How Long Should I Pump For?

The answer to the question, “How long should I pump for?” depends on several factors. Some parents require longer than 35 minutes. Others may find the letdown to be fast or delayed, or they may have a small storage capacity. How long to pump depends on the size of your breasts and your baby’s needs. Here are some guidelines. 

Pumping every 3 to 4 hours:

How Long Should I Pump For?
Source: How Long Should I Pump For?

Ideally, you should start spacing out your pumping sessions at about three months of age. After your milk supply has regulated and you are producing enough milk for your baby, you can extend your sessions by 15 to 30 minutes. 

You can also start pumping every three to four hours as soon as you reach 12 weeks postpartum, but wait until your milk supply has stabilized to increase your frequency. This way, you can pump at a higher frequency and still produce enough milk for your baby.

Try to stick to your pumping schedule. If you forget to do a session, you can always make it up later. If you need a break, you can always add it to your schedule. Depending on your personal preferences, you can even add some time to your pumping sessions. 

If you find it difficult to pump regularly, try to set an alarm to remind you of the time. You can also use an automated reminder.

To keep the milk supply high, it is better to pump every three to four hours. But beware that your supply may drop. If you experience an increase in discomfort while pumping, try to extend your session. 

Some new mothers adapt to the schedule easily, while others have trouble getting used to the new routine. If your milk supply decreases after a few hours, try pumping every other day for a week.

Pumping every 2 to 3 hours around the clock:

It is not always possible to breastfeed a baby twenty-four hours a day. Some mothers opt for pumping, especially if they are returning to work or their lifestyle is changing. Breastfeeding mothers who are unable to feed their baby twenty-four hours a day should find a private place to pump. 

Depending on the circumstances, some mothers look for a comfortable seat and watch a picture of their baby. Others drink water and snack while pumping. It is also helpful to face a caregiver during this time.

When using an electric breast pump, the letdown phase takes a few minutes to mimic the suckling phase of a newborn baby. Once the letdown phase is complete, the pump switches to its regular mode. 

To avoid discomfort and engorgement, don’t always set the suction at the highest level, but instead, start at a lower level and gradually increase the suction until you’re comfortable with it.

Before starting a pumping session, wash your hands thoroughly. Next, try meditating or doing yoga stretches. Relaxation will help you relax and allow milk to flow. 

You can also prepare your breasts for pumping by doing a soft massage or using a warm compress before starting a new pumping session. If you’re not comfortable doing this, consider visiting a board-certified lactation consultant or joining a breastfeeding support group.

Pumping every 3 to 4 hours for baby’s needs:

A mother’s milk supply is determined by her own body, and stretching out the number of pumping sessions will affect the amount of milk she produces. However, it is important to keep in mind that over-pumping can result in clogged ducts. 

A hard lump in the breast or a drop in milk output are signs of a clogged duct and should be treated with caution. If you notice these signs, go back to pumping more often and try again. Experiment with your schedule to find the right balance for you and your baby.

After a few days of pumping, drop the number of sessions every two or three days. For now, try pumping for a few minutes every time you pass by the pump. 

Some women pump to relieve their breasts, but you should avoid emptying them by pumping too often. Instead, remove just enough milk for your baby’s comfort. And don’t forget to clean the pump parts!

While breastfeeding, mothers should pump eight to ten times per day. In the early months, you will likely need to pump several times during the day and overnight. Pumping every three to four hours is best, but you can adjust your schedule as your baby gets older. 

After the first two weeks, it is okay to pump every three to four hours for your baby’s needs. You may even be able to skip a few hours each day if you feel you’re not producing enough milk.

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