Last Updated on March 6, 2023 by Jada Glover
If you’re a mom who is exclusively pumping and struggling with your milk supply, these exclusive pumping schedules to increase milk supply are just what you need. Besides the right schedule, it’s important that each time you pump you empty your breasts with the right pumping equipment and encourage your body to keep making milk.
In addition to the pumping schedules, we will also review proven pumping tips to help boost your milk supply. Draining your breasts fully is a natural way of increasing your milk production.
The more milk you extract, the more your body will know to produce. Exclusive pumping and maintaining or increasing your milk supply can have its challenges, which is I’ve put together this post. So, let’s get started.
Please note that this article contains affiliate links, and that means that I may earn a commission if you buy something (at no additional cost to you). Read my full disclosure here. I only recommend products I use and love and recommend to my clients.
How Does Your Pumping Schedule Impact Milk Supply?
The more often you’re able to remove milk from your breasts by pumping, the more breast milk your body will produce. Our bodies make milk based on supply and demand.
The more we pump, the more our supply will increase. It is important to keep this in mind when you are building and implementing your exclusive pumping schedule to increase your milk supply.
You should be pumping as often as your baby drinks a bottle – in both amount and pumping frequency.
If you are pumping for twins, my friend Jeanne, a mom of twins, put together a great article on exclusively pumping for twins, including tips to succeed and a sample schedule you can follow. You can read more here – Exclusively Pumping For Twins + Sample Schedule.
How Long Does It Take To Increase Milk Supply When Exclusively Pumping?
If you are starting with zero or minimal supply, it may take a few weeks for your body to respond to exclusively pumping. If you’re able to latch your baby at all during this time, that is also ideal because the increase in hormones will send signals to your body to make more milk.
You should start to see a gradual increase in milk supply when exclusively pumping. The more often you pump, power pump, and remove milk in general, the more your body should produce.
How Often Should I Pump To Increase My Milk Supply?
If you already have a basic pumping schedule of every 2-3 hours (or 8-12 times in a 24 hour period – like your baby drinks from a bottle), you can add in an early morning (sometime between 2-5 a.m. is ideal) pumping session when your prolactin levels are the highest.
You can also add in a power pumping session which will imitate your baby being at the breast and signal more milk production. The more you pump, the more your body will know to produce.
Milk removal is critical in this process, so be sure your output is optimal by checking for flange fitting and replacing pump parts every 2-3 months or as recommended by your pump manufacturer.
Pumping 2-4 ounces per side every 2-3 hours is ideal. You may skip some during the night if your baby is sleeping through the night, or in longer stretches. But, if your baby is taking a bottle at any point during the night, you should be pumping also.
When Will I Produce The Most Milk & The Least Amount Of Milk?
Your breast milk changes constantly due to many factors, including your baby’s age and health status. Due to hormone levels fluctuating throughout the day and night, you will produce the most milk early in the morning.
This is when your prolactin levels are the highest. Including a pumping session between 2-5 a.m. is a great idea if you’re trying to get the most milk out and send the signal to your body to make more milk. The good news is you should be able to go back to sleep after pumping due to the release of oxytocin.
Although your breasts are never “empty” when breastfeeding or pumping, you may experience the least amount of milk in the early evening. Milk content decreases in volume as the day goes on, but the fat content typically increases.
This is when your baby may seem hungrier too, he might be “cluster feeding” and therefore, getting more fat content at this time.
Sample Exclusive Pumping Schedules To Increase Milk Supply
Let’s review various sample exclusive pumping schedules and we will start with the perfect exclusive pumping schedule to increase milk supply.
Exclusive Pumping Schedule To Increase Milk Supply & Building a Freezer Stash
You don’t have to build a freezer stash, but a few days’ worth of milk saves you the stress in
case your supply dips temporarily as you return to work due to stress or your baby goes through a growth spurt.
Use this schedule to increase your milk supply when exclusively pumping.
- 7 a.m.
- 8 a.m.
- 10 a.m.
- 11 a.m.
- 1 p.m.
- 4 p.m.
- 7 p.m.
- 10 p.m.
- 2 a.m.
- 5 a.m.
- Struggling with your milk supply? I made this guide for increasing milk supply to help!
Exclusive Pumping Schedule For Newborns
When you have a newborn, you’ll need to pump about 8 to 12 times in 24 hours including in
the middle of the night. You should aim for about 15 to 20 minutes for each pumping
- 7 a.m.
- 9 a.m.
- 11 a.m.
- 1 p.m.
- 3 p.m.
- 5 p.m.
- 7 p.m.
- 10 p.m.
- 12 a.m.
- 3 a.m.
- 5 a.m.
Exclusive Pumping Schedule For Older Babies (6 Months+)
As your baby transitions into solid foods after showing signs of readiness, his number one source of nutrition will still be breast milk, but your baby will likely consume less milk over time. This means you can pump less milk as your baby completely transitions to solid foods.
A good rule of thumb is, if your baby is drinking a bottle with breast milk, you should be pumping to replenish the milk their drinking. Now, let’s review other sample schedules for pumping.
Use the following schedules as a guide based on you and your baby’s unique needs and circumstances.
Working Mom Exclusive Pumping Schedule
If you are working an 8-5 job and your commute is no more than a 30-minutes, a schedule
may look like the following:
- 7:00 am – Pump before leaving for work
- 9:00 am – Pump at work
- 12:00 pm – Pump at lunch
- 3:00 pm – Pump at work
- 5:30 pm – Pump at home
- 8:00 pm – Pump at home
- 11:00 pm – Power pump before bed
- 2:00 am – Pump at home
- 5:00 am – Pump at home
If your commute is longer than thirty minutes, you may consider pumping in the car going
to/from work also. Essentially you want to pump for every time your baby eats.
And paced feeding is important to ensure the baby isn’t being overfed while you’re away. You want to leave about 1-1.5 ounces of milk for every hour you’re away.
If you’re working an 8-hour day, that will be about 8-12 ounces of milk. If your baby is between 1-6 months, they will usually drink about 3-4 ounces per feeding session (about 25-30 ounces in a 24 hour period), maybe a little more or a little less depending on the baby.
Keep in mind all babies are different, and may not be interested in solid foods right at 6 months. My son didn’t really start eating solids until he was 10-12 months although we offered him solids often (purees and tried baby-led weaning).
If this is your baby, continue using a pumping schedule with more pumping times.
How Long Should A Pumping Session Be?
A pumping session should be between 15-20 minutes. You should experience two letdowns during this time.
You may or may not feel your milk letting down, but you will see an increase in output during this time if you are watching your milk flow through the flanges. After your second letdown lightens up, you can stop pumping when you are comfortable, but make sure you pump for at least for 15 minutes.
Tips To Increase Milk Supply When Pumping
Milk supply can be increased through easy techniques. Some of these are hands-on while you’re pumping, and some are simple supplements you can add to your routine. Every mom reacts differently to these techniques, so keep an eye on your output to see if you notice any difference when you implement these.
Massage Your Breasts To Increase Milk Supply
Massaging breasts while or before pumping is a great way of stimulating the breast cells to make more milk and empty the milk ducts well. It will also stimulate the let-down reflex and your breasts will start releasing more milk naturally.
Massaging breasts has many other health benefits. For instance, it can keep the breast issues like mastitis away and activate the breast cells to help them perform their function well. You can massage your breasts gently with warm hands or use a breast massager.
If you plan to do it with your hands, use your fingertips to put medium pressure and move them in the circular motion in all areas. You can also try this handy lactation massage roller that massages your breasts and moves the milk down your ducts.
It is very popular and works well!
Apply Heat To The Breast Skin
Applying heat can activate the let-down reflex and encourage the breasts to bring the milk down. You can heat a soft towel and put it on your breasts to give them the right amount of heat. Moisten the towel to enhance the effect of heat.
You can also use these soothing nursing pillows that apply heat or cold to your breasts. These can be very helpful early on, especially if you’re experiencing any engorgement.
Pump Many Times A Day
The more you pump your breasts, the more signals your body will get to produce milk. When your breasts are full, the body stops making milk because it thinks there is less of a need.
So, keep emptying your breasts by pumping to produce more milk. It is recommended to pump at least 8 to 12 times a day.
But you can increase the number of sessions if you want to increase the supply. Cluster pumping (or power pumping) is a healthy way of boosting milk production.
You can pump your breasts every 5 minutes to give signals to the body for over an hour or so. The frequency of pumping is more important than the length of time you pump.
If you spend most of your time outside the home (to work or study, etc.) then you can practice cluster pumping at night or on the weekends.
To make your cluster pumping sessions more effective try to sit in a peaceful area and look at a picture of your baby. It will act as a stimulus and trigger the hormones to make more milk for the baby.
Also, keep a water bottle or any healthy liquid nearby. Pumping can make you feel thirsty.
Try A Double Pump To Increase Milk Supply
Pump both of your breasts to boost milk production. It is more effective than single pumping.
Both breasts send a signal to the body simultaneously. As a result, your body starts making more milk to meet the demand.
You can use a hands-free pumping bra to hold the breast shields so you can relax or do other things while you pump to boost milk supply. After working with hundreds of moms, the best pump in my experience is the Spectra S2.
You can learn more about it here and read reviews. Check with your insurance if they cover it.
Skin-To-Skin Contact With Your Baby
Studies show that skin-to-skin contact with the baby significantly improves milk production. This contact acts as a stimulus and signals the body to start making milk.
So, try to keep your baby near you, or hold him if possible while you are pumping. This method also works well to calm down your baby if he is upset or showing late signs of hunger. Put your baby skin-to-skin on your chest and this allows him to calm down.
Use Convenient Pumping Equipment
The quality of the pumping device you are using will affect your milk supply. Try to invest in a hospital-grade pump or an electric pump if you are planning to pump more often.
Low-quality pumps or the ones that are operated by batteries are good only if you are going to use them a few times. Similarly, the size of the breast shield and the suction speed of the pump will also have an impact on your milk output.
The breast shields should be held properly and the suction should be enough to suck all the milk out. Clean the parts of the equipment that comes in direct contact with your breast to keep your breasts protected.
Read the breast pump manual thoroughly to understand how to use it properly – there are settings that are important to mimic the sucking of a baby. If you still do not get how to use it, go to the manufacturer’s site.
Keep in mind that a pump unfortunately will never yield the same results as your baby suckling on your breasts to get milk out. Babies are just much more efficient.
Set Up a Peaceful Area To Increase Milk Supply When Pumping
While it’s important to focus on pumping while you are actively pumping, don’t focus so much that you get stressed about it. Cover the bottles up with socks so you don’t look at the supply, sometimes that can cause us more stress at the moment.
Find your favorite book or magazine and read while pumping to take your mind off it. You can also try looking at pictures of your baby or watching videos of your baby to help release oxytocin.
Eat a Healthy & Nutritious Diet
The quality of your diet can impact your milk supply. Eat foods that are full of healthy vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Do not forget to increase your calorie intake (eat 400 to 500 extra calories every day depending on how often you’re breastfeeding and how much you weigh).
Your body needs calories to make milk and provide healthy fats to your baby through milk. Drinking plenty of water is also important to avoid issues like dehydration.
Water is the most abundant component present in the milk. So, drink more glasses of water. Have a cup of water every time you sit to pump your breasts.
Try Supplements & Lactation Foods
Lactations foods and supplements have special ingredients that support breast milk production. You can try famous lactation supporting herbs like fenugreek, fennel, blessed thistle, etc.
These herbs can be used to make herbal teas that also provide a tired mind with calmness and peace. Eat lactation cookies, lactation smoothies, and similar foods. Their ingredients usually increase prolactin production which is a hormone that starts milk production.
My top 5 picks for supplements include:
Each of these supplements has their own unique benefits, and help make your body healthier while increasing milk supply. You can learn more about their advantages inside my most popular e-book bundle The Ultimate Guide to Increase Milk Supply Fast.
Understanding the correct exclusive pumping schedule to increase milk supply is a vital step to successfully producing more milk.
Exclusively pumping for your baby can seem overwhelming, but with these tips, you will increase your supply and have the best output to keep up with your baby. Try hands on techniques like breast massage while pumping, and pumping when your milk hormones are their highest (early in the morning).
Grab my free guide to help increase your milk supply fast!
If you’re new here, you may also like these related posts:
How To Increase Milk Supply Overnight & Fast
What To Do If Your Milk Supply Is Low
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