Helpful Breastfeeding And Pumping Schedule Tips For The Busy Mom

breastfeeding and pumping schedule

Many women breastfeed by nursing and pumping milk. 

Pumping schedules that work around nursing sessions are essential to set and then maintain, especially if:

  • You are just trying to keep up your milk supply,
  • Grow a freezer stash of breast milk with pumping sessions, 
  • Anticipate going back to work, or 
  • Having a medical procedure that will prohibit you from being able to nurse your baby for a while.

This article will focus on learning how to set up a breastfeeding and pumping schedule so that you don’t have to worry about diminished breast milk supply the next time you nurse. 

The more milk you produce, the more successful your breastfeeding journey will be.

Breastfeeding and pumping schedule

Women who decide to start pumping while nursing has the difficult task of figuring out a schedule in which they can use their breast pump while also offering the breast to their baby.

It can seem daunting and scary at first, but it can be done, and having a solid support system at home and in your place of work will make a big difference in how successful you are at it.

Being a new parent is overwhelming, whether it’s your first new baby or your tenth. No two babies are the same; they all have different sleep schedules, needs, personalities, and obstacles.

Working in yet another set of routines and schedules may seem impossible when you add bath time, bedtime, tummy time, work time, time with your family, and your “me time” into the equation. 

But it’s not impossible, and it’s not as much extra work as it may seem.

When you are exclusively pumping or nursing, you only have to work out one schedule to keep up milk production and flow.

You have to think more strategically when you go from exclusive pumping to also nurse or from exclusive nursing to adding in pumping sessions.

Why do both?

Why would any woman want to do both if she can keep up her milk supply by just nursing or with exclusive pumping? 

Well, there are many reasons for that. 

It’s no one’s idea of a great time to spend most of your day attached to a breast pump or a baby, so it’s certainly not done because it’s a blast.

For some, it’s out of necessity; for others, it’s out of convenience. No matter the reason, it’s your decision and no one else’s.

The following are some reasons moms find it necessary to breastfeed and pump.

1. To care for a premature baby

Sometimes women plan to nurse their little ones, but the baby comes early. A preemie who needs to go to the NICU is often unable to breastfeed immediately, but if breastfeeding is ever going to work, the mom needs to start pumping sessions with a breast pump so that her body will start making more milk.

Some women are encouraged by hospital staff to pump as soon as their preemie is delivered so that the milk can be refrigerated and fed directly to the little one. 

After all, breast milk, especially the first few doses of colostrum known as liquid gold, is jam-packed full of antibodies and nutrients that are incredibly beneficial to a premature baby.

2. To increase your milk supply

Pumping breast milk is a great way to increase your milk supply. Power pumping is one way most lactation consultants suggest you push your body to produce more milk. This can and is often done in tandem with nursing.

Remember that maintaining a proper diet and staying hydrated are of utmost importance to your milk supply. 

No matter how much you pump, if you don’t keep yourself healthy, fed, and hydrated, you won’t be able to increase your supply. It simply won’t work.

3. To augment your supply if you’re a working mom

Working moms don’t usually have the option to nurse at work because most moms can’t bring their babies to work with them. 

This is why a lot of working moms combine breastfeeding and pumping. 

They have a breastfeeding schedule observed when they can be around their baby and a pumping routine for when they are not around their babies.

breastfeeding and pumping schedule

Sample breastfeeding and pumping schedule for newborn

A pumping schedule doesn’t need to be overly complicated.

Pumping sessions can be worked around your regular schedule and even around your breastfeeding schedule. Breastfeeding and pumping are a bit more hectic and time-consuming than doing just one or the other, but for many women, once the routine is implemented, it just becomes a regular part of the day.

You should be able to get a sample pumping schedule from your lactation consultant or doctor, but pumping schedules all look alike for the most part. 

You can go a bit longer between feeding sessions as your infant gets older, but for the intents and purposes of this article, we will use a newborn baby as our example.

The following are some examples of breastfeeding and pumping schedules that you can use, depending on why you want to do so.

Pumping schedule to increase milk supply

You may want to start power pumping to increase your breast milk supply. 

When you power pump, you trick your body into producing more milk for your baby by making your body think that your baby is engaged in cluster feeding.

Breast pumps mimic cluster feeding, so breast pumping the milk can help you build up a supply if your milk flow slows.

Power pump for one hour

The best time to power pump is after you have breastfed your baby. This process takes an hour. Many women find that the best time to start a power-pumping session is after the baby goes to bed for the evening.

Begin pumping and continue for 20 minutes. Then take a ten-minute break. Then pump again for ten minutes, followed by another ten-minute break. Then, end by pumping for another ten minutes.

This should help you to build enough milk supply in milk storage bags to build a freezer stash over time, as well as help you to build up your supply to nurse your breastfeeding baby.

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Pumping to build a freezer stash

Contrary to what some may tell you, you don’t want to be an over-supplier. This means that you don’t want to produce milk to the point that your breasts are always full. 

This can lead to complications, pain, infection, and mastitis. Not to mention injury, as breast tissue doesn’t do well being manipulated, squeezed, and pulled on constantly.

For building up a stash in your freezer in case of emergency, you don’t need to have a full pumping schedule. 

All you want to do is have a little extra milk on hand. The following is a great sample pumping schedule to collect milk to keep in the freezer.

Freezer stash pumping schedule

Nurse your baby on your regular breastfeeding schedule, and add in two sessions per day, about half an hour after a breastfeeding session, in which you use your electric pump for milk removal. Stop pumping after fifteen to twenty minutes.

You only need to do this twice a day. You can do it in the early morning after your first breastfeeding session and then again in the early evening after your last breastfeeding session before your baby’s bedtime.

Baby nursing should always come before implementing a pumping and breastfeeding schedule. So if you intend to begin daily pumping, make sure you leave plenty of time for your baby to actively nurse.

Working mom sample schedule

New moms who have to go back to work after maternity leave, or those new moms who don’t get maternity leave, may think that pumping and breastfeeding won’t work out or that they won’t be able to keep their milk up and hold a job.

This is not accurate, however. 

In fact, United States federal law protects pumping mothers for the first year. Your workplace has to afford you the time and the private space to do your pumping.

Pumping on the go

First of all, if you are going to be pumping at work, away from your baby, you need to have a great pump.

A hospital-grade electrical pump is a great option. Make sure that it’s a closed system.

Manual pumps can be great when you are engorged or full and need a bit of relief, but hand expression won’t get you as much milk as needed. 

Breast pumps plugged into the wall, battery-operated, or worn without relying on your hand strength are necessary.

If you are pumping, remember to stick to the same nursing schedule you observed at home. If you usually nurse every three hours, you should be pumping every three hours.

The only exception to this rule is if you get off work and nurse your baby when you get home will put you a little behind schedule. In this case, use your best judgment, but it’s typically recommended that you wait until the next feeding chance in person.

breastfeeding and pumping schedule

Tips for pumping breast milk while nursing

Many tips and suggestions will help you succeed and have the best pumping experience possible. The following are some of the best tips for everyone from a working mom to a freezer stash mom.

1. Don’t space pumping and breastfeeding out too far

It is not advisable to space out pumping or breastfeeding for a long time. You can go up to four hours without a pumping or feeding session, but you should never go beyond that.

Waiting longer may result in a hungry baby and a slower letdown resulting in longer pumping sessions to get much output. You may also end up with an increased risk of mastitis.

You will get the most milk from maintaining a good schedule that sees you pump at least one breast every three hours.

2. Engage in breast massage before you pump

Before you pump, encourage your letdown with a massage. This will simulate rooting, a reflex that your baby has, and can trigger the milk in your breasts to descend into the milk ducts.

This can also be done on a breast pump with low suction.

3. Keep extra pump parts on hand

All the pump parts you have will probably have to be replaced. 

Having extra parts with you can keep your pump in good working order, and it also means that you don’t have to skip a session with your pump (or several) while you track down, order, and purchase spare parts.

Also, regularly clean your pump parts and keep an ice pack ready whenever you leave the house and may have to use your pump.

Making a breastfeeding and pumping schedule work for you

You may want to pump and actively feed your child from the breast for many reasons: whether it’s because your child can’t get a reliable latch due to a tongue tie, or you’re busy at work, or simply because it’s what you want to do, developing a routine for feeding and while setting aside time to pump is entirely possible.

Create a schedule that works for you and doesn’t stress you out. If you need more guidance, speak to your doctor and lactation specialist about establishing a feeding routine and finding time to pump into your specific lifestyle. You can do this!

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