How Long Should I Pump? (A Doctor’s Advice)

How long should I pump?

This is a common question we receive all the time at momsABC pregnancy workshops. We’ll answer this question once and for all.

If you’re wondering how long you need to pump to produce adequate breast milk for your newborn, here’s what the doctors recommend:

New moms with the right flange size should pump between 30 – 40 minutes per session. Double breast pump requires 7 – 15 minutes pumping per session for added stimulation. Although, hand expression is often the most healthy way to breastfeed your baby so they can benefit from the colostrum.

Having a baby raises lots of questions in your mind as a mother. Should I quit my job? Should I breastfeed or use a baby formula to feed him or her?

If I breastfeed exclusively, will produce enough milk? There are lots of questions, and sometimes you can’t answer them all. 

Before we answer your question, how long should you pump? We will enlighten you on certain things you might want to consider first.

How long should you Pump?

Now, we are going to answer your initial question and the main reason for writing this article.

The length of your pumping session depends on the way you decide to feed your baby. Are you breastfeeding by pumping exclusively or are you supplementing pumping with direct breastfeeding?

One thing that is constant for both sides is that regularity of your pumping may vary, depending on whether you are pumping exclusively or supplementing, how long the pumping session is, shouldn’t change. 

For mothers on exclusive breastfeeding with their baby, there’s a need to pump as often as the baby would need.

The required number for this type of pumping would be as high as ten times or more in 24 hours. However, this number of times depends on how much milk your baby consumes in a day.

Some babies would require you to pump more, and some would require you to pump less. As a mother who is on exclusive pumping, you should not go more than 4 hours a day without pumping.

Remember, your baby would need as much as 600mL of breast milk in a day within the first 20 weeks of their life.

For mothers who supplement pumping with direct breastfeeding of their baby, you don’t worry yourself by pumping so many times.

A small number of pumping time, let say 3 or 4 times a day should be enough for you. Although this depends on your baby feeding habit and how much time you have at your disposal to feed the baby directly.

As for the length of each pumping session or how long you should pump? The best suggestion we can give you is 10 to 15 minutes before let- down ( the milk starts to drop).

Once the milk begins to flow, we suggest 25 to 30 minutes pumping session. It is essential that you know that the length of time after the let- down differs from one woman to another. 

This suggestion is for both sides as we have said earlier, the length of the session doesn’t change any matter if you are supplementing or pumping exclusively.

Why and When to Pump

We encourage breastfeeding as much as possible because it is the best way to give your baby all the nutrients they require.

Research has made us to understand that the best baby formulas out there are nothing compared to breast milk from a mother.

However, we understand the pressures a nursing mother go through. We know you can’t breastfeed your baby at anything you want to.

You have to work as well as attend to other matters that require your attention. But, there is something you can do to give your baby breast milk whenever you want to. 

That something is called a breast pump.

breast pumping

A breast pump is a device that helps you store breast milk that would be used later for your baby consumption.

Breast pump provides an effective way for you to have a steady supply of breast milk available for your baby. Several reasons exist why you should make use of a breast pump;

  • Breast pump makes it possible for your breastmilk to be open to your baby even when you are not available.
  • The breast pumps make it easy for you to feed your baby even when they are having difficulties in latching on to your breast.
  • As a mother, it is possible to have sore nipples. The use of breast pumps means your baby would have breast milk available even when you can breastfeed directly because of your sore nipples.
  • For mothers who are trying to boost their milk supply, the use of breast pumps can assist you in achieving this boost.

Aside from the reasons listed here, there are other reasons why mothers should use breast pumps.

To shed light on when you should pump the breast, you can choose to start anytime.

The time to start pumping would depend on the choice of the individual. Depending on your lifestyle and preference, you can begin pumping as early as a few days after the baby is born. 

Learning How to Pump

Often we hear mothers complain about how difficult pumping the breast can be for them.

The act of pumping the breast is not as easy as it sounds. From experience, it can be a daunting task.

The process requires a bit of learning and patience to perfect it. To learn and improve the pumping process, you need to follow some tips we would give you hear. 

  • Do some research. Try to read as much as possible on how to pump the breast. You should not be ashamed of asking a question or seek advice, how to pump the chest from friends, a family that has done it before.
  • Try to get comfortable before you begin the process of pumping.
  • Plug the pumping machine in and ensure that the batteries are working.
  • Ensure your hands are clean by washing with soap and water and dry them afterwards.
  • Put the flanges on the breast. Ensure the nipple is placed in the opening of the rims. Make sure is tight but not too close. If the edges are not sealed and do not make an air seal, which means it does not fit. Try to get the one that fits.
  • Though some mothers like to double pump, it is better to start with a single pimp at a time one breast before you move to the other. Pumping like this would make it easier for you to pump until you get used to the process. 
  • Turn on your pumping device.
  • Start the pumping with high speed and low suction until the milk begins to flow. After the liquid has started to flow, you can adjust the speed medium speed and increase the suction. However, make sure you are comfortable with whatever mode of the pump you use.

The thing about pumping is, the more you pump, the easier it would become.

What to Know Before Pumping

Though we have given you steps on how to pump the breast, there are certain things you should be aware of before you start pumping.

  • Breast pumping is best in the morning. This is the part of the day when your body is most active. The result of this is that milk-producing hormones in the body would be more active in the morning. For you to get the best out of your pumping, you should do it in the mornings.
  • Schedule your pumping session to be in between the time you breastfeed your baby. I strongly suggest 45 minutes before breastfeeding and 30 minutes or an hour after breastfeeding.
  • People are different from each other, and so are you and your baby different from your friends and their babies. Use whatever schedule that works best for you and your baby.
  • Ensure that your milk production is consistent under 24 hours.

What Breast Pumps Are Best?

To answer the question which breast pump is best? The answer would depend on the choice of the individual. However, certain conditions have made reach the verdict we are going to answer your question

  • If the baby is not nursing at all or nursing very little, we suggest you get hospital-grade or standard hospital pump. The reason for this suggestion is, this type of breast pump would allow double pump of both breasts. The dual pumping would save you time. This type of breast pump is also great for boosting milk supply and maintaining the quantity of milk produced.

When you are not able to get your hands on the hospital – standard breast pump, get any pump with double pump capability. In addition to getting the best breast pump, the flanges that are attached to the breast are equally as important. Ensure that you get flanges that are most suitable to your chest and nipples.

How Much Milk You Should Expect?

Having known how long you should pump and the steps to take as you learn how to pump, the next question on your mind should be; how much milk should my pumping session produce. The quantity of milk you should expect from each of your breast pumping session is dependent on lots of factors. These factors are:

  • The age of your baby

As your baby gets older, his or her appetite would grow. What this means is that your baby consumption would increase as he or she grows. The increase in consumption means you have to pump your breasts to produce more milk for him or her. The more you pump, the more your body would produce. The law of demand and supply applies here.

  • The type of pump you are using can also determine the amount of milk each pumping session would produce.
  • Mental state

Your mental state also plays a vital role in the quantity of milk you should expect out of each pumping session. If you are stressed or agitated, your milk supply would below. The reason for this low supply is based on the activity of hormones. The rush in adrenaline can affect the production of milk- inducing hormones. Thereby affecting your milk supply.

  • How much practice you have had with your pumping device would also be a factor. Here the phrase” practice makes perfect ” applies. The more methods you have with your pumping machine, the more you will get out of it.

Furthermore, you should expect these from your pumping session

  • There would be more milk pumped in the morning than at any other time of the day. The reason is that the body is more energetic in the morning and more relaxed too. The hormones responsible for milk production would be more active around midnight and early mornings.
  • The milk volume would decrease or reduce as the day progresses.

The average volume you should expect as a nursing mother, depending on whether you are pumping only without supplementing should be between 650mL and 1000mL in 24 hours.

However, don’t expect to get these numbers at the beginning of your pumping session.

It may take up to a month before your body can produce this quantity of milk.

What to Keep in Mind When Pumping

The length of time each pumping session or how long each pumping session should last is a matter of choice.

The important thing is to know your body and the baby feeding habits.

Gaining this knowledge is not as simple as it sounds and may take you some time. It can take as much as five weeks after the birth of the baby to work things out.

In addition to knowing how long you should pump the breasts, you should have an idea on how to store the milk pumped.

Storing the milk well is as important as knowing how to make use of the pump device.

The best way is to give the baby the breast milk immediately you pump it. Fresh breast milk is the best for the baby but, sometimes after pumping the baby might not be in the mood to feed.

The next thing you can do is to store the milk. Here are a few tips on how best to save the liquid.

Store in a freezer, refrigerator or insulated bags. You should know that if you are going to be away from your baby for an extended period of the day, you should store in a freezer. The freezer would preserve the milk more than the insured bags. If your absence would be a couple of hours, then it is best to store in the refrigerator. 

When you aren’t leaving the baby at all, but you are pumping exclusively, you can make use of the insulating bag.


Breast milk is essential to your baby’s health and development. Therefore you should ensure to make it available to your baby.

We suggest that you feed your baby for as long as six months with breast milk exclusively.

The use of breast pumps is crucial for working-class mothers. The pumps would make it possible for their baby to get his or her daily needed quantity of breast milk.

Ensure you get the best quality breast pump to get the best out of your breast pumping sessions.