Pumping and Breastfeeding S...

If you’re breastfeeding your baby, you’re likely pumping part of the time as well, but the more you pump, the more important it becomes to have a schedule so that you’re not making too little -- or too much -- breast milk. If you’ve ever asked yourself, do I need to pump if I am exclusively breastfeeding, the answer is “no,” you do not, but there are many advantages to doing so.


The Many Reasons to Pump

There are many reasons why breastfeeding mothers choose to also pump regularly, and here are a few of the main ones:

  • They know that they’ll be returning to work eventually, and they want to have a supply of breast milk built up so the baby doesn’t have to drink formula.
  • They have a premature baby who isn’t ready for the breast yet, but they want to have milk ready for them when they do.
  • They want to increase their supply of milk so that the baby is certain to get enough food throughout the day.

Pumping can be done full-time, part-time, or just temporarily, but a good breastfeeding pumping schedule must be established before you get started. Depending on your goals and your baby’s eating habits, you can easily establish a schedule that is right for you. You can use either an electric or manual pump, but the more often you pump, the easier it will be for you if you choose electric. The manual pumps can be tiring after a while.


What Are the Baby’s Needs?

Another factor to consider is how often the baby should be fed to grow and thrive. As a general rule, newborns consume roughly 25 to 30 ounces per day for the first six months of age. That being said, you need to pay attention to how your baby is behaving because your child may need more or less milk in a 24-hour period.

So, when should you start pumping? The answer depends on why you’re pumping in the first place. If you’re pumping because you’ll be going back to work at some point, you can wait until three to four weeks before you return to work to start pumping. For babies that can’t get to the breast yet, you can start pumping right away, and if you only plan to pump occasionally, you really don’t have to be on a specific schedule.

When you intend to pump, you probably have already wondered, how long do you breast pump, and how often should you breast pump. The answers will depend on many things, most of which have already been mentioned. That being said, here are some examples of pumping schedules that you can use depending on your needs.


Schedule 1: If You Plan to Pump Exclusively

If you’re going to pump exclusively, here is a good schedule to follow:

  • 7 a.m.
  • 9 a.m.
  • 11 a.m.
  • 1 p.m.
  • 3 p.m.
  • 5 p.m.
  • 7 p.m.
  • 10 p.m.
  • 3 a.m.

At this point, you should try to pump 15 to 20 minutes each time, and remember that pumping in the mornings usually produces the most milk. As your baby gets older, you can reduce the number of pump sessions and/or the amount of time you pump since the baby will be drinking less milk.


Schedule 2: If You Want to Fill the Freezer with Bottles of Breast Milk

For starters, you should pump roughly 30 minutes to an hour after you nurse so the milk has enough time to build up again. Once you’ve done this for about three days, pumping should produce better results. Here is a schedule that you can follow for pumping:

  • 7 a.m. (nurse)
  • 8 a.m. (pump)
  • 10 a.m. (nurse)
  • 11 a.m. (pump)
  • 1 p.m. (nurse)
  • 4 p.m. (nurse)
  • 7 p.m. (nurse)
  • 10 a.m. (nurse)
  • 2 a.m. (nurse)
  • 5 a.m. (nurse)

This schedule may seem a little lopsided, but it works. When you’re breastfeeding regularly, you’ll find that even pumping three or four times a day is enough to build up a supply of breast milk for your baby.


Schedule 3: If You Will Be Pumping at Work

When you’ll be pumping at work, make sure you nurse the baby in the morning and start again when you get home. You really only have to pump two or three times throughout the work day. If you buy a wearable pump, it may be a little easier for you to keep up with these demands and you can pump for 15 minutes instead of 20 if you like.


What Is Power Pumping?

Power pumping is a way to pump a lot over a short period of time to jump start the milk production. The typical power pumping schedule looks like this:

  • Pump for 20 minutes
  • Rest for 10 minutes
  • Pump for 10 minutes
  • Rest for 10 minutes
  • Pump for 15 minutes
  • Rest for 10 minutes

If you continue this cycle for one to two hours, it shouldn’t take long to build up your supply of breast milk.



If you’ve decided to pump in addition to or in place of breastfeeding, it’s much easier to do when you get on a schedule. For all practical purposes, it doesn’t matter if you use a manual breast pump or an electric breast pump, although many moms feel it is just plain easier and less tiring to pump with an electric pump. Either way, your schedule is important, but establishing a good schedule is a lot easier than you think.

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