Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC
It’s hard enough to care for a newborn while you recover from childbirth; throw pumping in the mix, and it can be challenging to juggle it all. But we have good news on the horizon! Often, there are areas in your pumping schedule you can limit, rearrange or eliminate all together and still have a healthy milk supply. Read on to learn about my Top 3 Pumping Schedule Killers and how you can avoid them so you can make plenty of super milk for your baby and keep your sanity too!
Pumping Schedule Killers
1. Pumping more than 8x times per day
If exclusively pumping, the first 12 weeks aim for pumping every 2-3 hours, which is about 8x per day. Pumping more than that will be harder to manage your schedule plus can increase nipple soreness and pain. Pumping sessions should be 15-20 minutes. After 12 weeks is a great time to start scaling back on pumping to around 6x per day. As a general rule, exclusive pumpers need 120 minutes per day of quality breast stimulation with a hospital strength pump.
2. Everyday Power Pumping
Power Pumping is a technique that requires on/off pumping for one full hour. Talk about a time sucker! But, when used short term, it can help increase milk supply. But beware! Power pumping every single day for an hour is exhausting, draining, and not necessary. And worse! Your body will plateau and get used to pumping for the full hour, making shorter pumping sessions harder to achieve. Instead, keep Power Pumping limited to once a month and only for 3-4 consecutive days. This is a great way to stimulate the effects of a growth spurt or cluster feedings. Expect to see an increase in about a week. Learn more about Power Pumping here.
3. The Triple Feeding Nightmare
Ugh, Triple Feeding, just reading those words can be overwhelming. Nurse at the breast, bottle feed baby, then pump. Repeat over and over at EVERY feeding. This advice, in theory, makes sense but is it realistic? As an IBCLC, I speak to so many parents ready to quit their breastfeeding journey because they simply can’t keep up with the triple feeding schedule. Instead, single pump while doing skin to skin with baby. Practice nursing between feedings because we know a “hangry baby” will be more difficult to latch. Try using a supplemental nursing system at the breast, which can encourage more nursing and less bottle feeding. Work on a few nursing sessions a day instead of every feeding. This can ease your mind for a bit and give you some much-needed rest and downtime.
Sample Pumping Schedules
Set reminders, block off pumping times on your calendar, and aim for 8x per day 20 min each. Pump when baby eats can be an easy-to-follow schedule, especially during the newborn phase.
Newborn 8x per day
7am, 10am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm, 12am, and 4am
After 12 weeks, 6x per day
6am, 10am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm, 10pm
Nursing and Pumping
The best time to pump will always be in the morning, 30 min or so after nursing your baby. In the morning, prolactin (milk-making hormone) peaks; take advantage of this time and pump. You can do single or double pumping. Expect to see between ½ – 2 oz combined. If you’re returning to work, start pumping more consistently about 2-3 weeks before your return. A few days before you head back, pump at times you will be pumping at work.
It’s OK if you don’t pump at the same time every day! Skipping a pumping session or going over in-between times occasionally shouldn’t have a drastic effect on your supply. Focus your energy on consistency and commitment! Don’t dwell on what happened in the past and push forward towards your pumping goals.
Need help managing your pump schedule? Our highly skilled Spectra IBCLCs can help! Schedule your complimentary consultation today.