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Today I am writing to the exclusive pumper.   If you have had a baby and you are in this position, this is for you.

Ok… so I don’t normally share too much about this:  breastfeeding, that is… but some of you know that I often write on my friend’s page: Holly from KidsActivitiesBlog… and today one of her readers was talking about how guilty she felt about not being able to breastfeed.   It struck such a cord for me because I have been there.  I was the mom that no one thinks about, the one that the doctors didn’t ask about, the one that didn’t fit in with the rest of the crowd…  I was the Exclusive Pumping Mom. 

exclusive pumping mom

I wasn’t ‘directly’ breastfeeding and I wasn’t formula feeding… I was the exclusive pumper.  Yes, I pumped and bottled fed two of our children for a year.   I hadn’t planned this.   When I went into the hospital to give birth, I was pretty sure that I was going to be a breast-feeding mom:

My birth plan didn’t say anything about formula or about pumping and bottle feeding:

Instead of that picture-perfect idea that I had, I ended up bottle-feeding our son for 8 months and I bottle-fed our daughter for 12 months.  Our second son was born with hypertonia.  Hypotonia is a muscle weakness and it effects his ability to suck, among other things (like walking, crawling, etc…)  He has extremely high muscle tone (see how he holds himself like that… you could hold him with one finger and he wouldn’t have moved).

The good, the bad & the ugly about pumping exclusively:


  • Our children were getting breastmilk.
  • I made more milk than anyone I knew (at least 20-32 ounces in a 15 minute session)… not to worry, this eventually moves down to the ugly list. 
  • Mickey was able to help feed him.
  • I had enough milk stored by 6 months that I could stop pumping (this moves down to the ugly list, too, when I find out that he is allergic to what I was eating & had to throw it all out).


  • I literally felt like a feeding machine.  Like laugh if you want to, but it was the truth.  I was putting milk into containers for someone to drink later.
  • If you spill that milk, you will be the most unhappy mom in the world for the next two minutes while you realize that you just lost a whole feeding and have to really work hard to make it up.  Liquid gold.
  • You have to keep it refrigerated.  If we were out, we had to take a cooler, because I had to refrigerate the milk somehow after I pumped it.
  • I hated having to excuse myself to go pump.   How do you explain that?  I wasn’t taking a baby with me… nope… just a machine.  It was embarrassing.  I don’t know why, but it was.
  • Everyone pumps in the hospital, but knowing that I had to do it at home was daunting…  Which pump do I buy?   How often do I pump?  What if I get mastitis? (I did…)Looks like he’s figuring it out for Mom. ♥ lol!  He thought the pump went on your belly button!pumper


  • I was disappointed.  I didn’t expect it to not work out.  I felt so alone.  So very very alone.   I actually feel into a mini-depression and I know that this was part of the reason.   I couldn’t hold our babies while I pumped.  I would wake up at 3:00 am to feed our baby and then stay away for 30 more minutes after I got them back to sleep and pump… and cry.   You are already so vulnerable after you have a baby, but then to sit alone, in the dark, in the middle of the night and pump was terrible.    Facebook was just starting and I don’t think I was even on it yet.    I just sat, in our bathroom and pumped.
  • I made SO MUCH MILK that it was very painful if I didn’t pump.  I was taking medicine to lower my supply and using cabbage to reduce the pain.   I couldn’t even donate it, because of the vitamins that I was taking to help our son.

So… to the exclusive pumper out there… I know just how you are feeling.
baby allie

Here are some tips that might help:

1- YOU ARE FEEDING YOUR BABY!!!!   That is what matters!   YAY FOR YOU!  Be happy about that (my first tip) 

2- Get a GOOD pump!!   Don’t skimp on this.  It makes all the difference!  Really.  Here is the one that I wished I would have bought.  I wouldn’t have had to sit in my chair or on the floor, because this one gives you the freedom to move around.   That would have been so great! (It is a little pricey, but if you are exclusively pumping, it will save you hours and hours.  Coming from someone that does not spend a lot… this is where you need to splurge.)

3- When you first start out, you want to build up your supply. Pump every 2-3 hours for the first 3 months (even at night).  Soon you can back off, a lot.  By about three months, I was pumping twice a day and getting the same amount.  By 6 months, I was down to once a day (I had a lot of milk, so this probably isn’t the norm).

4- Buy a nursing cover.   I pumped in the car while Mickey drove, I pumped in public restrooms, etc…  I always just used my nursing cover.  You can get one free here with the code YMF4: 
free nursing cover
5- Buy a nursing tank top.  Wear it under your clothes.  It makes life so much easier.
nursing tank top

Do you know the crazy part?   By the time that Allie came along, I made a decision to do both- she could have done either, but I chose to do both, because I saw how it made things easier.  Hindsight is 20/20, right?
I pumped for her the majority of the time, but she also breastfed at times.   By 8 months, I was exclusively pumping for her one time a day (it was enough to cover her feedings) and my mindset had completely changed.

I think that it kind of boils down to the WHY.   I had to pump for Beau, because he couldn’t nurse…  that’s why it was so hard on me, emotionally… the worry that came with it.   By the 4th baby, I knew that pumping once a day was going to be more convenient than nursing four times a day, so I was able to choose that.   With all things in life, it boils down to the why…  and it boils down to what REALLY matters.

What really matters here?  You are feeding your sweet, precious baby~ no matter how you do it, you are doing it and THAT is what matters. ♥


done having babies

wake at night

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. Thanks for the story. I pumped for my daughter once she refused to breastfeed at 6 months for 6 months and for my son from day 1 as he as a lazy feeder and would take an hour per feed. I pumped 10-12 times per day for him and twice each night! The pump was my best friend for an entire year – my son decided he’s done with breast milk (and any milk) at 13 months at which point I donated my well used medela freestyle pump 🙂 I’m just happy that I was able to do it for that long! I never had the issue of oversupply – even pumping every 2hrs and taking countless supplements to increase my breast milk, I could only pump for the next feed. I recall very well once when I felt down the stairs carrying the freshly expressed milk to close the bottle – milk was gone but I also ended up in the hospital with almost broken rib 🙂 thanks again for reminding me of how much we do fr our babies!

      1. Thanks for your story! Every exclusive pumper has a different story, but it is very nice to hear there are people doing what you are. I exclusively pumped for 11 months. I pumped 10-12 times per day for the first 5 months. I started out as an under supplier who needed to supplement with formula. by the time Teagan was 3 months old I made just enough for him. If we lost/spilled a bottle it meant a run to the pharmacy for formula and a screaming hungry baby. Teagan ate all the time and it was very hard to keep up with him 35 oz a lot of days (and he is still tiny 30th percentile for weight). I started the weaning process at 10 months because we are pregnant with baby #2 and the doctor told me I couldn’t keep feeding the 3 of us. I gave Teagan 1 breastmilk bottle a day and froze the rest so I could make it to a year giving 1 bottle a day. All you need to get the full benefit of breastmilk is 3oz.

  2. Thank you SO much for this!! I have always felt so strange for exclusively pumping since it isn’t the norm! But this made me feel so much better! I’m at 4 months of exclusive pumping and I had a HUGE oversupply like you in the first few months and now I still make an extra bottle or two per day! I’m hoping to make it to the full year mark! I’m still trying to figure out how to possibly get colostrum when my baby is sick like you can while nursing but otherwise I have no complaints! It’s an extra step than just breastfeeding, but I’m so happy she still gets breastmilk even after we couldn’t breastfeed!

  3. Thank you for sharing! My son is 6 weeks and just wont latch- after many lactation consultants, tools and vices we’ve been exclusively pumping with one feeding supplemented per day. I absolutely hate pumping, especially at night when I could be sleeping… but you’re right- I’m feeding a tiny human and I’ve got this!

  4. I am currently an exclusive pumper and just hit my 5 month mark, I gave a huge stash built up and am hoping to wean down to just two pumps a day after 6 months. How long did you pump for each session when you went down to two or one session? I currently pump for 20 minutes each session.

    1. I can’t remember exactly how long, but I think around 20 minutes; then when I started to wean, I decreased the time by just a minute or two every week. Pretty soon I stopped producing so much & it just happened naturally.