How often should you pump

How often should breastfeeding women pump breast milk
If you’re exclusively pumping meaning that you don’t nurse your baby, you only use a breast pump to express your milk then it’s important to know how often you should be pumping. In the beginning when you are establishing your milk supply you should pump 8 to 12 times a day. Some lactation specialists recommend 8 to 10 rather than 12.

Gasp…12 times a day. I know that seems like a lot but in the beginning you really want to establish a good supply so pumping often is key. Now you will probably hear that you should set a clock for every 3 hours to breastfeed. That’s a great idea but it doesn’t work that way for everyone. 3 hours can turn into 4 easily and you’ll find yourself stressing out because you missed your pumping time. What the La Leche League International recommends is setting goals throughout the day and having a plan for pumping.

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When I first started exclusively pumping I had a pretty set schedule that paralleled my daughter’s feeding schedule at the hospital. It was a 2-5-8-11 schedule. Basically she ate at 2am, 5am, 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm and 11pm. So the nurse recommended I follow a similar schedule that guaranteed I got in 8 pumping sessions a day.

A few tips for making sure you are pumping enough throughout the day:

  • “Aim for 10, work for 8, never go under 6” –The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (TWAOB)
  • “Place 8 or 10 pieces of candy near your pump and each time you pump eat a piece. By the end of the day they should be gone.”-TWAOB
  • Find a series on Netflix to watch and each time you pump watch an episode. This helps keep you entertained and for me personally it kept me from falling asleep at 2am.
  • Use a breastfeeding app to keep track of how often and how long you pump.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you missed a pumping session. Pump as soon as you remember.
  • In the beginning don’t sleep through the night, get up and pump. One of my nurses told me not to go longer than 4 hours without pumping when you’re trying to establish your supply.
  • “Adding a short nursing session is helpful, if you’re having trouble pumping often.” –KellyMom

Once your baby is a few months old you may find that you can get by with pumping just 6 times a day and manage to maintain your supply.

Read more about Breastfeeding

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What a Breastfeeding Mom’s Search History looks like

10 Reasons why you should breastfeed

Breast Milk Storage Guidelines

Tips on freezing your milk

4 thoughts on “How often should you pump

  1. James Bergman says:

    Thanks for your post, I’ll have to share it with my wife. I think she will really like the idea of using candy to tell how many times she has pumped. Sugar really is the best motivator.

  2. Shannan says:

    So my baby is 11 days old my milk supply seem to decrease within these last two days. Im just really able to eat again im gradually eating bigger meals. I do drink my mother’s milk tea which i think is awesome but i keep forgetting to drink enough water Im not sure if im not eating enough. Also my baby is nipple confused cause i started pumping in the hospital, cause i was afraid she wasn’t getting enough milk. So i introduce her to the bottle while i was pumping my fault i messed my has trouble lacting for along time so i went and brought a nipple shield it helped her to lacted on for longer feedings. But she sometimes has no patience she gets very irriatable when she’s latched cause it doesn’t out fast enough like the bottle. At this point im ready to cry im just unsure of me not doing everything right. I really want to breastfeed for a year..

    • Moms Make Milk says:

      Hi Shannan, You’re doing the best you can. You may notice that your baby wants to cluster feed around this time. So let her nurse as often as she wants to. Even if she just finished nursing an hour ago and you’re thinking she can’t be hungry she just ate. The more you nurse/pump the more milk you’ll produce. Getting a good latch can take some getting used to in the beginning. She will learn how to get used to the flow of latching. One tip I will recommend is look for her cues that she is ready to eat, such as her smacking her lips, rooting, trying to suck on her hands, etc. If you wait until she’s crying to nurse she will not be as patient with the slow flow of the nipple shield. I hope this helps. Be sure to check out the facebook group for more tips. -Clair

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