Learn When to Pump from UnityPoint - Cedar Rapids

When and how should I pump my milk?

Reasons or times to pump your breasts to remove milk

  • If baby cannot latch or nurse well.  Pump every time baby attempts or every 1-3 hours, 8-10x/24 hours)
  • If your breasts are still full after breastfeeding baby or baby only nursed a short time or only nursed on one breast at a feeding.  (This might occur with engorgement also)
  • If baby is preterm (born before 37 ½ weeks gestation) or is sleepy at breast when nurses 
  • If you are using a nipple shield to nurse baby
  • If you are away from baby and baby cannot nurse at your breast
  • Every time your baby feeds from a bottle. It is recommended to wait about 3-4 weeks before introducing a bottle to your baby. This helps breastfeeding and your milk supply to become well established. 
There are 3 steps to early breast pumping  
  • Massage your breasts for 1-2 minutes before pumping
  • Pump your breasts 15-20 minutes.  (15 minutes first few days, increase to 15 - 20 minutes as milk supply increases)
  • Hand express drops of colostrum about 2 minutes from each breast after pumping (especially in the first few days when you are not pumping very much milk/colostrum). Hand expression may remove more milk than early pumping & helps make milk faster.
To store pumped breast milk or increase your supply, pump 10-15 minutes right after baby has breastfed.  When pumping in place of a breastfeeding, pump 15 or 20 minutes.  

To remove breast milk, you may hand express or use a breast pump. Please call the St. Luke's Lactation Consultant with questions at (319) 369-8944.