When should you start pumping if you are nursing?
For many nursing moms, knowing when to start pumping and how to keep the momentum going is one of the most challenging things to figure out. Things can get quite difficult when you have to balance your hectic schedule with taking care of a newborn.
In this guide, you’ll learn when the best time to start pumping is especially if you are nursing. We’ll also offer tips and tricks that will help you get the most out of pumping as a nursing mom.
When to start pumping
Experts recommend waiting until your baby is at least 6 weeks old before you can start pumping. Before then, only use hand expression to remove excess milk as needed.
As long as your baby is healthy and gaining weight well and there is no urgent need for separation, you do not need to rush into pumping. Take your time to establish a breastfeeding routine that you will keep using even after you start pumping.
That said, some women start pumping immediately after birth. Here are a few reasons why you may have to start pumping immediately after birth:
- Your healthcare provider recommends it due to certain issues such as low birth weight, your baby having low blood sugar at birth, or your baby having high bilirubin levels leading to jaundice.
- You are separated from your baby due to medical reasons and you have to pump and conserve the milk until you are reunited.
- You have to return to work soon. In this case, you may have to start pumping about three to four weeks before your return date to build your stockpiles and get used to pumping.
Pumping during pregnancy is not recommended. It can lead to the production of labour-inducing hormones which can lead to premature birth.
What is the best time to pump?
The best time of day to pump will vary depending on you and your little one’s schedule. That said, most women have found that they produce the most milk when they pump first thing in the morning.
This happens because your body produces prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production, as you sleep. Your body is also relaxed at night, and this jumpstarts your milk production for the day.
You can breastfeed your baby first thing in the morning then pump both breasts for 10 to 15 minutes each. Do this daily to build a huge stockpile of breast milk.
You can also pump right after a nursing session, or in between sessions to encourage milk production. If your baby nurses every four hours pump every two hours. This technique will help boost your milk supply.
If you are dealing with a low milk supply, talk to your lactation consultant to come up with a personalized pumping schedule. If you are pumping after a nursing session, 10 minutes on each breast should be more than enough. If you are pumping to replace a breastfeeding session, pump until the milk stops actively dropping.
If you are away from your baby for one reason or another, pump as often as your baby would normally feed until the milk stops actively flowing. This will trick your body into thinking your baby is still breastfeeding, and your supply will not be affected.
If you have an 8-hour work day and you need to pump at work, here is a sample schedule you can use:
- Breastfeed in the morning before heading to work
- Pump once mid-morning
- Pump again in 2 to 3 hours
- Have one more pumping session before heading home
As a nursing mom, it is important to get started with pumping the right way. Hopefully, this guide has helped you figure out when to start pumping while breastfeeding. As long as you understand the ins and outs of pumping and have a good idea of the best pumping practices outlined above, you should be able to get the most out of each pumping session.