Shawn Johnson East Details Exclusive Pumping Routine in Instagram Story
Breastfeeding can be a completely different experience for women. Some have no problems with it, while it’s a struggle for others. Shawn Johnson East has been open with fans about her difficulty breastfeeding her daughter, Drew, and just shared a snippet of what feeding looks like for her these days.
East shared a video on her Instagram story of her breast pump and revealed that she was “sitting on the bathroom floor” late at night while pumping.
“EP life means never a full night of sleep,” she added.
The “EP” East mentioned stands for “exclusive pumping,” which is when you pump at regular intervals and then give the milk to your baby, usually in a bottle. Apparently for East, that includes pumping late at night, too.
What does exclusive pumping entail?
Exclusive pumping sounds time-intensive, and it is, says Rebekah L. Huppert, R.N., a lactation consultant at the Mayo Clinic.
“Pumping is a nice option for getting baby’s breast milk, but it still requires a big time commitment,” she says. Often, the goal is to get in eight to 12 pumps within a 24-hour time period, Huppert says.
And that often includes pumping at night. Nighttime pumps are normal and important when you’re exclusively pumping, says Leigh Anne O’Connor, a board-certified lactation consultant and La Leche League leader.
“The body makes milk around the clock because babies are designed to nurse frequently, and milk production works by physical and hormonal means,” O’Connor explains. “Most people make the most milk between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Cutting off this prime milk-making time can down-regulate milk production.”
So, exclusively pumping often means getting up at night to pump, even if your baby is sleeping.
That’s a lot of pumping, but there are some things you can do to make the process easier on yourself. Setting up a pumping station at your house (or wherever you pump) and sanitizing the bottles ahead of time is helpful, says women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D.
Read This Next
“That way, you’re ready to go,” she says. “Staying one step ahead can make the process more efficient and less time consuming.”
Pumping can be tough on your nipples and breast tissue, so you’ll want to make sure you have a reliable pump that does a good job pulling milk from your breasts but doesn’t pull too hard, says Sherry Ross, M.D., an OB/GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. (You can also work on changing the intensity of your pump to find a pressure that works well for you.) And, to prevent pain and nipple cracking, you can use a nipple cream.
Pumping eight to 12 times a day is a lot, and it’s a lot to keep track of. That’s why Christine Greves, M.D., a board-certified OB/GYN at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, recommends setting an alarm throughout the day so you’re not constantly having to think of when to pump.
Rebecca Rudesill, M.D., an OB/GYN at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center who did exclusive pumping with her daughter, doesn’t recommend exclusive pumping if you have a choice in the matter.
“I always tell patients that exclusive pumping is three times the work and none of the joy,” she says. “Long term, it’s a lot of work with a lot of dishes.”
But, if you don’t have a choice, she recommends doing what you can to make the process easier on yourself.
“It’s hard to pump while you’re also caring for a new baby,” Dr. Rudesill says, which is why she recommends investing in a wearable pump if you can afford it. That can allow you to walk around and do other things while also pumping.
Additionally, if you start exclusively pumping and you find yourself dreading those sessions, Dr. Greves recommends trying to find a way to make them more enjoyable for you. Maybe keep a book or magazine handy, watch Netflix on your phone or just take a few minutes to close your eyes while you pump.
“You can make it something you look forward to, she says.
Was this article helpful?