6 Tips for Creating a Breast Milk Pumping Schedule
Breastfeeding is recognized as one of the most beneficial options for feeding your baby. But even though nursing is a natural instinct, there’s still a learning curve when it comes to breastfeeding. It’s not always easy to tell when your baby is hungry, for instance, or to know how to gauge your milk supply. It might also take some time to learn which position your baby most prefers for feeding time.
As you and your baby get used to breastfeeding, there are additional factors to consider as well. For example, many mothers decide to start pumping at some point. Understanding how to incorporate pumping sessions into your daily life, especially if you’re heading back to work, is essential for keeping a steady milk flow, properly organizing and storing breast milk, and managing your own stress levels. But when is the best time to pump breast milk, and how can you ensure that your supply stays strong?
Whether you’re pumping so that your partner can help with feeds, preparing to return to work, or simply committing to an exclusive breast milk pumping schedule, here are some of our favorite tips for maintaining consistency for both you and your baby.
1. Purchase a Hospital Grade Electric Pump
If you plan to exclusively pump—or want to do everything possible to set yourself up for success, we recommend getting yourself a double electric pump. Hospital grade breast pumps are designed to be the most powerful and effective option for collecting breast milk. If you have the opportunity to invest in one for personal use, take advantage of it! This may help ease your pumping experience, especially if you’re a new mother, and make it less challenging to collect large quantities of milk at a time.
2. Talk to Your Boss About Pumping Breaks
If you want to create a pumping schedule but are returning to work, it’s important to be open and honest with your boss about your plans. Not only can this make it easier to schedule pumping time once you head back to the office, but it can also lessen the stress that may be involved with stepping away from your work to collect milk.
3. Pump When Baby Would Normally Feed
Since all babies are different, many of them have different eating habits and feeding schedules. The number of times they feed throughout the day will also change as they get older. In light of all these factors, it remains important to pump whenever your baby would breastfeed, which is typically about every two to three hours.
Remember that breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. Whether you breastfeed your baby directly or pump to collect your milk, your body recognizes when it needs to replenish its stores. Training your body to keep up your supply, even when your baby isn’t around, can be made simple with a consistent pumping schedule. Just make sure to include breaks during your day to pump whenever you would normally feed your baby. This will replenish your supply, as well as increasing your chances of being able to produce milk long term.
4. Keep Pumping Sessions Between 8-15 Minutes
When you’re breastfeeding your baby directly, it’s often easier to tell when you’re done, since your baby will likely nurse until he or she is full. If you’re pumping, however, how do you know when to stop?
BabyCenter recommends keeping pumping time between 8 and 15 minutes if you’re using a double electric pump. Of course, you can always stop a bit earlier if you notice no new milk appearing in your collection bottles.
If you’re having trouble with maintaining your supply, power pumping may help. This is when you schedule a pumping session for 15–20 minutes, then rest for 10 minutes, pump for 10 more minutes, rest for another 10 minutes, then pump for a final 10 minutes. This power pumping schedule is designed to mimic cluster feeding, which helps restart the supply-and-demand system in your body and remind it to continue producing milk.
5. Get a Handheld Pump for On-The-Go Sessions
While double electric pumps are ideal for scheduled pumping, you may still want to invest in a manual pump as well. These smaller pumps can be useful for vacations or other disruptions in your everyday schedule when it’s not feasible to bring a larger pump along. In these instances, using a handheld pump can be the perfect way to keep your breast milk supply up, or to find some relief during a long travel experience.
6. Consider this Sample Pumping Schedule
Still not sure about how often to pump breast milk? Looking for more insight on the best time of day to pump breast milk? Consider this sample pumping schedule by NEB Medical, or use it as a guide to create a more customized schedule that fits your lifestyle:
5:30 a.m. Breastfeed when your baby wakes up
7:00 a.m. Breastfeed before heading to work
9:00 a.m. Pump at work
12:00 p.m. Pump during your lunch break
3:00 p.m. Pump during an afternoon break
5:30 p.m. Breastfeed at daycare or at home
8:00 p.m. Breastfeed at bedtime
Breastfeed during the night as needed
Remember that this schedule can easily be adjusted from one baby or mom to another. Keep your own daily schedule in mind when putting together your breast milk pumping schedule, and tailor it to fit your individual needs.
Turn Your Stockpile into Breast Milk Jewelry
Getting into the flow of a breast milk pumping schedule can work wonders for your supply—so much so that you may even find yourself building up a major freezer stockpile! If you end up having more than enough milk to keep your baby nourished and satisfied, consider transforming a bit of it into a beautiful piece of breastmilk jewelry.
At KeepsakeMom, we create gorgeous, unique jewelry as a way for mothers to celebrate the joys and rewards of motherhood. Each piece is crafted by hand to combine beauty and meaning into an everlasting keepsake representing the bond between mother and child.
Breastmilk jewelry can also serve to commemorate your individual breastfeeding journey. Because breastfeeding can be one of the most monumental accomplishments of a mother’s life, wearing a symbol that recognizes your hard work and dedication can help you cherish that memory for years to come.