How Often Should I Pump While Breastfeeding?

Are you thinking of getting started pumping breastmilk while you’re still breastfeeding your baby?

Do you have a medical reason for this, such as engorged breasts between feeding sessions?

Do you want to supply your baby with plenty of breastmilk to drink when you’re not available for feedings?

There are a lot of reasons why you might want to pump milk while breastfeeding, but no matter what the cause is, you need to make sure you’re pumping the right amount.

In this article, you’ll learn all about how often to pump, how to tell if you’re pumping too much or too little, and more. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be well on your way to a better understanding of the pumping experience, so let’s get started.

Why pump milk?

consider pumping while still breastfeeding

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There are a few reasons why you may want to consider pumping while still breastfeeding. Your own personal reasons are a matter of your individual needs as well as your baby’s, but just remember that you aren’t alone. There are many moms out there who choose to pump while nursing for some of the following reasons.

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    Easier breastfeeding. Your milk supply will stay steadier if you pump in between feedings, especially as your child starts to wean and needs less milk overall than he or she initially did.
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    Bottle-feeding breastmilk. If your partner wants to feed the baby or if you’re going back to work and will need to leave your baby with a sitter or another family member during the day, you may want to feed bottled breastmilk instead of formula.
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    Engorged breast relief. If you have a problem with engorged breasts, especially if your baby goes too long without nursing, you can relieve this issue by pumping.

How often should I pump while breastfeeding?

Understand that you’re going to need to set aside plenty of time for pumping if you’re doing it in conjunction with breastfeeding. This is something you’re either going to need to start doing while you’re still on maternity leave or to speak to your employer about allowing you time to pump while you’re at work. Once you’re sure you have enough time to devote to pumping, follow these tips for best results.

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  • Make sure you have time to pump in the morning even if you don’t have time throughout the rest of the day. It’s very common for milk production to increase in the mornings.
  • Try to space out pumping between nursing sessions. About an hour after one feeding and at least an hour before the next is a good way to make sure your child still get enough milk when he or she is ready to nurse.
  • When you need to start pumping exclusively rather than in conjunction with nursing, try to space out enough time each day to pump between 8 and 10 times daily.

Is it possible to pump too much or too little?

In short, yes, it is possible to pump too much or too little. However, it’s important to understand that there are a lot of differences between you and other moms, and your individual needs and situation may be quite different from someone else’s. Keep the following information in mind if you’re concerned about how much you’re pumping and whether or not it’s the right amount.

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  • Pumping too much along with also nursing your baby may confuse your body. You may be telling your body you need more milk than your baby can drink. This isn’t necessarily a problem, especially if you’re trying to store plenty of milk for times when you aren’t at home. However, it can lead to your milk coming out too quickly for your baby to be able to drink it, and this may cause more problems down the line.
  • If you pump too little, you may find your breast becoming more engorged more frequently. If this happens, you’ll need to make sure you’re pumping enough to express the milk that’s building up and causing the engorgement problem.
  • If you’re exclusively pumping with no nursing sessions in-between, then you probably don’t have to worry about either of these issues.

Is a pumping schedule important?

a pumping schedule

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Yes! It’s very important to maintain a good, solid pumping schedule. However, it’s not as important as it is to keep your baby on a strict nursing schedule, so always prioritize your baby’s nursing over your pumping. With that said, however, there are many tips you can keep in mind to help you figure out the perfect schedule for your needs as well as your child’s.

  • When you’re apart from your baby, make sure you’re pumping on the same schedule as you would normally be feeding your baby. You don’t need to miss any feeding sessions, or your body may start to think that it doesn’t need as much milk as it really does.
  • Keeping to a regular pumping schedule will help you be better able to pump for longer, too. Even if you don’t need the milk you’re pumping, it’s a good idea to continue with this schedule so that your milk production will stay level for as long as you need it to.
  • Make sure you schedule your pumping sessions between your nursing sessions so your baby will have enough to eat and won’t affect the amount you can pump.

What can I do with excess breastmilk?

If you find yourself pumping more milk than you need to use in a day, you have a few options for what to do with the excess. It really all depends on whether or not you think you’re going to need the milk at any point, so first you’ll need to figure out if this is the case.

  • Store your breastmilk. Store milk in a sterile plastic or glass bottle or bag. Keep it at room temperature for up to 6 hours, in the refrigerator for up to six days, or in the freezer for up to a month. Don’t store breastmilk in the door of the fridge or freezer, because this area is usually too warm.
  • Donate your breastmilk. You can donate breastmilk to a milk donor program and help out nursing moms who aren’t able to produce milk on their own. You can get in touch with your local women’s clinic for more information about programs like this.
  • Throw it out. If all else fails, there’s no harm in throwing out breastmilk you don’t need. If you want to keep pumping regularly but don’t need all the milk, throwing it out may be the best option for you.

Conclusion

Now that you know a little bit more about how often to pump while breastfeeding, you should be better equipped to get started with the next stage of your child’s infancy. Make sure you speak to your own doctor as well as your baby’s pediatrician before you make any significant changes to your lifestyle or your baby’s diet. However, transitioning to partial pumping while still breastfeeding is very common and isn’t a difficult thing to do. As long as you have the right information to help you along the way, you should be able to do this with little to no trouble.

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