If you are exclusively pumping, you may feel overwhelmed with all the time spent pumping. You can get back some control in your life by using a pumping schedule for exclusive pumpers!
This pumping schedule will change every month or two as your baby grows older.
When you start out exclusively pumping, you will be spending a lot of time with your pump.
Then, as your baby gets older, many moms are able to drop pumping sessions and gain some time back in their day.
Here are some easy pumping schedules to follow if you are exclusively pumping. You can follow these schedules when your baby is:
- A newborn
- 2 months old
- 3-4 months old
- 5-6 months old
- 7-8 months old
- 9-12 months old
- 1 year or older
Below are a few tips and frequently asked questions on how to figure out the right pumping schedule for you.
- How to determine a good pumping schedule
- Do you have to pump on a schedule?
- What if you miss a pumping session?
- Do you need to pump at night?
- Pumping schedules for twins
Supplies To Make Exclusive Pumping Easier
When you commit to exclusive pumping, there are a few things that will make your life much easier.
First, a good pumping bra is definitely necessary if you are using a traditional pump like a Spectra S1 or S2. Here is a link to my favorite pumping bra (and this link and code Lisa15 gives you a discount).
Second, I needed a pumping bag that could hold ALL of my stuff.
Whenever I left the house, I needed a bag that could carry my pump, extra pump parts, a cooler, plus all the normal diaper bag stuff. Here is my favorite pumping bag where you can see all the cute colors and patterns it comes in (on Amazon).
Third, pumping with a hands-free pump is a huge game changer.
The Willow really helped me to continue my pumping journey until my baby was a year old. The drawback is that this pump is fairly pricey. I found that you can find the best deals on the Willow pump by clicking here.
You can also find out more details about the Willow in my article here: Is The Willow Pump Worth It? (All the Pros and Cons).
What Is A Good Pumping Schedule?
A good pumping schedule takes into account 4 things:
- How far you are postpartum (number of weeks or months)
- The amount of milk you pump per session
- Your pumping goals (build a freezer stash, provide only breast milk, etc)
- How much time you are willing to spend pumping
The first thing to consider, the number of weeks or months you are postpartum, impacts your milk supply. Your milk supply is hormone-driven for about the first 12 weeks postpartum.
After that time frame, your milk supply is based on supply and demand.
The amount of milk you pump per session can vary from woman to woman. This is because some women have more milk ducts and a larger breast milk storage capacity than others.
If you have a small storage capacity, then you will need to pump more frequently than another mom who has a large capacity.
Pumping goals may also vary from one mom to another. One mom may want to build a freezer stash, where another mom may be ok supplementing with formula if it means that she spends less time pumping.
If you are trying to build a freezer stash or exclusively pump for a year, then you may need to pump more frequently.
A mom with a goal is to provide as much breast milk as she can, but then supplement the rest with formula may pump less frequently.
The last factor is to figure out how much time per day you are willing to spend pumping. Especially if you are an “under-supplier” or “just-enougher” the mental grind can wear you down.
Keep in mind that your mental health is important, and exclusively pumping is hard work!
Tip: Save this pin to your Baby or Breastfeeding Board on Pinterest so you can find it later!
Keep reading for all of the pumping schedules by month!
Choose The Right Pumping Goal For You
In my experience, I found that over time, my pumping goal changed.
When my daughter was a newborn, my goal was to provide her with only breastmilk. As I reached 9 months postpartum, I made peace with supplementing.
Instead of having the goal to provide only breastmilk, I changed my goal to pump 3 times per day.
If my daughter needed more milk than what I was able to pump in 3 sessions, then I was ok to supplement with formula.
I decided that in our situation, I was happy to provide some of her feedings with breast milk. This meant that she could still get the benefits of breast milk but I was also able to spend less time pumping.
If any of these schedules do not work for you, just know that you can tweak it for your situation.
Do You Have To Pump On A Schedule?
Most moms choose to pump on a schedule. This is because a routine helps with milk supply and prevents leaks.
A schedule can also help you stay consistent with getting all your pumping sessions finished during the day. However, if a set schedule does not work with your life, you do not have to pump on a schedule.
Here are a few things to consider when deciding to follow a schedule.
Benefits To Pumping On A Schedule:
- A schedule can help you to establish and maintain your milk supply.
- Your body becomes trained to refill your milk supply at a designated time
- Some moms have an easier time with letdowns when they follow a schedule
- It can prevent you from leaking if you go too long between pumping sessions
Cons To Pumping On A Schedule:
- Life with a newborn can be chaotic, and your newborn may need to be held or cared for during your pumping time
- Your partner or family members may not be available to help when you need to pump
- You may need to adjust your pumping times depending on your work schedule, errands, or doctors appointments
What If I Miss A Pumping Session?
If you miss a pumping session, try to pump as soon as possible. For example, your schedule may be that you normally pump at 3pm and 6pm.
You miss the 3pm pumping session because you are stuck in a work meeting until 4pm. Start your next pump at 4pm. Get back on schedule with your next pump at 6pm.
Pro Tip: If you miss a pumping session every once in awhile, it will be ok. Missing a pumping session one time won’t kill your milk supply or trigger weaning.
Just try not to make it a regular habit, unless your goal is to produce less milk.
This is because some moms will notice a drop in their milk supply when they start getting lax and skip pumping sessions often.
Do I Need To Pump At Night?
Yes, most moms need to pump at night if they are exclusively pumping.
A good rule of thumb to follow is that if your baby is eating from the bottle at night, then you probably need to be pumping for every bottle feeding.
It can be really hard to keep up with the pumping sessions in the middle of the night. It is especially hard during those first few months when you are exhausted and caring for a newborn.
It is really important to keep up with the middle of the night pumping sessions while you are trying to establish your milk supply. This is from birth until 12 weeks postpartum.
Many women also choose to keep up the middle of the night pumping session because that is the time when they produce the most milk.
I went back to work when I was 5 months postpartum. At that time, I decided to drop my middle of the night pump.
I made the decision that if I needed to supplement with formula, I was ok with trading some formula for some extra sleep at night.
Exclusive Pumping Schedules For Twins
If you have twins, you can also follow the pumping schedules outlined below. Your body knows that you gave birth to two babies.
Depending on your pumping goals and milk supply, you may need to make a few tweaks.
If your goal is to provide only breast milk for your twins, then you may not be able to drop pumps as early as moms with singletons. This is because you are trying to pump twice the amount of milk.
If you are comfortable supplementing with formula, you can follow these same pumping schedules.
You already have a lot on your plate taking care of twins, and you need to make sure to take care of yourself too.
Pro Tip: If you have twins and want to bump up your milk supply, I found that this protein powder was amazing. You should definitely check it out for a quick boost to your supply and an easy way to get in some healthy calories.
How Many Times Should I Pump In 24 Hours
If you are an exclusively pumping mom, you should pump anywhere from 4 to 12 times per 24 hour period. This will depend on how old your baby is, and on your milk supply.
For example, if your baby is less than 3 months old, you should pump anywhere from 8 to 12 times during a 24 hour period. If your baby is older, then you can usually pump less frequently.
Exclusive Pumping Schedule For A Newborn
Moms who are exclusively pumping for a newborn will need to keep up a rigorous pumping schedule. My lactation consultant recommended pumping between 8 and 12 times per day when my baby was a newborn.
It can feel exhausting to pump this frequently and take care of a newborn. Just remember that this time is crucial to establishing your milk supply.
It helped me to know that this will not last forever and exclusively pumping gets easier as your baby gets older.
If you do not get a lot of milk during each pumping session when your baby is a newborn, that is normal.
You have a small milk supply at the beginning to match the size of your newborn’s stomach.
Babies who are only a few weeks old have a very small stomach, and this means they need to drink small amounts of milk frequently.
If you were directly nursing or breastfeeding, then it is not unusual for your baby to eat every 2 hours.
If you are exclusively pumping, you should mimic this same schedule to establish your milk supply.
Pro Tip: When I pumped for my second daughter, I found that a Willow was so helpful to fit in all those extra pumping sessions. It was a huge lifesaver. Click here to find the best price and see if they are currently running a discount.
Sample Pumping Schedule For A Newborn
If you have a newborn, try to maintain this schedule of about 10 pumps per day for at least the first 4-6 weeks.
During the first few weeks, you will pump every 2 hours during the day and every 3-4 hours at night.
This schedule allows you to have a 3 hour stretch of sleep from 9pm to midnight, and a 4 hour stretch of sleep from midnight to 4am.
When I was pumping so frequently during the day, I usually spent about 20 minutes per pumping session.
During the 4am and 6am pumping sessions I would typically extend the pumping sessions to 25 or 30 minutes.
This is because I was most engorged during that time and the longer sessions helped me to produce the most milk.
When pumping for a newborn, here are a few general guidelines to follow:
- If you cannot keep up the pace of 10 pumping sessions per day, try to not drop below 8 pumping sessions.
- Try not to go more than 4 hours between any pumping session, measured from the beginning of each session
- The hormones that help you to produce milk are at their peak during the middle of the night, so many moms are able to pump the most milk during pumping sessions between midnight and 5am.
If you want to see 5 more examples of pumping schedules for a newborn (including breastfeeding and pumping schedules), click here to check out my other article.
Exclusive Pumping Schedule For A 2 Month Old
When exclusively pumping for a two month old, you should have a pumping schedule that allows you to pump anywhere from 8 to 10 pumps per day.
At 2 months postpartum, your body is usually producing milk based on your postpartum hormones.
Keeping up a frequent pumping schedule will help to establish your milk supply.
After the first few weeks postpartum, you may be able to drop down to 8 pumping sessions per day.
It may be really tempting to drop more pumping sessions. The best advice I have is to keep up with it until after your hormones have regulated once you are about 12 weeks postpartum.
Pro Tip: Even if you have an oversupply at the beginning, you may want to keep up with it and start creating a freezer stash. This stash could benefit you if your supply dips a little when you go back to work or when you get your period back.
It is much easier to slowly reduce your supply than it is to build it back up once it has dropped.
Sample Pumping Schedule for a 2 Month Old
With this pumping schedule, you will pump every 2 hours during the morning, 3 hours in the afternoon/evening, and every 4 hours at night.
You will get 2 stretches of sleep where you have 4 hours between pumping sessions, from 10pm to 2am, and then from 2am to 6am.
My lactation consultant told me that it was important to not go more than 4 hours between pumping sessions until I was over 12 weeks postpartum.
That is because before that time, you are still building up your milk supply.
Exclusive Pumping Schedule For A 3 to 4 Month Old
Now that your baby is a little older, you can experiment with your schedule by dropping a pumping session. When your baby is 3 to 4 months old, try pumping 7 times per day.
At this time, your hormones regulate your milk supply. When figuring out your pumping schedule, pay close attention to how your milk supply responds over the following few days and the next week.
If you are happy with your milk supply at 7 pumps per day, then keep this schedule up. If you have dropped in supply, add back a pumping session or try power pumping.
Related: Power Pumping To Boost Your Milk Supply
This schedule has you pumping about every 3 hours in the morning and every 3 to 4 hours in the evening and overnight.
Sample Pumping Schedule For A 3 To 4 Month Old
With this schedule, you get a few long stretches between pumping sessions in the evening and overnight. You will have 4 hours from 6pm-10pm, 4 hours from 10pm to 2am, and another 4 hours from 2am to 6am.
You might be tempted to drop the middle of the night pumping session at this point.
The problem with dropping this session is that most women produce the most milk during the middle of the night session.
You should be careful with dropping it because it may impact your milk supply.
If you are thinking about dropping the middle of the night pump, test it out for yourself. After a week if your supply is still at a good level, then you might be ok without it.
If not, you might need to add it back into your schedule. If you are looking for a few other ways to increase your milk supply, check out this article I wrote on natural ways to increase milk supply.
Exclusive Pumping Schedule For A 5 to 6 Month Old
You might be wondering how often you should pump for a five or six month old. Depending on your milk supply, many women are able to pump 6 times per day for a baby this age if they are exclusively pumping.
After your baby is 5 or 6 months old, your milk supply should be well established. For most moms, you will be able to drop another pumping session.
After you drop it, watch your supply for a few days and make sure that you are still happy with the amount of milk that you are expressing. If not, you can always go back to the prior schedule.
Your baby may also start solids around this time too and may start to drink less milk. Just keep track and make sure that your baby is satisfied after eating and drinking.
Even if you are starting solids, receiving breast milk (or formula) is still the most important nutrition for your baby until they turn one.
This schedule gives you a few longer stretches to sleep at night, but still keeps the middle of the night pumping session.
You’ll have a 5-hour stretch from 8pm to 1am to sleep, and another 5 hour stretch from 1am to 6am to sleep.
You will also get some more time back during the day, with only 5 sessions during the day.
Example Pumping Schedule For A 7 to 8 Month Old
Here is a sample schedule once your baby has reached the 7-month or 8-month mark.
Congrats, you have made it past 6 months of breastfeeding. As your baby gets older, hopefully, your pumping journey has gotten easier.
Many moms will be able to drop another pumping session at this time. You can try dropping your middle of the night pump.
Again, just test it out and see how your milk supply is impacted. You can always add it back in.
This schedule will give you that glorious 8 hour stretch of sleep at night, from 10pm to 6am. You’ll also get more time back during your day with only 5 pumping sessions.
You may need to work up to this schedule slowly depending on if you are engorged or leaking during the middle of the night.
Dropping a pumping session during the night may need to be done slowly so you are comfortable.
Exclusive Pumping Schedule For a 9 to 12 Month Old
Now that your little one is nine, ten, or eleven months old, you may be able to drop another pumping session. You may be able to drop down to pumping only 4 times per day.
Sometimes weaning is triggered when you drop down to 2 or 3 pumps per day.
If your goal is to maintain your milk supply, I would keep pumping at least 4 times per day until you are ready to wean.
More Pumping Tips
I hope that these pumping schedules help you out during your pumping journey.
I’ve been there and keeping up with exclusively pumping is definitely hard work. You are a rockstar and doing the best you can for your baby!
Be sure to Save this to your Pumping Board on Pinterest so you can reference it later.
Follow Pumping Mamas on Pinterest so you don’t miss out any useful pumping tips.
I negotiated several discounts on pumping and breastfeeding items for all of you. Click here to check out all of the discounts from brands like the Willow breast pump, Kiinde, LaVie, Legendairy Milk supplements, and more!
Must-Have Pumping Gear
Hear are a few of my favorite pumping items that made my life so much easier.
- This is the best pumping bra that is actually comfortable to wear all day long (the Sublime version). Use this link and code Lisa15 for a special discount on your purchase!
- Try the Chocolate Fudge flavor of this yummy milk-boosting protein powder.
- Click here for the best deal on the WillowGo pump!
- These are the best baby bottle labels that will not wash off or wear off. The pineapple design and the whale design are two of my favorites.
- My favorite pumping bag that is roomy enough for my pump, a laptop, a cooler, and a lunch bag. They have so many cute colors and prints but I really love the Floral print.
- These custom baby name onesies I found on Etsy are so adorable I ended up buying them in two different colors. The shop even has a really cute matching mommy and me set.
- I used this tiny mini fridge (link to Amazon) near my pumping station at home so I didn’t have to trek to the kitchen after a middle of the night pumping session.
- This postpartum care box has a couple of my must-have items for the first few months after baby arrives. The tubes that help with engorgement provide so much relief.
- If you enjoyed this article, you can help support this blog by buying me a coffee here. Your support is very much appreciated!
NEXT, Check out these articles:
- The Ultimate Guide To A Spectra Pump
- Replacing Pump Parts: The Secret For Maximum Milk
- Exclusive Pumpers: All Your Questions Answered