How to Support Exclusively Pumping Moms Part II: Interview with International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Brittany Hunt

Wow- Do we have an amazing opportunity today to learn from a lactation expert and someone who I truly respect – Brittany Hunt, IBCLC. Brittany is my go-to expert for all of the advanced lactation questions my clients have. She is also the person who I referred to my own family when someone close to me needed expert guidance.


I was doing research on my article on exclusive pumping and ran into a major challenge. A lot of the information out there was focused on deterrents to breastfeeding. So the researchers spent a lot of time discussing pumping as a detriment to breastfeeding.


I have worked with a lot of moms who elect to exclusively pump. I have witnessed a lot of success. And I knew that I needed to step into the void and find good information that will help me to better serve parents and offer a bit of representation for families who exclusively pump. Brittany answered the call. She has answered some of the most common questions we get on this topic.


When should a mom who plans to exclusively pump begin and what might her routine look like, assuming there are no contraindications?

If a mom is planning to exclusively pump, she should begin expressing milk as soon as possible after baby or babies are born. Routines greatly vary from mom to mom, depending on goals, number of babies and milk supply. Moms of newborns should be prepared to pump 10x per day, while moms with older babies will likely be pumping fewer times per day.


I’ve been reading about bottle feeding and how it affects a baby’s satiety cues. What can you tell me about the way we bottle feed and how we can help babies to not overeat?

I love to teach parents a bottle feeding technique called “Paced Bottle Feeding.” The Paced Bottle Feeding technique is based on the premise of slowing the flow of the milk and best mimicking the flow of the breast. To utilize a Paced Bottle Feed, all parents or caregivers who are feeding bottles should hold the bottle almost horizontally to the ground with the milk filling about half the nipple. Every few minutes, they should gently tip the bottle down. Baby should stop suckling after a few seconds for a break. Once baby resumes suckling, the bottle should be returned to a horizontal position. This technique allows babies to realize they are full and stop eating.


Some moms elect to exclusively pump but a lot of moms also are pumping because they are separated from their infant during long hospital stays. Two things that parents tell me are that they want to transition back to feeding at the breast and that it’s hard to make milk without having that regular physical contact with their baby. What can these parents do to feel connected and increase their success with pumping and reconnecting after the hospital stay?

Being separated from your baby for any length of time or reason is heartbreaking. If a mom wants to provide breastmilk during this time, she should work with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) to establish a pumping schedule that will help her supply the milk her baby needs. Other tips include skin to skin (as soon as it is safe), practicing eating at the breast (as soon as it is safe), having tube fed babies suck on a pacifier while being fed (some studies have shown that transition to the breast may be easier) and taking lots of pictures and videos of the baby to look at or watch while she’s pumping.

Another topic that I have been reading about is language and inclusivity. What terminology should we be using to discuss breastfeeding in the context of parents who may be pumping?

It’s 2018. Breastfeeding no longer simply means feeding a baby directly at the breast. Families can and should familiarize themselves with terms like “breastmilk fed” which often refers to a baby who’s parent is exclusively pumping or “chest feeding” which is a trans man who is nursing his baby. You may also hear “human milk” as an alternative to “breast milk.” Sometimes, same-sex female couples will choose to both nurse their baby and the non-carrying mother will induce lactation.


Can you give a short list of the of experts already doing this well? Think scholars, people who have worked on the frontlines for years, products that moms rave about, and more. Note what they are doing already that is working well.

Locally, Dr. Kathleen McCue, at Metropolitan Breastfeeding in Bethesda, has been helping parents induce lactation for years. Her inclusive practice has worked with same-sex couples, trans-women, adoptive mothers, and mothers with gestational carriers achieve their breastfeeding goals. She also is amazing at helping women with all types of more common breastfeeding problems.


My top 3 must-have products for an exclusively pumping mom include The Supermom  Bra, Medela Symphony, and Dr. Brown bottles.


Can you contrast two cases: If something failed for one client, and flourished for another, what made for the difference?

I would highly recommend all mothers who are dependent on a pump to use a high-end hospital grade pump, like the Medela Symphony. This specific pump is designed to maintain lactation, whereas most other pumps available on the market are engineered for occasional expression (1-3x per week). This simple solution, in conjunction with sufficient breast stimulation, is where I see the biggest difference between making enough milk and needing to supplement with formula.


Last question(!) Can you share your best advice for moms who want to EP for the first year or more? What can they do to endure and thrive beyond the first days or weeks?

Exclusively pumping for any length of time can be difficult. I encourage mom to do small things that will make their pumping journey easier. Get multiple sets of pump parts so you’re not always washing. Get a car adapter so you’re not confined to your house. Use your time pumping to rest and have some “me” time. My best advice is to get in touch with an IBCLC as soon as possible to help you come up with a custom pumping schedule that will help you establish and maintain a sufficient milk supply.


Learn more about Brittany over on he website – Cherry Blossom Babies. You can also inquire about working with Brittany directly by filling out her contact form.


If you’re looking for more advice, research, and tips keep an eye on Instagram where resources are added regularly.

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