You have decided to exclusively pump but that’s all you’ve done, you don’t have the slightest clue on where to begin.
Not to worry! I have survived months of exclusive pumping; and now, I know all the ins and outs!
Just sit tight and go with me as I explain how to plan an exclusive pumping schedule!
Why Would You Go For Exclusive Pumping?
If you don’t already know, exclusive pumping involves a mother expressing her breast milk with a pump and not directly nursing – that means the baby only feeds from a bottle or another container.
The reason you decide to go exclusive pumping doesn’t hold water. Whatever made you choose is valid – no questions asked.
- Your baby was born prematurely and cannot properly latch for various reasons such as tongue-tie.
- You spend lots of time separate from your baby whether for work, travel or just take a break.
- To share feeding experiences with your partner or family members.
- To relieve breast engorgement – breasts full with milk.
- Your baby refuses to nurse directly from your breasts.
- Your baby has started growing milk teeth consequently biting you.
- You feel pain or discomfort when nursing directly.
- You are uncomfortable about your baby nursing from your breast due to an unpleasant sexual experience.
- You would like to keep a track of the amount of food your baby is taking in and when.
Or maybe, you just want to exclusively pump! It’s okay to feed your baby with exclusive pumping. Approximately 6% of mums in America exclusively pump breast milk for their babies!
Benefits Of Exclusive Pumping Schedules
Life is already chaotic enough with a new addition, let’s not add more stress with randomized pumping times.
I suggest you organize an exclusive pumping schedule for convenience. It certainly takes a lot to go through with your exclusive pumping decision but it is worthwhile in the end. How?
- It relieves worrying about inadequate milk from pumping sessions.
- You can effectively monitor your baby’s daily breast milk intake.
- It programs your body to produce milk at the scheduled times. Random pumping sessions can leave your body confused as to when to produce milk.
- It gives you a bit of relaxation time when planned properly.
How To Create A Pumping Schedule That Works For You
Honestly, there are a lot of factors to consider when arranging a pumping schedule. The schedule that worked for me won’t necessarily work for you.
You have to pay attention to your body and take your baby into account.
Let’s take a look at some of these factors to consider when creating your pumping schedule.
- 120-minute rule: As a general rule, you need to pump for at least 120 minutes a day. Of course, this depends on how much milk your body produces at a single pumping session. You may exceed this pumping limit or miss it slightly.
- Baby’s Milk Intake: This depends on your little one’s age. When my baby was 1 week she consumed as little as 1 ounce per feeding. This increased as she grew older and then dropped a little further later.
You can expect your baby to consume 20 – 25 ounces of breastmilk daily in the first few months.(3)
- Amount Of Milk You Supply: Here, I’m simply referring to the amount of milk your body can produce in a single pumping. I usually got 3 – 4 ounces when I pumped so I set my schedule for 9 times a day. Then I stored any leftovers of my liquid gold in the fridge.
- Baby’s Age: This is directly linked to your baby’s daily food intake. Their age will determine the amount of milk they consume and digest.
After a few pumping sessions, observe how much food your baby eats and try to match that with your pumping.
- Availability: I noticed that not a lot of mums refer to this aspect. Yet, it is a crucial factor in creating the perfect exclusive pumping schedule.
Imagine scheduling a pumping session for noon when you’re at an important board meeting at that time. You likely won’t be able to go through with it.
The key here is that you have to create time. We’re talking about your baby. It may not be easy at first but you have to build your daily schedule around your pumping schedule and not the other way round.
What Pumping Schedule Is Best For You?
The only way to determine this is to consider the factors in the previous section and check with your lactation experts.
You have to pay keen attention to detail when arranging your exclusive pumping schedule. As I previously stated, there is no set standard as to what pumping schedule is the right one.
Every mom’s body differs just as every baby’s needs do. So, just create a schedule, stick to it for a while, and observe how well it serves both of you.
If it doesn’t do well, you can always try out a new exclusive pumping schedule. In no time, you would find the right pumping schedule for you!
Sample Pumping Schedules
New moms are always so busy; from cleaning to taking care of the baby to work. It can get overwhelming so you may not have enough time to formulate a pumping schedule.
Well, that’s not a problem. I have a schedule I created and followed all through my exclusive pumping journey and it worked wonders.
Read on as I give you sample schedules based on your baby’s age, number, or average milk supply.
1.Sample Pumping Schedule That Works With Newborn
Speaking from experience, this is the time that requires the most effort in your exclusive pumping journey. This is when your baby consumes food at a frequent rate of around 2 – 3 hours each day.
Trust me when I say you got to do a lot of pumping. Depending on the exact amount of breast milk your little one consumes, lactation experts recommend pumping 8 – 12 times daily.
Below is a 9-time pumping schedule that I ran during my baby’s first months:
|1st session||7 am|
|2nd session||10 am|
|3rd session||12 pm|
|4th session||3 pm|
|5th session||5 pm|
|6th session||8 pm|
|7th session||10 pm|
|8th session||1 am|
This pumping schedule allowed me to maximize the high level of milk supply at midnight; offering me roughly 3 hours of sleep between the 7th and 8th session.
On the days when my baby slept a good amount at night, I got 5 clear hours of sleep between the last session for the day and the first session for the next. Otherwise, I’m sure you know the story.
2.Sample Pumping Schedule That Works With An Older Baby
As the saying goes “ the beginning is always the hardest.” That applies to your exclusive pumping too!
In the beginning, you had to work on a tight pumping schedule but as you move on it gets flexible. You would probably be introducing solids to your baby at 6+ months.
At that time, you won’t have to express as much milk to meet their daily feeding needs anymore! You can get away with 4 – 6 pumping sessions a day. I mean, your body is probably already constant with milk supply.
Here’s the more relaxed pumping schedule that I followed when my baby hit half a year.
|1st session||7 am|
|2nd session||10 am|
|3rd session||1 pm|
|4th session||5 pm|
|5th session||9 pm|
I said goodbye to midnight pumping at this point, talking about relief. It still takes a good level of commitment and time but it’s certainly easier than the pumping schedule for a newborn.
3.Sample Pumping Schedule That Works With Twins
It takes a lot from you to effectively pump for one baby, it takes twice as much for twins.
If you have twins, don’t feel dejected just yet. You can make it work even as an exclusive pumper.
One thing you shouldn’t worry about is the milk supply. As long as you’re following your schedule, you should produce enough milk for both babies. Your body does know that you have twice as many mouths to feed.
I haven’t exclusively pumped for twins but I’ve made thorough research on it and come up with an awesome 8-time schedule for twin mamas!
|1st session||5 am|
|2nd session||7 am|
|3rd session||9 am|
|4th session||12 pm|
|5th session||3 pm|
|6th session||6 pm|
|7th session||9 pm|
|8th session||1 am|
Remember that you can tweak this pumping schedule if it feels too much for you. It’s important to get your baby nutrition but you have to be sound as well.
It is okay to consider formulas sometime along your journey too.
4.Sample Pumping Schedules To Increase Your Milk Supply
It is possible to get under your desired amount of expressed milk. Maybe your supply drops all of a sudden or you never really got a good amount.
There are some foods – not scientifically proven – that you can take to enhance your milk supply. Some of which are oats,
Those aren’t the only things that can benefit your supply though. You can arrange a pumping schedule specially designed to maximize milk supply.
This is a simple easy-to-follow schedule that I used occasionally during low breast milk supply.
It runs for about 1 hour for each session.
|1st session||8 am||15 minutes pump, 10 minutes break, 10 minutes pump, 10 minutes break 15 minutes pump|
That’s how the schedule goes, you can stick to the timing from the previous pumping schedules or add an extra hour in between since each pumping session takes about 60 minutes.
How Often Should You Pump When You Are Exclusively Pumping?
At this stage in this article, you probably already know the answer to this question. You will have to consider the same factors for creating a pumping schedule here.
Now, I’ll state the required number of pumping sessions per age of your little one:
- 1 – 2 months – 8 – 12 times daily
- 3 – 4 months – 7 – 9 times daily
- 5 – 6 months – 6 – 7 times daily
- 6+ months – 4 – 6 times daily
- 1 year or older – 3 times or less daily
You can start weaning your baby once they’ve crossed the 1-year mark. Remember that it’s a gradual process to rid your little one of access to breast milk.
How Long Should You Pump?
The amount of time you should pump for each session is mostly subjective. Although, dieticians recommend that you pump for around 10 – 15 minutes for each session. Any longer may lead to sore nipples.
I never exceeded 15 minutes at a go but some moms reportedly pump for up to 1 hour without breaks. This also depends on the strength of your pump.
A slow pump will have you pumping for a little longer than usual. I used the Spectra S1 plus breast milk pump for my exclusive pumping and it worked pretty well.
It is also advised by lactation experts that you wait a while after pumping and then go again for a few minutes(1). This can aid your level of milk supply.
Tips For Sticking To Your Pumping Schedule
- Get an app that helps you track your pumping schedule, and your pumping time and will notify you when it’s time to pump.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a pumping session. Just do it as soon as you can and continue with your schedule.
- Eat healthily and stay hydrated always during your pumping times and after.
- If you start work, ask your boss for a place where you can pump so you don’t jeopardize your schedule.
- Invest in a pumping bra that allows you to have free hands while you pump. One of my favorites is the Momcozy hands-free pumping bra. It was a real breather while I pumped!
You’ll find a few other great tips for exclusive pumping in this YouTube video by Bridget Teyler.
Choosing to feed your baby exclusively from pumped breast milk is just fine. Ensure to follow a convenient schedule to make the experience easier for you.
Are you an exclusive pumping mom? How has your experience been so far? I’d love to hear your answers in the comment section!
1. Australian Breastfeeding Association, (2020, Feb). Exclusive Expressing https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/exclusive-expressing
2. Expressing your breast milk. National Health Service, NHS https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/feeding-your-baby/breastfeeding/expressing-your-breast-milk/expressing-breast-milk/#anchor-tabs
3. Milk Volume. National Center for Biotechnology Information, NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235589/#_NBK235589_pubdet_