastitis

How to Increase Milk Supply

  • fenugreek (not advised for women with thyroid issues)
  • goats rue 
  • nutritional yeast
  • brewers yeast 
  • sunflower lecithin powder
  • oats
  • flaxseeds
  • hemp hearts
  • chia seeds

If all else fails, domperidone (speak to your doctor)

How to Power Pump.

how to power pump: pump 15 mins, rest 10, pump 10 mins, rest 10 mins and final pump 10 mins

Pump 15 mins, rest 5-10 mins, pump 10 mins, rest 5-10 mins, pump 10 mins, rest 5-10 mins and pump the last 10 mins.

I recommend trying this during your pumping session with the lowest milk output (usually in the evening time)