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How Often Should I Pump At Work

How Often Should I Pump At Work
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If your maternity leave just ended, you may be wondering how long and how often should you pump at work. Some women pump at a set time each day, while others choose to pump whenever they need to. 

The best way to know for sure is to create a pumping schedule and to follow your body’s cues. 

Figuring Out How Often To Pump At Work

A good rule of thumb to decide how often to pump at work is to try pumping every 3 to 4 hours. However, this can be adjusted based on a few factors for your individual situation.

How often you will want to pump will depend on these factors

  • Your Baby’s Age (3 months, 6 months, 9 months, etc)
  • Your Schedule (If you work a 12 hour shift, 8 hour shift, or 4 hour shift)
  • Your Milk Supply and Comfort

How Your Baby’s Age Determines Your Pumping Frequency

One factor that will impact how often you pump is the age of your baby. If you have a younger baby, like a 3 month old, then you will need to pump more often than if you have an older baby.

An older baby (like a 6 or 9 month old) is probably starting to eat some solids. They may need a little less milk after they start solids. 

By that point, your milk supply has likely been pretty well established and you may be able to go a little longer between pumping sessions.

If you notice that your milk supply has started to drop, then there are a few things to try. 

One thing that helped me to produce more milk was using heat and massage. This product (on Amazon) was really helpful to bump up my milk supply. You can also find the heated massager on their website here (use code LISA10 for 10% off).

How Often Should I Pump At Work For A 3 Month Old

When your baby is 3 months old, you should pump 2 to 3 times during the work day. A 3 month old is still only drinking milk or formula.

You will want to pump frequently enough to provide enough milk for your baby.

For example, if you work a job from 8am to 5pm, you will probably want to nurse or pump before going to work around 7 am. You will want to pump or nurse again as soon as you get home around 6pm.

During the work day, you may take 3 pumping breaks at 10am, 12pm (during your lunch break), and then again at 3pm. 

This means you will only go about every 3 hours in between each pumping or nursing session and it will help to protect your milk supply.

Sample Pumping Schedule for 3 Month Old:

  • 7 am: Pump or Nurse before the start of your shift
  • 10 am: Pump Break
  • 12 pm: Lunch and Pump Break
  • 3 pm: Pump Break
  • 6 pm: Pump or Nurse with baby

Pro Tip: If you are finding it difficult to pump this often at work, you may want to try a hands-free pump like the Willow. You can click here to find the best deals on their website.

You can also find out more about if the Willow is worth it by checking out my article here.

How Often Should I Pump At Work for A 5 or 6 Month Old

When your little one is 5 or 6 months old, you may be able to pump every 4 hours. This means for an 8 hour shift, you may be able to get away with pumping twice during the work day.

If you work a job from 8am to 5pm, you will want to keep your pumping or nursing sessions consistent before you leave for work and when you get home. 

You will probably want to nurse or pump before leaving for work around 7 am. You will want to pump or nurse again after you are home around 6pm.

During the work day, you may take 2 pumping breaks at 11am (during your lunch break), and then again at 3pm. 

This means you will go about 4 hours in between each pumping or nursing session. This length of time should allow you to maintain your milk supply.

If you notice a dip in your milk supply and you are no longer producing enough for your baby, then you can choose to go back to the more frequent pumping schedule or to supplement with formula.

Sample Pumping Schedule for 5 or 6 Month Old:

  • 7 am: Pump or Nurse before the start of your shift
  • 11 am: Lunch and Pump Break
  • 3 pm: Pump Break
  • 6 pm: Pump or Nurse with baby

How Often Should I Pump At Work For A 9 Month Old

With a 9 month old, you will probably want to maintain the schedule of pumping every 4 hours. If you are pumping just enough milk for what your baby drinks every day, then you can keep that schedule.

If you are pumping more than what your baby eats each day, you can try pumping a little less frequently.

This is because you most likely do not need to build up a freezer stash if you plan to wean when your baby is around one year old.

Sample Pumping Schedule for a 9 Month Old:

  • 7 am: Pump or Nurse before the start of your shift
  • 11 am: Lunch and Pump Break
  • 3 pm: Pump Break
  • 6 pm: Pump or Nurse with baby

How Your Schedule Impacts How Often You Pump

As a working mom who also breastfeeds, finding time to pump can be tricky. 

So how often should you pump at work? The short answer is that you need to pump enough to keep up with your baby’s needs, but not so much that you’re forced to spend all day sitting in your office or in the lactation room pumping. 

In the US, your employer should be giving you pumping breaks as long as your baby is under 12 months old. 

How Often To Pump At Work On A 12 Hour Shift

It can be really tough to find the time to pump if you have a busy job and you are working a 12 hour shift, like if you are a nurse or working in healthcare.

Some women pump every three hours, others only one or two times in 12 hours. Some women pump every time their baby eats, and others pump as often as they feel comfortable. 

It is best to try to pump at least 3 times during a 12 hour shift, which would be about every 4 hours.

Sample Pumping Schedule for 12 Hour Shift (7am to 7pm)

  • 6 am: Pump or Nurse before the start of your shift
  • 7am: Start work
  • 10 am: Pump Break
  • 12 pm: Lunch and Pump Break
  • 4 pm: Pump Break
  • 7pm: End work
  • 8 pm: Pump or Nurse after work

With this schedule, you’ll pump 3 times during the day. Even if you do not have the time for a long pumping session, pumping for even 10 or 15 minutes is better than skipping the session.

Milk Supply and Comfort Determines Your Pumping Frequency

No matter what your approach to pumping milk on the job, there are some rules you should follow to ensure that your milk supply stays healthy.

After you are more than 12 weeks postpartum, your milk supply should be regulated. This means that your hormones are no longer driving milk production and it is based more on supply and demand. 

The more frequently you pump, the more milk you will produce. So if you are used to feeding your baby every three hours, you will want to keep up with that schedule while you are at work.

No matter how long you work, most moms will most likely need to pump at least once every 3 or 4 hours at work to maintain a full milk supply for your baby. 

This is especially true if you’re a working mom who’s been away from her baby all day. And if you work a 12-hour shift, you’ll need to stay near a pump station throughout the entire day.

If you have a lower milk supply, you will have to decide if you can handle pumping more frequently during the day to build up your supply.

If you have a larger milk supply, then you may be able to get away with pumping less frequently. Just keep an eye out for if your supply starts to dip and take steps to correct it if you need to.

Next, Check Out

  1. Pumping Schedules By Month
  2. Pumping Schedules for A Newborn
  3. Power Pumping To Increase Milk Supply
  4. Body Armor Drink For Breastfeeding
How Often Should I Pump At Work. Pumping Schedules for Milk Supply. Woman sitting on floor and pumping milk.

Resources

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/nursing-mothers/faq

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3020209/

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