How Often Should I Pump? The Complete Guide For New Moms
“How often should I pump?” “How long should I pump each session?” “How much milk should I be pumping?”
Do these questions sound familiar? If so, you’ve come to the right place!
When it comes to establishing a feeding schedule with your little one, breastfeeding and pumping each has its own set of challenges. With a little help from our baby experts at Mustela, you’ll be on your way to breast-pumping success in no time.
In this guide, we’ll answer some of the most common pumping questions so you and your baby can enjoy feeding time together in harmony.
The Benefits Of Pumping
Whether you’re exclusively pumping or using a combination of both pumping and breastfeeding to keep your newborn full, there are many benefits to incorporating pumping into your baby’s feeding schedule.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of pumping is that it allows your partner or other family members to be involved in feedings. This can take a lot of pressure off new mothers and might allow time for you to recharge while others care for your little one.
Pumping can also help maintain and even increase breast milk supply. Because the pump stimulates milk production, establishing and maintaining a consistent pumping schedule can boost your body’s ability to let down milk.
In addition, if you’re breastfeeding as well as pumping, pumping can give your nipples a break and help prevent them from cracking and hurting.
If your little one is having difficulty latching, it can also relieve some stress while still ensuring your baby gets enough milk.
Like many new moms, you might find yourself asking questions like, “How often should I pump?” and “How much milk should I be expressing with each pumping session?”
Don’t stress — we’ve got all the answers to your most common pumping questions below!
Common Breast Pumping Questions
How Often Should I Pump?
The answer to this question is a lot simpler than you might think.
If you’re exclusively pumping, it’s best to mimic your little one’s feeding schedule by pumping every two to three hours, particularly during the first few weeks of their life. This helps maintain a healthy, consistent milk supply.
Pumping this often will total roughly eight or more pumping sessions per 24-hour period — close to or the same as the amount your little one would feed if exclusively nursing.
If you’re pumping as well as breastfeeding, on the other hand, the frequency of your pumping sessions may vary.
Finally, if you’re pumping to increase milk supply or because you want to begin storing your breast milk, you should aim to pump either an hour before or after breastfeeding for best results.
Some women may find that they’re able to pump from one breast while nursing from the other. Others find it easiest to pump in the mornings when breasts tend to be naturally fuller.
Try using a combination of these methods to see which works best for you and your little one.
How Long Should I Pump Per Session?
As for how long you should aim to pump per session, the general consensus is that 15 to 20 minutes per breast is a great place to start.
You may find that this timeframe isn’t quite long enough for your breasts to feel well-drained. If that’s the case, pump until your milk supply begins to slow down, but try not to exceed 30 minutes of pumping per breast in one sitting.
How Much Milk Should I Pump?
If you’re exclusively pumping, it’s ideal to aim for 25 ounces of breastmilk expressed over a 24-hour period. Keep in mind that this is a guideline rather than a hard-and-fast rule, so don’t be discouraged if you’re not able to produce that much.
If you’re pumping in addition to breastfeeding, the amount you should aim to express in a pumping session will vary. Try dividing the amount of milk your little one needs per day by the amount of time you’ll be away from them to help you determine how much milk you’ll need.
In either case, the amount of milk you’re able to express per pumping session depends on a variety of factors, from the type of pump you’re using to the amount of stress you might be feeling that day.
Go easy on yourself and understand that fluctuations in milk production are a normal part of breast pumping.
How Should I Store Breast Milk?
When it comes to the optimal way to store breast milk, you have a few options to ensure you’re able to get the best use out of your milk.
Many pumps come with specially designed containers that allow you to collect and store your breast milk mess-free. You can also purchase breast milk bags to store your milk.
It’s best to store breast milk in small quantities, particularly if you’ll be freezing it. Try to limit each bag or container to around three or four ounces to allow for expansion and to make it a simple process when you thaw milk for each feeding.
Breast milk generally keeps in the refrigerator for up to four days, and it can be kept in the freezer for six to 12 months.
Don’t forget to write the date and the amount of milk on each bag before you store it — you’ll thank yourself later!
Remember To Take Care Of Your Body
As important as it is to make sure your little one is well-fed, it’s equally important to make sure you’re taking care of your own body, too.
For starters, practice basic self-care — that means plenty of hydration, a well-balanced diet, and getting enough sleep. Creating milk for your little one is a big job that requires a lot of energy!
Since looking after your new bundle of joy usually takes priority, mental health is another aspect of self-care that often gets overlooked by new moms. However, it’s crucial to make time for yourself and the activities that you enjoy to keep your mental health in check.
One way to do this is to set aside a few minutes per day to care for your postpartum skin. Because we know how important skin care is, our maternity products have been specially formulated for new moms to help you feel your best.
With naturally derived ingredients and gentle formulas, you can take comfort in knowing our products are safe to use whether you’re pumping, breastfeeding, or doing a combination of the two.
How Often Should I Pump: Your Questions Answered
Motherhood doesn’t come with an instruction manual, so it’s natural for you to have plenty of questions when it comes to feeding your little one.
From “how often should I pump” to “how long should I pump each session,” we hope you’ve found answers to some of the most common breast pumping questions here. By following our tips, you and your baby can establish the right feeding method and schedule for your needs.
Remember to take care of your physical and mental health as well, and look after your breasts with our maternity skincare products, including Nursing Comfort Balm and Bust Firming Serum, to support your postpartum journey.