Caring for a newborn and wondering how to create a breastfeeding and pumping schedule? Don’t worry – you got this momma. All you need is the right information and supplies and you’ll be producing and pumping more milk than you’ll know what to do with.
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WHEN CAN I START PUMPING IF I’M BREASTFEEDING?
A good rule of thumb is to wait until your child is breastfeeding successfully before starting to introduce a bottle with pumped breast milk.
However, if you’re just looking to pump milk and store it for later to relieve your pressure, do it as soon as you feel it’s necessary. Early in baby’s life, many new momma’s are engorged and NEED to relieve some of that pressure and milk between breastfeeding their child.
In this case, pump away! Just keep it a MINIMAL amount – enough to relieve the pressure, and stick in the freezer for safe-keeping.
There are a few reasons why it’s generally recommended to wait.
First, this CAN cause what’s known as “nipple confusion” (which is not the case with pacifier use – you can read about that here) in extremely young babies. And what could happen is that baby won’t be able to transition successfully from the nipple of the breast to the nipple of the bottle and it can really mess up a successful feeding schedule for everyone.
Second, you’re truly better off waiting until your supply is normalized. Your body is going to take some time to regulate and produce the right amount of milk – but it will get there. If you’re pumping after every feeding from birth – you’re gonna STAY engorged and your body will keep thinking it needs to produce more milk.
With all that said – talk to your doctor. They may have a specific recommendation for you based on your situation. For me, I started pumping immediately after birth because I had to go back to work fairly soon after having my kids. I never had plugged ducts or engorgement to deal with – but truthfully I was probably lucky.
OFTEN SHOULD I PUMP AND FOR LOW LONG?
How long are we supposed to keep that pump pumping away on our boobs?! It already feels like forever when you’re sitting there waiting for it to do its thing…but is there really a time limit? And how often should we be pumping?
This is really up to you and what you can handle. When you’re breastfeeding and pumping, you’re better off keeping the pumping to a minimum (as long as your milk supply is good).
Consider pumping in the morning to get rid of all that milk you’ve made overnight.
Pump thirty minutes to an hour after you’ve breastfed your baby, or about an hour before their next feeding. That way, you’re making sure that your body has time to make more. Because as soon as you empty your breasts, it’s triggered to start. (Did you know that your body was such a hard-working machine?!)
Related: How to Increase Milk Supply
You can always pump at various times throughout the day too if your breasts are feeling super full or tender. It’s better to get rid of some of the stored milk than to be in pain.
You can try and pump for multiple sessions a day, but be careful because it WILL wear you out if you aren’t careful.
The time you should be pumping can be anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes.
When I was breastfeeding and pumping, I did three times a day, for fifteen minutes on each side. I had a double pump (which I TOTALLY recommend by the way) so I was done in fifteen minutes.
Here’s a “sample” pumping schedule you can try – it’s what worked for me.
- 7 AM – Feed baby
- 8 AM – Pump
- 9 AM – Feed baby
- 11:30 AM – Feed baby
- 2:00 PM – Feed baby
- 3:00 PM – Pump
- 4:00 PM – Feed baby
- 6:00 PMFeed baby
- 8:00 PM Feed baby
- 9:00 PM Pump
- 11:00 PM Feed baby
- 3:00 AM Feed baby
PUMPING RIGHT AFTER NURSING
I know what you’re thinking…how in the world can you be expected to pump out even more milk after your newborn child seemingly just sucked you dry? Much to your disbelief (or at least MINE when I first started breastfeeding and pumping), you’ve probably still got milk in your breasts when your baby is finished.
I recommend waiting at least a half hour after your baby is done nursing before pumping. This gives you a little break and gives your boobs a little time to recuperate. Remember, once your baby is done eating, it immediately sends that signal to your body to start making more milk.
HOW MUCH MILK SHOULD I BE PUMPING?
Moms, this is the million-dollar question. And while there are a ton of experts out there that will tell you numbers and statistics, all that is going to do honestly is stress you out if you aren’t hitting those numbers. Mom to mom, you NEED to concentrate on how to make pumping while breastfeeding WORK…not spend time worrying about how much should you be pumping and storing.
Related: Smart Pumping Tips From Other Moms
Now whether you pump 2 ounces or 8 ounces, that will vary. Some women pump out breast milk as they’ve just hit an underground oil rig…while others struggle with getting more than a couple of drops out. As long as you’re getting some milk while pumping, you can address with your doctor about if it’s enough or how to work on increasing your milk supply.
Also – keep in mind it’s totally normal to have one breast that under-produces. Some women call it your “slacker boob” – I had a few other choice words for it. This was my left boob, and I remember being in tears some nights because I would pump and get four oz from one breast, was lucky to break a half ounce with the other. And I was sore. It felt like a personal reflection on my ability to mom the right way, and so I struggled with this for a looooong time.
Eventually I got over it. So if you’re struggling with that too – know that I DO get it. You’ll get past it because the fact of the matter is – it’s NOT the end of the world. You’re doing your best momma, and I promise that’s enough (even though I know it doesn’t always feel that way).
HOW MANY TIMES A DAY SHOULD I PUMP WHILE BREASTFEEDING?
This will vary between moms as well. There isn’t going to be a set number of times that you NEED to pump while breastfeeding but it’s a good habit to try and have a few set time/s a day that you’re going to pump. As I mentioned earlier, that was anywhere between one and three times a day on the days that I was home and not working.
When I was working, I pumped as often as my baby ate normally.
If you’re super ambitious…you can try and pump a little after each feeding for baby for a few days (I don’t really recommend doing this very long – you WILL burn out).
Some days you may be working. Other days you’ll have more time, some you’ll have less time. Some days, you may find that you need to pump more to relieve pain or engorgement. Instead of focusing on a set number, use a flexible breastfeeding and pumping schedule that works for you and baby.
CAN I BREASTFEED AND BOTTLE FEED MY BABY AT THE SAME TIME?
Yes, you can but many doctors recommend waiting until they’re a bit older to introduce this concept to them. You want to make certain that they’re latching to your nipple well and not having any type of feeding issues with breastfeeding before you introduce another nipple in the form of a bottle.
This can be confusing to them and their mouths and can ultimately complicate their ability to latch on to your breast.
For us, I offered a bottle before we had breastfeeding established because I went back to work fairly soon after my oldest was born (both of my kids actually). They did not experience any kind of nipple confusion, and I was able to breastfeed normally.
If you’re wanting to do both at the same time, talk to your doctor about it or a lactation specialist and see what they recommend. Ultimately, all babies are different so breastfeeding and bottle feeding at the same time is going to be different for ALL momma’s.
Also, I just wanna mention. If you end up deciding to exclusively pump, that’s a whole ‘nother ball game. I’d definitely recommend taking Stacey’s Exclusive Pumping Course. Stacey is a lactation consultant that has helped thousands of new moms through their breastfeeding journey.
PUMPING AND BREASTFEEDING SCHEDULE
Are you looking for a breastfeeding and pumping schedule for a working mom or just one that can keep you on track daily? You’re in luck. Setting up your schedule can help alleviate some of the confusion and questions about breastfeeding that you might have.
PUMPING AND BREASTFEEDING SCHEDULE FOR WORKING MOM
For many moms, this is where it gets tricky. Breastfeeding and pumping while at home is a lot more simple than trying to coordinate it with a working moms schedule. However “impossible” it may seem, where there’s a will, there’s a way. You just need to brush up on a few key points of when to start pumping for storage to use when you’re at work and figure out the answer to your question of “How often should I pump at work?”
Related: Newborn Hacks From Other Moms
Also – consider checking out Stacey’s Back to Work Pumping Class. She is a certified lactation consultant that has helped literally THOUSANDS of moms feel more confident in their breastfeeding journey. It’s only $19 bucks, so personally I think i’ts a nobrainer.
WHEN TO START PUMPING FOR STORAGE
If you know that you’re going to be headed back to work a few weeks after your baby is born, you need to start thinking about a plan of how you’re going to have enough breast milk stored up to continue feeding your baby with your own milk supply. One way to do this is to start pumping for storage purposes only.
This is what I did, and I started pumping as soon as I got home from the hospital. I pumped three times a day and had pretty a pretty awesome storage supply once it was time for me to go back to work.
You’ll continue with breastfeeding your baby, but make sure you’re pumping daily. Freeze and store that breast milk for future use.
As mentioned earlier, you can start this process quickly after the baby is born. Just make certain that you buy the appropriate freezer storage bags for breast milk and label them with the date that you pumped and froze. Talk with your doctor and make sure they’re okay with you starting this process now.
If you’re not going back to work for eight weeks, consider starting to pump on week five. This gives your supply time to normalize, and you time to save up a solid amount of milk.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I PUMP AT WORK?
If you’re asking me, as often as you want. Talk to your employer and see what kind of accommodations they are going to be able to make for you. (and they legally HAVE to so don’t back down!) They should be providing you with an appropriate space (which is NOT the bathroom ladies!)
As a general rule, plan on pumping twice during an eight-hour shift with a young baby. I would pump three (ish) hours into my shift and another three hours later. These pumping sessions may be a little longer than the ones you have home for a couple of reasons, so I recommend taking at least a half hour for these sessions.
- Your pump is not as efficient as your baby at removing milk, and you have more to remove since baby isn’t there.
- It can take longer for letdown to happen because work is often distracting and a little stressful. Not to mention the very easiest way to letdown is by having your actual baby present.
- You need to account for the time it takes to get set up and done.
Just pack your breast pump with you daily and pump at work as often as you need. Keep in mind that you’ll also have to store your breast milk in a cool place as well so make sure your employer can make this accommodation.
Related: Nursery Closet Organization Ideas
PUMPING AT WORK TIPS
- To help initiate letdown, take a picture or video of your baby with you. I had a couple of recordings of my baby on my phone. I would close my eyes, listen to her voice, and try and envision her there with me.
- Bring an extra shirt. I worked at an animal hospital, and would often experience letdown when a fluid pump started beeping. Not having an extra change of clothing would NOT have been good.
- Insist on keeping your milk in the work fridge/freezer. Honestly, I don’t really care if it makes someone squeamish. You’re welcome to bring a small cooler instead, but you can’t be sure that the temperature is right in there. Not worth the risk to me, and hopefully your coworkers are smart enough to not accidentally drink your breast milk!
- Get a hands-free pumping bra. Seriously. You NEED one of these. Create your own with an old bra (here’s how) or purchase one from Amazon right here.
- Use Freemies and pump while you drive. If you have a long commute, consider pumping while you drive. Something like Freemies makes this super easy while still keeping you covered.
QUICK PUMPING TIPS
More than likely, you’ve got a few questions still about breastfeeding and pumping. Even as you breastfeed multiple times per day, you’re always going to have questions that will come up. Here are a few quick pumping tips that I wanted to share with you that really did help me during my time of breastfeeding and pumping!
- SPLURGE ON A GOOD DOUBLE BREAST PUMP
I’m 100% serious about this. Now – with that said. Most (maybe all – I’m not an insurance expert so I’m not sure) WILL cover the cost of a breast pump. Contact your insurance and check with them on this.
Breastfeeding and pumping is hard work, so you need to do whatever it takes to keep it as simple and comfortable as possible for you. And in all reality, I recommend having an extra hand breast pump sitting around as well so you can just grab and quickly disperse milk from your breasts in a hurry if need be.
- CHECK OUT A COURSE
My VERY favorite breastfeeding and pumping resources are here. I know I’ve mentioned a couple of her resources a few times in this post, so I won’t belabor the point. Regardless..if you’re struggling with breastfeeding, pumping, or pumping and back to work – I recommend you check out the course associated with it.
- CHECK OUT FREEMIES
I first heard about Freemies from a blogger friend of mine who wrote a post reviewing them. While I have never used one (I hadn’t heard about it when my kids were that little) my friend LOVED hers.
Related: Newborn Sleep Tips
These are basically little hands-free collection cups that can attach to most popular brands of breast pumps. It’s less awkward and bulky than using what typically comes with a pump, and it means you don’t have to worry about getting a pumping bra. They give you more flexibility to be active while using them. Learn more about them here.
- HAVE AN AREA IN YOUR HOME SET UP AS YOUR BREASTFEEDING AREA
If you take the time to set up a space that you can pump quickly and easily, it will make the process that much faster. Have a space in your house dedicated to you pumping and leave it be. Don’t mess with it and don’t let anyone else mess with it. That is a “Boob Pumping Area” only.
My area included extra bags, tubes, and all of my supplies. I kept a couple of books and a bottle of water in my area.
- PUMP WHEN YOU CAN
Not every pumping session has to last a long time so just boot that thought from your brain. Pump when you can, where you can and you’ll find that your milk supply should stay steady and even start to increase every time you pump.
Combining breastfeeding and pumping isn’t difficult to do but it does take patience and persistence to make it happen! Tackle each day with a positive attitude and keep yourself eating and hydrated to produce as much milk as possible. Every day that you’re able to breastfeed your baby is a wonderful day.
And once you start incorporating pumping into your daily activities, you’ll find that you’re creating an amazing stash of breast milk that you can continue to feed your baby, long after you’ve gone back to work. Being able to combine breastfeeding and pumping successfully is possible with these simple tips!