How Often Should I Pump?

By Krista Gray, IBCLC. Last updated February 5, 2013.

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How Often Should I PumpHow often you should pump depends on if you are trying to build your milk supply or maintain your supply.  If you are attempting to build your milk supply while separated from your baby, please read this article.

When you have established your supply but will be separated from your baby during a feed(s), you should pump anytime your baby eats.  If your baby is taking in 4 bottles during the day while away from you, you should pump four times.  Pumping for 15-20 minutes on both sides (until you have a strong supply built) is a general guide.  However, you only need to pump until you get the required volume.  Many moms find that with an established milk supply 5-10 minutes of pumping is usually sufficient.

Some women are not able to pump as often while at work.  Here are some tips to allow you to pump more frequently:

  • Keep a refrigerator in your office/classroom/workspace.  Don’t worry about cleaning/sterilizing your pump each time you use it.  Just keep it in your fridge between sessions and then take the pump home to clean and sterilize at the end of each day.
  • Get a bra that will allow you to pump hands free so you could pump while working
  • Even if you can’t pump a full session, pumping a little is better than not pumping at all.  You may find that it is easier to pump more frequently but only for 4-5 minutes per session.
  • Use breast compressions while pumping to increase the milk volume you get in a shorter amount of time.
  • Try pumping at drop-off and pick-up to minimize the time you are apart from your baby.