When To Pump When Breastfeeding

The Three Most Common Reasons To Pump When Breastfeeding

when to pump when breastfeedingWhen breastfeeding is the primary source of your baby’s nutrition – meaning you’re not primarily giving formula bottles and you’re not exclusively pumping – there are still several really great reasons to own a good quality pump and use it frequently. The three most common reasons to pump when breastfeeding are:

  1. To increase breast milk production
  2. To build up a freezer stash of breast milk to be used when your return to work or school
  3. To pump when you’re away from baby for extended times, such as after you’ve returned to work or school

When to pump when breastfeeding depends on the circumstances, so let’s look at each of these. Read on!

When To Pump When Trying To Increase Milk Production

when to pump when trying to increase breast milk productionIf you are primarily trying to use your pump to increase breast milk production, it’s best to pump right after you finish breastfeeding. First, be sure you are breastfeeding baby on both sides during each breastfeeding session. After baby has finished, pump both sides for 5 additional minutes after no more milk is flowing. For example, you begin pumping after baby has finished on both sides and little to no milk is flowing from the left – it’s completely drained but a bit of milk is flowing out of the right and does so for four minutes then seems to stop. Now start your timer and continue pumping both sides for the bonus 5 minutes.

Why it works: the additional pumping time after all milk has stopped flowing communicates to the body that it is not producing enough milk and that production needs to be increased. The body will still need certain conditions to be met for an actual increase to occur: things like sufficient hydration, sufficient calories (it takes about 500 calories to create enough breast milk to feed a baby each day, above the mother’s calorie needs), sufficient rest, and so on.

If pumping after breastfeeding does not seem to be increasing milk supply on it’s own, consider trying an herbal supplement such as Lactiful Supply Max. An observational study in 2012 showed that 75% of moms who tried Lactiful Supply Max increased their breast milk production and that the average increase was 14.8 additional ounces of breast milk per mom, per day. See more about Lactiful here.

When To Pump When Trying To Build Up A Freezer Stash

When you know that you’ll be away from baby for a significant amount of time in the future, typically when you return to work, many moms build up a freezer stash of milk so that baby can continue to get breast milk even when away from mom.

While you can certainly pump after each breastfeeding session, such as when moms are trying to increase their milk supply, the output tends to be a bit low because baby has already drained the lion’s share. Instead, the best time to pump either in the night well after baby has gone to sleep or in the morning well before baby usually wakes up. You want to avoid pumping too close to a typical breastfeeding time, but planning your bonus pumping session to be a far apart from a breastfeeding session as possible.


Initially you may not get much milk pumped during this session, but stick with a consistent time each day and your body will adjust to the additional milk withdrawal and you will begin producing a good quantity of milk at this time.

See our printable milk storage guidelines for everything you need to know about storing breast milk.

When To Pump When Away From Baby

help-milk-supplyWhen you’re away from baby, typically when at work or school, you’ll need to pump regularly in order to keep up your breast milk production so that you can continue to breastfeed when with baby. The ideal times to pump when away from baby are at the times when baby would normally breastfeed. If you don’t know baby’s schedule or if baby doesn’t stick to a schedule, pumping every 3 hours is a good rule of thumb. Try not to go more than 4 hours between any milk withdrawal (either breastfeeding or pumping) which can cause your milk production to drop.

Now you know when to pump when breastfeeding! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below. Click for more articles about how to increase milk supply

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