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I have a baby who's just a few weeks old. I try to pump bottles occasionally, so that my baby will be used to the bottle, and also so that I have some mobility if it's really necessary. I'm having a difficult time deciding when to pump, though. I've found that the best time to pump, really, is right after I skipped a feeding (by giving a bottle). This is not always possible, though. Otherwise, I usually pump about a half-hour or so after a feeding, as I'm afraid to pump too close to the next one; I don't always get very much this way, though. When is the optimum time to pump?

Also, I've been pumping for about 10 minutes at a time, 5 min each side. Is this recommended? Does pumping longer mean I'll express more, or once my milk slows down/stops am I not likely to get any more? What's the average time I should spend on a pumping session?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The effectiveness of pumping varies from woman to woman, and the type/style of pump used (battery/AC/manual)

I found it easiest to pump while I was nursing my son on the other breast. I would pump for the same amount of time he nursed (anywhere between 10 minutes to a half hour). I could usually pump between 4-5 ounces during that time, with more than one 'let down' of milk.

I'd personally recommend trying what I did; that way you still have the stimulation of him nursing on the other breast to encourage letdown, and you won't 'miss' feedings which could affect your milk supply.

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I always found that I needed to pump for at least 15-20 minutes per side to make sure that I got enough.

In the beginning the more you pump there is a better chance of a larger milk supply. I pumped exclusively and in the beginning I would pump every 3 hours then I slowly spread out the times until for the last 7 months I pumped morning, noon, afternoon, and before bed.

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Depends on the pump, but 5 minutes each side was not enough for me. Generally, the more demand there is, the more supply there is. However, that's a blanket generalization and doesn't always work out to be that way for people in real life.

Do you have enough supply to support breastfeeding in general? Your situation will likely be very different if you have a condition like insufficient glandular tissue or PCOS.

Barring a supply issue, determining how long to pump is an individualized thing; for some women, 10 minutes each side is optimal, and any time after that is not worth the time and could cause excessive pain. Any time you have feelings of fullness without the baby being hungry would likely be a good time to pump. Websites about "exclusively pumping" or "EPing" can help, even if you plan to mostly breastfeed. Here's one of them.

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I have found that the two best times for me to pump are first thing in the morning and right after a hot shower. My daughter spaces her feedings out more at night, so I pump shortly after I feed her first thing in the morning. I also find the if I need to pump at a time that is not optimal and I take a hot shower, I tend to produce more - I think it is actually just because my milk lets down faster.

I have found that I need to pump about 10-15 minutes on each side. It took me a while to really figure out what was going to work best for me.

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The longer it has been since the last feeding, the easier it should be to pump. (This is what I've experienced, anyway.) If you pump a half an hour after your baby eats, there won't be as much milk left to pump.

My advice is don't worry about your pumping getting in the way of your baby's next meal. If you pump 5 minutes before he eats, he will still be able to eat until he's full. Babies are generally better at getting milk out than pumps :).

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