How Often Should I Pump Breast Milk?
- May 14, 2012
- by Melissa Lawrence
Some moms have written me asking how often they should be pumping breast milk. The answer really depends on how often you are nursing your baby.
In this video, I share my own experiences and talk about how you can actually delay pumping if you need to. Relaxing the timing helped me, and I hope it will help you too! Keep watching for more breast pumping help!
Breast Pumping Tips
First, it’s very important to remember to stay hydrated when breastfeeding and breast pumping! Drinking lots of water and milk will help replenish the liquid and nutrients in your body after each feeding. Another way to keep up your milk supply is to pump regularly when you are not nursing from your breast or are away from your baby for more than a few hours. If you are away for the day at work, my breast pumping schedule would be to pump every 2-3 hours for about 15 minutes or so. Check with your doctor first, but in my view you can pump when you miss a feed or pump for a few minutes after each feed, allowing you to build up a nice supply of milk and provide extra stimulation for your breasts.
Schedule: Pumping Breast Milk and Working
When I had my first baby and returned to work, I felt very stressed about how to time pumping when I wasn’t with him. I would call my baby-sitter to check when he was eating at home and try to time my pumping around his schedule. It became a little unmanageable, and I actually learned that it’s really okay to pump when it makes sense, as long as you give your body enough time to build up milk for the next time you’ll be nursing your baby.
You can schedule your pumping sessions every 2-3 hours while you’re at work, so you’re consistently stimulating your body to produce milk. Remember to stay hydrated and nourished — you’re taking care of the baby, but you also need to take care of yourself!
Here is a sample schedule for a mom working a traditional 9-5 workday.
7 a.m. – Nurse Baby
(Many moms find they have the most milk first thing in the morning, because your levels of prolactin, the milk-producing hormone, are highest overnight. So if your schedule permits, you could try to also pump before or after that morning feed. I know some women who get up and pump and then get dressed, and then nurse the baby before heading to work. Some even nurse the baby on one side while pumping on the other! So this is an option especially if you’re struggling to pump enough milk, but don’t do it if it makes your morning too rushed!)
10 a.m. – Pump at Work (20-30 minutes)
1 p.m. – Pump at Work (while eating lunch, 20-30 minutes)
4 p.m. – Pump at Work (20-30 minutes)
(If you are only able to pump twice you could move the times to 11am and 3pm)
6 p.m. – Nurse baby when you get home from work, and possibly again before bedtime
(If baby sleeps through the night, you could also add a pumping session before you go to sleep, around 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.)
Of course, you may have to run off to meetings which are scheduled during your pumping time at work– and that alone can be stressful — but you get the gist. I always tried to push for conference calls!
How did you handle breast pumping at work or when you were away from the baby? Please comment below and share your experiences with the CloudMom community!