If you’re a new mom or new to exclusive pumping, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed by all the information on how to become an exclusive pumper the “right way”!
Don’t let the idea of creating an exclusive pumping schedule scare you. Creating a schedule is easy; it’s following through that’s the challenge!
To create an exclusive pumping schedule that works best for you, you must first understand your baby’s feeding routine. This includes how many ounces your baby drinks at each feeding? and how often they feed?
Your answer to this question will be your guide, letting you (mom) know how much breast milk you should be expressing during each pumping session and how often you should be pumping to mimic your baby’s natural “on-demand” feeding.
With this learned information, you can begin to figure out how long you should be pumping for during each session in order to pump the amount your baby needs.
Let’s get started!
How much breast milk does a newborn consume during each feeding?
In the first 24 hours, your baby will consume very little milk, about 5-7 ml (less than an ounce) during each feed, but you should also know your baby will do more sleeping than eating the first 24 hours.
By day 3, your baby will begin drinking about 1 ounce of breast milk per feeding. When your baby reaches their first week, they will be drinking about 2 ounces (sometimes even 3 ounces) during each feed until they are about two weeks old.
At two weeks old, you can expect your newborn to be drinking 2.5- 3 ounces per feeding.
From about week 4 to 6 months old, your baby will be consuming about 4-6 ounces until you introduce solids.
How many times a day will a newborn feed?
A newborn baby drinks breast milk every 2-3 hours in the first few weeks until their stomach gets bigger, and they can hold more milk.
How often should you pump when exclusive pumping a newborn?
Since your newborn baby will be feeding every 2-3 hours in the first months, That’s 8-12 feeding in 24 hours.
As an exclusive pumper, your goal is to follow a newborn’s “on-demand” feeding schedule as they would on the breast, which is about every 2-3 hours, 8-12 pumping sessions a day.
(This does not include cluster feeding which happens from time-to-time)
Pumping every 2-3 hours is essential in the beginning to encourage milk production and build the milk supply your baby needs.
I know how crazy pumping 8-12 times a day for a few months’ sounds, but it is possible, and you can do it if it’s what YOU want!
How many ounces should you be pumping every 2-3 hours?
After the first week, you should be producing 2-3 ounces each session. I say after the first week because, for some first-time moms, milk comes in slower than others (mine did).
In the first week, I wasn’t producing enough milk for a complete feed, so I had to supplement with formula in the hospital and the first week home until I increased my milk supply.
How long should you pump for?
Experts like Kellymom and La Leche League say that exclusive pumping moms should pump both breasts simultaneously to save time and that the session should be 15-20 mins. However, they did also mention that the duration can vary between moms.
When I first started breast pumping, I was desperate for my breast milk to come in, so I pumped for 30-45mins during each session to encourage more milk production.
Once my milk came in, I pumped until my spectra pump automatically turned off at 30mins.
What kind of exclusive pumping schedule can you follow?
- Pumping as often as your baby feeds – you will basically be feeding on-demand like you would if baby latched on the breast to breastfeed.
- Pumping on a Set Schedule– you will pump at the exact same time everyday. (ex. pumping every 2 hours so you pump at 6am, 8am, 10am etc.)
How strict should you be on following your pumping schedule as an exclusive pumper?
In the first 12 weeks, your mission as an exclusive pumping mom is to establish your milk supply; this means you must be very strict and consistent when following your pumping schedule.
The more consistent you are with pumping on schedule, the quicker your body will learn how much milk to produce to meet your newborn’s feeding requirements.
If you fail to stay consistent in the early weeks, you are risking your milk supply as a whole. Telling your body your baby no longer needs you to produce milk.
What if you miss a pumping session?
If you miss a pumping session, it is not the end of the world!
As soon as you can, pump your missing session and then stay on track for your next pumping session.
For example: If you missed your 2 pm session for whatever reason and your next session is at 5 pm, then if it’s 3:15 pm when you can pump, pump at that time and still pump at 5 pm as planned.
Do I have to pump at night?
Yes, as long as your baby is still waking up for night feedings, you should continue pumping during the night.
I know this is brutal in the newborn stage, but it will pass (I promise!). Allow someone to help you feed the baby (if possible) while you are pumping or after you finish pumping.
Doing it all yourself will get overwhelming!
Benefits of following an exclusive pumping schedule:
- Helps establish milk supply
- Helps maintain milk supply
- Helps increase milk supply
- Helps prevent breast engorgement.
- Helps prevent clogged milk ducts.
- Helps prevents mastitis.
How much milk should I be producing in 24hours?
According to KidsHealth.org, a newborn will drink about 1.5-3ounces of breast milk per feeding, therefore you will have to pump 1.5-3ounces per feeding to meet your baby’s needs.
Example: if your baby drinks 2 ounces every 2 hours that’s about 12 feedings a day (12×2= 24). So you would have to pump a average of 24 ounces in 24 hours.
How To Create an Exclusive Pumping Schedule?
Step 1: Decide What Kind of Schedule You Want To Follow.
Example: Let’s say you select pumping on a set schedule.
Step 2: Determine how often your baby feeds?
Example: Let’s say your baby feeds every 2 hours.
Step 3: Decide if you will pump before or after a feeding?
Example #1: If you have a bottle ready for your baby’s next feeding then you can pump after your baby feeds.
Example#2: If you don’t have a bottle ready with the necessary ounces then you should pump before it’s time to feed your baby to avoid a hungry crying baby!
Step 4: Keep track of the time you pump and how much milk you were able to pump every day.
This is so you know if your milk is increasing or decreasing.
Step 5: Stay Consistent!
Exclusive pumping is far from easy but it’s possible if you are consistent and patient!
The hardest part of an exclusive pumping schedule is committing to it! Deciding to breast pump exclusively is a choice you shouldn’t make lightly.
Having support from a loved one will make a world of difference because while you are pumping someone else can do the feeding.
I hope this post was helpful! Let me know in the comments below if you have any additional questions!
This really depends on how much milk your baby consumes a day. But on average at 6 weeks you should be pumping 24- 32 ounces a day.
3. When can I stop pumping every 3 hours?
I stopped pumping every 3 hours when my daughter stopped feeding every 3 hours.
When your baby starts consuming more ounces during each feed then you’ll stop pumping so often.