Learn When to Pump | UnityPoint - Finley Hospital

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How do I know when to pump my milk?

When & 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 UnityPoint Health Finley Hospital Lactation Consultant with questions at (563) 557-2837.