How to Survive Burnout From Exclusive Pumping

Don’t let pumping drain you! Simple survival tips for how to survive burnout from exclusive pumping.

How to Survive Burnout From Exclusive Pumping

Pumping is hard. Sometimes you just want to stop because it’s 2am and you’re sleep deprived but your supply has been dropping so you can’t skip a session and you just feel hopeless. I want to start off by saying to all my breastfeeding moms out there, what you do is absolutely incredible, and you are allowed to hate it. You are so amazing for what you do, whether you breastfed for a day, or over a year! I know you hear it a lot and it might not feel true. But trust me, isn’t not easy to breastfeed and you are a champion for even trying!

Now I haven’t loved my breastfeeding journey. I see post from moms talking about how they’re two years into their journey with no end in sight. I feel guilty because I dream about the day I’m done. Emotionally, I never want to stop. But physically and mentally, I have to drag myself along.

I feel all too often we forget to talk about burnout. How do you handle it? Can you recover from it? Am I a bad mom for feeling this way? How do I know when it’s the end?

Pumping burnout is very real

It might hit early into your EP journey or it might be months into it. But when it does hit, it can make you feel overwhelmed and hopeless. But if you’re not ready to quit, there is things you can do to power through it.

Read stories of NICU babies

For me, this one really does it. In the middle of the night when I can’t do it anymore. When I just want to throw my pump out the window and never look back , I read those stories. I let it remind me of why I pump. As a milk donor, I pump to save lives. I think about the mommas out there who can’t feed their babies. I think about the babies out there who don’t have mommas. It puts things into perspective and makes me realize that pumping isn’t as bad as it sometimes feels.

Change your schedule

If possible, drop a session or two, even just temporarily until you get your mojo back. Sometimes you have a busy week and you barely have time to pump. Use this time to relax. Pump when you can but don’t worry about not pumping often enough. If you normally pump a 9,12,3,6 try a 9,1,5 instead for a few days. Play around until you find something you like.

Take a break

This one is tricky because of mastitis and clogged ducts, so only try this if your supply is steady and you know your body well. For lots of women, your milk supply is somewhat resilient. It’s not going to dry up overnight because you missed a session or two. In fact, if pumping stresses you out, it might make your supply drop. I’ve had multiple occasions where I drop a session and end up pumping more per day than before! Giving yourself a break can do wonders! I’ve gone through a week where I only pumped twice a day then turned around and started pumping 5 times a day and my supply didn’t see a permanent drop!

Pump more often for shorter durations

This is tip I’ve learned during really bad burnouts where nothing else helped. Instead of pumping for 20 minutes, five times a day, I’ll hand pump for 5 minutes, once and hour, all day long. It doesn’t fully drain but it still takes milk and a 5 minute session is better than no session at all!

Change pumps

If you use an electric pump, consider using a hand pump or hand expressing for a session or two. Same goes if you regularly hand pump! Switching things up can help push through a little burnout.

Retire the pump

If you have been in burn out for a while and nothing is working, if pumping is making you depressed, or if you are ready to quit, then you should wean off and be done. Finishing your pumping journey can be emotional but you will have so much freedom and time back that you haven’t had for a while. It’s never wrong to quit, regardless of how long or little you breastfed for! You did something great and that is enough!

If you are a milk donor and you are struggling to pull the plug because you feel guilty, you don’t need to feel guilty about anything. Donating milk is awesome, but never at the expense of your mental health! If you want to keep contributing, consider volunteering or donating financially. Even raising awareness is as awesome as donating milk! Because without awareness moms around the country wouldn’t now milk donation exists!

No matter what your situation is, you should never feel guilty about ending your breastfeeding journey. Even if it’s earlier than you had hoped. Be proud for what you did do!

I hope you feel peace towards your pump and remember to take it one ounce at a time!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the 240 minute rule for pumping?

Pumping every 3 hours for 30 minutes during the first 12 weeks is the 240-Minute Rule. Use the right pump, flange, products, and schedule for best results.

Can I breastfeed 20 min after pumping?

Moms often have more milk in the morning. Pump about 30-60 minutes after breastfeeding or at least an hour before. This ensures enough milk for your baby’s next feeding. If your baby wants to breastfeed right after pumping, go for it!

Can pumping too much decrease milk supply?

Using a breast pump won’t lower your milk supply—it might even increase it. If you struggle with low supply, start by ensuring you’re using the correct pump.

Is exclusively pumping exhausting?

Pumping a lot takes time and can be tiring. Being tired and stressed can make less milk. Take care of yourself by eating right, drinking lots of water, resting, and staying calm when you pump.

Is it OK to just pump and not breastfeed?

Sometimes, exclusive pumping happens when the baby isn’t getting enough milk like they would if they were breastfeeding. It could be because you’re not making enough milk or if the baby isn’t breastfeeding correctly.


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