How Often Should You Pump?

If you’re in the world of pumping breast milk, you’re probably no stranger to the myriad of questions that come with it. One biggie on everyone’s mind is, “How often should I pump?” Do we sync up with our baby’s feeding schedule? What if our little one doesn’t nurse directly? The questions are endless, but don’t worry we are here to help and provide you with some answers.

Let’s dive into this pumping journey together, and first things first – when should you start pumping? Well, it all depends on your unique situation. If your baby’s heading to the NICU or is having a tough time latching, start pumping as soon as possible, usually within an hour of birth.


But what if you’re planning to return to work or school down the road? In that case, give it about 2-3 weeks before you start pumping. And here’s a hot tip: that early morning pumping session, about an hour after breastfeeding, usually yields the most milk.


How often should you pump?
If you’re exclusively pumping, it’s pretty much in sync with your baby’s feeding schedule. Every two to three hours in the early days, and then every three to four hours after the first month. Nighttime feeds are on the menu for the first four to six months too.


For those occasional pumping sessions (hey, life happens), just pump whenever you’re away from your little munchkin or they’re sipping from a bottle. No rocket science here!


And here’s the million-dollar question: how much milk should you pump at once?
Once you’ve got your milk supply flowing, which usually takes around three to four weeks, you can expect 25-35 ounces per day. Divide that by your daily breastfeeding sessions, and you’ll have a ballpark figure for each pump.


Most moms pump around 3-4 ounces per session when their milk’s flowing freely. Remember, the CDC advises against storing more than 2-4 ounces per pumped milk stash to avoid any waste. Nobody likes wasted liquid gold! 


But what if you miss a pumping session?
Life with a baby can get chaotic, and it’s totally okay if you miss one every now and then. One missed session won’t wreak havoc on your supply, but if it becomes a habit, your milk volume might take a hit.


Breast pumping is a journey with its ups and downs. To help you along the way, here are some pro tips:


  1. Get cozy with your pump and consider getting your flange size checked by an expert.

  2. Stare at adorable baby pics or videos to boost oxytocin, the milk letdown hormone.

  3. Give those puppies a gentle massage while pumping for extra output.

  4. Warm compresses pre-pump can work wonders to get the milk flowing.

  5. Check your pump parts regularly to keep your supply steady.

  6. Invest in a hands-free pumping bra for convenience.

  7. Know your rights – there are laws to protect working parents who pump.


So there you have it! Pumping might come with questions, but with a little knowledge and some pumping savvy, you’ve got this.