When my baby was born, I struggled to figure out how to increase my breast milk supply. My daughter was unable to latch and nurse, so the only tool I could use to increase my supply was my pump. In the beginning, I was pumping every three hours, but I still wasn’t producing enough milk.
So, should you pump every hour? Yes, pumping every hour is a good method to increase breast milk supply. It increases the demand for milk, mimicking a cluster feeding baby. The increased demand for milk will eventually increase the supply of milk your body produces.
I met with a lactation consultant, and she suggested to pump more frequently to increase my milk supply. I decided to add in extra pumping sessions whenever I could manage to fit them into my day.
I started pumping every hour from 5 am to 9 am, and it worked to increase my milk supply.
These extra pump sessions worked so well that I went from pumping 3 ounces of milk during my morning pump session to pumping up to 8 ounces in the morning pump session.
If you are exclusively pumping, then pumping every hour is a good option to try to increase your milk supply.
If you are pumping frequently, using this pumping bra (link to Amazon), will definitely help you to multi-task and get more done.
How quickly will I see results from pumping every hour?
Typically, you will not see immediate results from pumping every hour. It would be unusual to see an increase in milk supply on the first day. You may not even see an increase after the first two days.
It may take three days, and possibly even up to a week of diligently pumping every hour before you will see an increase in your breast milk supply. I had to pump for five days before I started to see an increase in the amount of milk I would pump each session.
When I was trying to give my milk supply a little extra boost, I would use this product that I found on Etsy. I was impressed by how many moms raved about it. When I used it along with pumping more frequently I noticed an increase in my milk supply.
Another thing that really helped my milk supply was drinking a daily protein shake. This protein shake is specifically formulated to boost milk supply and the chocolate fudge flavor is delicious!
How much milk will I get when I pump every hour?
The amount of milk you produce when you pump every hour will depend on your breast storage capacity, and it varies from woman to woman.
Some women have a smaller breast storage capacity and may only be able to pump three ounces of milk per session. Other women have a larger breast storage capacity and will be able to pump twenty ounces of milk per session.
Another factor which influences how much milk you produce is your refill rate. Your refill rate is how quickly your breasts will fill back up once they are emptied.
You will likely be able to pump the most ounces during your first pump session. During the second pump session an hour later, I would pump less milk.
During the third session an hour later, I would not be able to produce more than an ounce. Even though I was not pumping a lot of milk during these more frequent sessions, it was important to stick with it for a few days. Eventually, I started to see more ounces after putting in the work.
Combining pumping more frequently with heat and massage can also help to increase milk supply.
If you are trying to increase milk supply, I found that this useful tool (link to Amazon) can also help increase milk supply through massage.
If you are interested in this massager, you also might want to see the upgraded version with heat and massage by checking out their site here. You can use promo code LISA10 to get 10% off your order! I have these heated massage pads and they help me to produce more milk faster.
How many minutes should I pump when I’m pumping every hour?
For the first pump, pump until you feel empty. This will may take anywhere from 25-45 minutes. For the next pump an hour later, you most likely will not need to pump as long to empty.
You may spend anywhere from 15-25 minutes pumping on the second and third pumps.
Why does pumping every hour work to increase breast milk supply?
Pumping every hour increases milk supply by signaling to your body that your baby is going through a growth spurt. During growth spurts, your infant will need extra calories in order to satisfy his or her hunger.
Because more milk is demanded, either through nursing more frequently or by pumping more frequently, then your body will begin to catch up and produce more milk to meet that demand for more milk.
What is the best time of day to pump every hour?
I found the most success when I pumped every hour during the early morning, from 5 am until 9 am. My body naturally produced the most milk during the morning, and it was much more encouraging to see the bottles fill up in the morning.
When I added pumps during the evening sessions, it took my body longer to increase my milk supply. However, adding pumping sessions during the evening is better than not adding the sessions at all.
If the only time of day you have to add sessions is during the evening, go ahead and try it. Just remember that it might take you a little longer to increase your supply.
Do I need to pump every hour for the entire day?
It isn’t necessary to pump every hour for the entire day. You do have a newborn to take care of, so it isn’t realistic to be hooked up to the pump for the entire day.
Choose a time of day that works for you and your family, add some pump sessions in, and you will see results. You might start off with pumping at 5 am, 6 am, 7 am, 8 am, and then resume your normal schedule of pumping every three hours at 11 am, 2 pm, and so on.
Do I need to pump every hour during the night?
Pumping every hour during the night would most likely be counterproductive. Your body needs rest and sleep in order to produce milk, and pumping every hour during the night means that you will not get restful sleep.
During the first few months, the lactation consultant recommended that I pump at least every 4 hours during the night. She also suggested that I should pump at least once between 12 am and 4 am.
This 12 am to 4 am time frame is when the hormone prolactin is the highest, and this middle of the night pump would help me to produce more milk.
Will pumping every hour increase breast milk supply for everyone?
The majority of women will be able to increase their breast milk supply by pumping every hour. When the breast is empty of milk, it sends a signal that it is time to produce more milk.
The more frequently you pump, the faster your breast will empty. Eventually, your body will receive the signal that it needs to produce more milk.
However, a small percentage of women have a condition called IGT, or Insufficient Glandular Tissue, and they may not be able to produce more milk by pumping every hour.
If I can’t pump every hour, should I pump every 2 hours? Should I pump every 3 hours?
Pumping every two hours throughout the day should also help to increase your milk supply. It is recommended to pump at least every three hours during the day.
If you are exclusively pumping, you should pump as frequently as your newborn feeds throughout the day in order to establish a full milk supply.
Feeding and taking care of a baby, washing pump parts and bottles, and pumping are a lot of responsibilities to take on.
It is understandable that it might be difficult to pump every hour. If it isn’t feasible to pump every hour, pumping every two hours is also a good option.
During the first few months, the lactation consultant suggested that I pump at least every three hours during the day. Here are all the details I used to create an exclusive pumping schedule (link to article).
The first few months are important for increasing your milk supply because after that time, your milk supply begins to regulate and it becomes more difficult to increase supply.
The best strategy is to pump between 8 and 12 times per day during the first 12 weeks postpartum.
If your milk supply has regulated, here are more details on stretching pumping sessions to every 4 hours.
If I am past 12 weeks postpartum, will pumping every hour help to increase my milk supply?
Yes, there is hope if you are past 3 months postpartum. Pumping every hour can help increase your milk supply even if you gave birth more than 12 weeks ago.
You may need to spend more days pumping before you will see an increase in supply. I was able to increase my milk supply by pumping more frequently at 5 months postpartum
If you are new to pumping, you should check out my post on pumping tips for beginners. I spill all my best tips for pumping milk in this post.
What is the average ounces of milk produced per pumping session?
On average, most women pump between 3 ounces to 6 ounces per pumping session when pumping both breasts. This will depend on each woman’s body, and on the amount of time between nursing or pumping sessions.
How much milk should I be producing when exclusively pumping?
Most women produce 1 to 1.5 ounces per hour, or 24 to 30 ounces per day when they are exclusively pumping. This aligns with the amount of milk a baby will typically drink in a 24 hour period. If pumping more than this amount, extra milk may need to be stored in the freezer for future use.
Tools For Increasing Milk Supply
Here are a few tools that I found useful for increasing my milk supply:
- Massager – to help increase milk flow
- Warming pads – these ones were super soft and can encourage letdowns
- Milk Booster – has rave reviews on Etsy
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 code LISA20 to save 20% off your purchase!
- Try the Chocolate Fudge flavor of this yummy milk-boosting protein powder.
- Click here for the best deal on the WillowGo pump! Use code willowgo-PM (pumping mamas) to save for a limited time!
- 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. Use code LISA15 to save 15% for a limited time.
- 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.
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NEXT, Check out these articles:
- Power Pumping – To Increase Milk Supply FAST (& 3 Secret Tips)
- 18 Ways To Increase Milk Supply Naturally (Without Supplements)
- Replacing Pump Parts: The Secret To Pumping Maximum Milk