Exclusive pumping is something I did for 10 months or more with my first born, a few months with my second, and am now doing after a surrogate pregnancy. While there was a huge lack of support or even knowledge about 6 years ago the first time I did it, it seems to be something people are more aware of now which, thankfully, means there’s more support for moms who are exclusive pumpers.
There was a point in my life that I thought exclusively pumping was easier than breastfeeding. After I found my way back to breastfeeding with my daughter, I no longer feel that way. Exclusively pumping is hard work and can be taxing on the emotional health of moms—life tied to a pump/pumping schedule is no fun—but there are a variety of reasons moms find themselves as EPers and life, as we know, isn’t a one size fits all kind of think.
Related post: Storing Frozen Breast Milk
What is Exclusively Pumping?
Exclusively pumping is when a mother relies on her breast pump—rather than her baby—to express milk and maintain her supply. Except in unique cases—such as mine, being a surrogate—these women are pumping milk for their babies’ consumption.
You may hear this referred to as exclusive pumping, exclusively pumping, or EPing and the moms doing it as exclusive pumpers or EPers.
Lack of EP Awareness
The non-traditional nature of exclusively pumping likely contributes to the lack of widespread knowledge of it. That and many local communities have little to no support of this method for feeding baby.
A close friend of mine was even told by her lactation consultant that it wasn't possible to maintain milk supply that way and, unfortunately, this same advice is often given to other women.
Related Post: Breast Milk Storage Guidelines
Exclusively pumping breast milk for baby is in limbo between the traditional, all natural breastfeeding and formula feeding. Because many women see breastfeeding as a pass/fail or something you either do or don't, they have no idea that this method is even possible.
The reasons women turn to exclusive pumping are numerous and very individualized. Exclusively pumping requires a lot of self-discipline and is something you definitely have to want to do in order to maintain an appropriate milk supply. However, it is a viable alternative to either breastfeeding or formula feeding and there are many moms to stand as proof that it can be done, me included.
Do you know anyone who exclusively pumps? Had you ever heard of it before now?