By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC
The first 12 weeks of your breastfeeding journey requires frequent breastmilk removal, stimulating healthy milk production. Studies show moms who exclusively pump for a minimum of 120 minutes per day can make enough to feed their babies primarily breastmilk. After 12 weeks, your body has gotten the hang of milk making, and it could be an optimal time to drop a pumping session. Every breastfeeding experience is personal and unique.
Read on to decide if you are ready to drop a pumping session and how to do it the most effective way.
How Often Are You Pumping and How Old Is Your Baby?
Trying not to go more than 4 hours without pumping/nursing is a general breastfeeding rule while breastmilk is being established. It’s best to wait until after the first 12 weeks to start eliminating pumping sessions. Frequently draining the breast every 2-3 hours will ensure your body produces enough milk and avoids engorgement. If you reached the 12-week milestone and pumping 8x or more per day, dropping a pumping session can be safely considered.
How Much Milk Do You Currently Make Per Day?
Babies from one to six months old will consume on average 25oz per day. Research tells us exclusively pumping will yield a range from about 19oz to 30oz per day. On average, that’s 2-4oz combined every 2-4 hours. Milk production usually peaks at around 40 days postpartum, and it’s normal for this amount to fluctuate from day to day or session to session too! If you are nursing your baby at the breast and currently adding in pumping sessions, expect to see half the amount, ½ -2oz combined.
Are You OK with Supplementing?
This could be a deal-breaker for some parents. If your baby has only received breastmilk up until now, you may be a bit more hesitant to offer formula. Others may supplement from the beginning and are comfortable adding additional formula if it means less pumping. Having an open and honest conversation with your trusted pediatrician can help you decide what’s best for you and your baby. No matter what you choose, you love your baby and are doing the very best you can.
How Do I Start Dropping a Pumping Session?
Gradual weaning from the pump is always best. Start with eliminating a pumping session by 3-5 minutes until eliminated. It can take about a week or more to drop the session completely, and even then, set the alarms and listen to your body. Hand express or pump for 5 min for relief if needed to avoid clogged ducts and engorgement. Pumping on a low vacuum (3-5) and slower expression cycle (38 with the S1/S2) can gently drain the breast, allowing an easier transition. Once a pumping session has been dropped, the remaining sessions can be spaced out more evenly.
Need help dropping a pumping session? Our IBCLCs are experienced with pumping schedules, weaning from the breast pump and more. Schedule a complimentary consultation with us today.
Bonyata, K. (2018, January 02). Exclusive Pumping • KellyMom.com. Retrieved September 21, 2021 , from https://kellymom.com/mother2mother/exclusive-pumping/
Bonyata, K. (2018, January 16). I’m not pumping enough milk. What can I do? • KellyMom.com. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from https://kellymom.com/hot-topics/pumping_decrease/
Lawrence, R. A., & Lawrence, R. M. (2016). Breastfeeding: A guide for the medical profession. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.
Mohrbacher, N. (2012, November 27). How Much Milk Should You Expect to Pump? Retrieved September 21, 2021 from http://www.nancymohrbacher.com/articles/2012/11/27/how-much-milk-should-you-expect-to-pump.html