When and How Long for Milk Supply Success? (2024 Updated)

Breast Pumping: When and How Long for Milk Supply Success

Quick Answer: In the first 2 hours after birth, hand-express your breast and then begin pumping every 2–3 hours. Use a hospital-grade pump or an electric pump, if possible. To successfully establish and maintain breast milk supply, start pumping 2-4 weeks postpartum, adding 2-3 sessions per day, each lasting 10-15 minutes per breast. Focus on consistent pumping times, especially in the morning, middle of the night, and after daytime feedings. Use a double electric pump for efficiency and ensure proper fit and comfort. Regular pumping, proper hydration, and a balanced diet are crucial for optimal milk production.


As a brand new breastfeeding mama, I vividly remember the confusion and uncertainty around breast pumping. My days and nights blurred into a hazy routine of nursing, burping, changing diapers, and desperately trying to grab some shut eye when I could. But I knew I needed to start pumping so others could help with feeds. I just had no idea when or for how long.

Pumping felt like a chore stacked on an already full plate. I put it off, telling myself I’d start when things felt more manageable. But the days marched on and pumping remained a looming task, nagging at the back of my exhausted mind.

If this experience sounds familiar, you’re in the right place! Pumping may feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider this your no-judgment, no-pressure beginner’s guide to integrating pumping into your busy new mom schedule. I’ll walk through the when and how long of pumping to help you establish and maintain your breast milk supply.

Breast Pumping: When and How Long for Milk Supply Success

When Should A Mother Add Pumping Sessions?

As a general guideline, you’ll want to begin directly pumping your breasts after nursing or in between feeding baby around 2-4 weeks postpartum. Most lactation consultants recommend adding about 2-3 pumping sessions per day, even starting with just 10 minutes per breast.

Consistency matters more than duration when first building pumping into your routine. Aim to pump at the same times each day, whether it’s after the first morning feeding, during the late evening, or at night. Think of it like going to the gym - showing up regularly sends signals to your body to react and change. Frequent pumping triggers your breasts to produce more milk over time.

Critical Times to Prioritize Pumping:

  • First Thing in the Morning- Hormones are peaked after getting good rest, so milk production will be highest. Try pumping right after or in between nursing upon waking.
  • Middle of the Night- Pumping for 10-15 minutes per breast between midnight and 5 AM mimics baby feeding heavily off both sides overnight. This nightly removal of milk tells your body to replace it.
  • After Daytime Feedings- Sneak in a quick pumping session after nursing your baby, while their full and content after eating. This ensures you fully empty both breasts.

It's very important to pump at critical times, to learn more helpful instruction, could read When is the Best Time to Pump Breast Milk?

I found the morning sessions to be most productive for stockpiling milk once my supply regulated around 6 weeks. But those late night pumps were essential in the early weeks when my baby seemed to use my breasts as pacifiers to soothe herself!

As far as how long between nursing sessions, a good benchmark is to pump about every 2-3 hours if you’re exclusively pumping. But pay close attention to how your breasts feel if also nursing. Becoming overly full and firm indicates you should pump for relief and to avoid issues like clogged ducts or mastitis. Signs it's time include leaking milk, breast discomfort, visible engorgement, or feeling “overdue” to empty.

How Long Should I Pump Per Session?

Aim to pump each breast for around 10-15 minutes. This mimics the length of time your baby would feed for in the first few months. Go by how empty and soft your breasts feel rather than watching the clock. Using a double electric pump can shorten session length since both sides empty simultaneously.

It’s normal for pumping output to decrease towards the end. But you’ll want to pump past that last drop of milk and then continue for another 5 minutes. This ensures your breasts empty fully, signaling your body to replace that drained milk. If your nipples still look rounded versus compressed after pumping, your flanges may be too large or pumping duration wasn’t long enough.

Other factors that influence needed pumping duration:

  • Stage of milk supply establishment
  • Goal amount of milk output
  • Breast fullness and storage capacity

I’ve pumped anywhere from 10 minutes up to 30 minutes per session depending on the above reasons over 9 months of breastfeeding. In the early days, I’d easily empty within 15 minutes. But as my supply regulated around 2 months, sessions extended to fully drain and collect hindmilk.

Breast Pumping: When and How Long for Milk Supply Success

Tips For Pumping Success

Here are a few quick tips to make your pumping sessions as efficient and comfortable as possible:

Choose a Double Electric Pump for Efficiency

    The Momcozy S12 is a hospital-grade double electric pump that cuts session time in half since both breasts empty simultaneously. This means more precious minutes back with my baby rather than tied down pumping.

    Massage Breasts While Pumping

      Use your hands to gently compress your breasts in a circular pattern while pumping. This massage motion helps stimulate let-down so milk ejects and flows easier. Try different pressures and techniques to see what works best. Just avoid any aggressive massaging that causes pain.

      Look at Photos/Videos of Your Baby

        One of the best ways to trigger your let-down reflex is to look at pictures or videos of your cute little one! Keep some loaded on your phone or have printed copies on hand while pumping. Flip through and reminisce about those newborn snuggles to get your milk flowing.Double Pump to Save Time

        Invest in a high-quality double electric pump so you can empty both breasts simultaneously. This cuts your pumping session times in half since you don't have to pump one side after the other. I loved having the hands-free convenience to tackle tasks while pumping too.

        Distract Yourself

          Do what you need to help pass the pumping time - watch TV shows, listen to podcasts or audiobooks, scroll social media, etc. I found having distractions made sessions go by faster so I could get back to my baby more quickly.

          Ensure Proper Flange Fit

            Flanges that don't fit your nipples well won't empty your breasts properly or comfortably. Measure your nipple diameter and purchase the correct size flanges. Around 90% of women will benefit from a 24-28mm size versus the standard 25mm.There is a helpful article to help you choose right pump: Finding the best breast pump for mom

            Apply Warm Compresses

              If your breasts become extremely engorged or firm, the warmth helps loosen tissues and improve milk flow before pumping. Soak a towel in warm water, wring out excess, and apply to breasts for a few minutes. This pre-massage routine makes pumping more pleasant.

              Stay Hydrated and Eat Oats

                Drink plenty of water and aim for at least 3-5 servings of whole grains like oatmeal daily. Oats are lactogenic so they signal your body to produce milk. Hydration prevents your supply from being impacted by dehydration.

                For more helpful pumping tips: Breastfeeding Tips for Busy Working Moms

                Breast Pumping: When and How Long for Milk Supply Success

                The Key to Milk Supply? Consistency!

                I know the ins and outs of pumping can feel overwhelming amidst the crazy newborn period. But try to stick with adding those 2-3 sessions daily, even quick 10 minute pumps, during the first couple months. This consistency in removing milk tells your breasts to keep producing more.

                Once you get into a manageable pumping groove, you can tweak session length and timing as needed. The most important thing is showing up regularly to build and then maintain your supply. Be proud of yourself for making milk for your baby - it’s no small feat!

                And remember support is abundantly available for your breastfeeding journey, whether from lactation consultants, online communities, or friends and family.

                Frequently Asked Questions

                1. How to Use Momcozy's Wearable Electric Breast Pump?

                Based on our customers' frequently asked question, we have summarized below instruction for all mothers' reference:

                Basically, the general instruction include seven steps:

                1. Assemble the pump correctly according to the manufacturer's instructions. This usually includes connecting the flanges/breast shields, valves, tubing, bottles/bags, and wearable pump itself.
                2. Clean all parts that will come into contact with breast milk thoroughly before first use. Wash with hot soapy water and sterilize if possible.
                3. Place the wearable pump bra on with the two breast flanges centered over your nipples. Make sure there is a tight seal, but not too tight as to cause discomfort.
                4. Turn the pump on. Most wearable pumps have a power button directly on the bra. Refer to your pump's directions regarding modes and settings. Start on a lower, gentler vacuum setting.
                5. Let the pump run for several minutes until your milk starts flowing into the attached bottles or milk collection bags. Adjust the cycle intensity and suction modes to preference.
                6. When finished, turn the pump off and disconnect the tubing/bottles carefully to avoid spills. Transfer milk to storage bags and refrigerate or freeze.
                7. Take apart the pump components and clean thoroughly after each use following manufacturer guidelines. Sterilize all parts between uses for proper hygiene.

                Read more about pump breast:

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