Becoming a new mother is a wonderful and exciting time, though there are a lot of things to consider before giving birth. Knowing how and when to feed your baby is crucial to a baby's growth. That means you'll need to create a schedule for yourself if you plan to pump your own breast milk.
How can you set up the best breast pump schedule for your needs?
If you're a soon-to-be-mother, we've got you covered. Here are a few things you need to know about creating and maintaining a healthy breast pump schedule.
Establishing Your Breast Milk Supply
If you want to get a head-start on your baby's food supply, then the best time to start pumping is the moment you begin producing milk- at the hospital right after birth!
Starting up your breast pump schedule right off the bat will not only establish a milk supply for your baby. Milk pumping helps to encourage milk production and is a great way to initiate a breastfeeding session with your baby.
Getting milk ready right away is extra important if you have a baby that is unable to feed immediately, such as a premature baby. Pumping and storing your milk will ensure your baby can be well fed later.
Of course, not every new mom will want to pump right after giving birth. Waiting a few weeks before you create a pumping schedule is an option as well; it is your choice whether you want to bottle feed exclusively or combine breast and bottle feeding throughout the day.
How Often Should I Pump?
The amount of time you spend pumping depends on your child's needs and your own existing schedule. Try to determine when you normally would feed your baby throughout the day and pump during those times; these sessions should be about three hours apart or more.
You may want to spend some time increasing your supply of breast milk for emergency situations. The best time to add sessions to your pumping schedule is right away in the morning, as this is when your breasts are naturally more full.
For moms who are non-exclusive pumpers, you may not be able to pump between each breastfeeding session, as this can wear you down and deplete your breast milk supply. Listen to your body and let it rest when it needs to. Just like with exclusive pumping, you can schedule more milk pumping sessions in the morning after you have produced more milk.
Power pumping is a great way to increase the amount of milk you get each time you pump. It is meant to mimic the way a baby feeds and is thought to increase the production of prolactin, a hormone that increases milk production.
A sample power pump schedule looks like this:
- 20 minutes of pumping
- 10 minutes of rest
- 10 minutes of pumping
- 10 minutes of rest
- Final 10 minutes of pumping
If you are unable to pump for a full hour, there is a 30-minute alternative. Pump for 10 minutes, then rest for 10, pump another 10, rest another 10, and finished with a final 10 minutes of pumping.
Power pumping is especially helpful if your baby hits a growth spurt and requires more food than usual. Pay close attention to your baby's needs and follow their demands!
Storing Breast Milk
Do you have a lot of breast milk saved up that you aren't sure what to do with? Lucky for you, breast milk can be stored and frozen for later use! Check your milk pumping kit; there's a chance that you may have received free storage containers with the kit for your milk.
If you weren't given storage containers with your purchase, you can use milk feeding bottles or special bags designed to hold breast milk when storing your milk. It's best to store smaller quantities so that they can be thawed easily when they're needed. Freezing 3 to 4 ounces of milk at a time is a general good practice!
Breast milk can stay fresh in the fridge for up to 4 days and safe in the freezer for up to 6 months! Make sure you label each container with the date they were stored before freezing them and always use the oldest containers of breast milk first. This will prevent unnecessary spoilage.
Extra Tips to Make the Most of Your Breast Pump Schedule
There are a few additional things you should keep in mind when creating your breast pumping schedule, as well as a few tips that will make the pumping process easier for you.
For starters, you should strongly consider how you want to feed your baby ahead of time. Do you want to exclusively feed with a bottle or would you prefer to breastfeed on occasion? This will give you a better idea of how often you will need to pump.
Set up a specific, comfortable location where you can pump in peace. Pumping can be stressful on your body, so it's important to take the steps to keep yourself relaxed and comfortable beforehand.
Massaging the breasts or using a warm compress is a great way to relax the breasts and encourage milk production. It can also make the milk pumping process less uncomfortable.
Finally, be aware of the proper way to use your breast milk pump. Make sure the pump is properly centered with a tight seal before usage, and try to start yourself off with a low suction to make it easier on your breasts.
Keep Your Baby Healthy and Happy
Figuring out the right breast pump schedule for you doesn't need to be a chore. Just remember that every mom may have a slightly different schedule, so don't feel pressured to stick to one strict method of milk pumping!
Are you close to your due date and aren't sure where to shop for breast pumps and pumping accessories?
We're here to help. Contact us with any questions or concerns you have about our breast pumps and continue reading our blog for more helpful tips!