When Should I Pump?

Is there a “right” time to pump each day?

There are no special rules about when to pump. While it’s likely you’re producing the most milk early in the morning, you should really schedule your pumping sessions based on when you feed your baby. Some women feel they have more milk in the morning, while other moms feel they have a fuller supply in the afternoon or night. Everyone’s milk supply is different and you can get your best results based on your own routine.

When you decide to start pumping on a regular basis, it is best if you have your pump set up and clean all of the time.

Each pumping session will yield a different quality of milk, so be sure to combine the milk produced from various sessions throughout the day.

  • You will want to collect low-fat milk and high fat milk so that the bottles you leave for the baby offer complete nutrition.
  • To do this you should choose some feedings to use the pump before you start the nursing session, and other times to pump after you feed the baby.
  • Each of these pumping sessions should last about 5-10 minutes each.


If you have long breaks in the daytime when your baby sleeps, pump then.

  • For example, if your baby sleeps from 2pm – 6pm, then you could take that opportunity to sit and pump for 15 minutes at 4pm.
  • If your baby takes a long sleep break from 9 am until 1pm, you may choose to pump at 11:30am for 15 minutes.
  • Consider these long sleep breaks as opportunities for you to use the double pump for 12 – 15 minutes. You may find that you have a higher yield at these pump sessions, and that can be very encouraging for a mother who has milk supply concerns.


Another good time to use the breast pump is during feedings when your baby only nurses on one breast.

  • Although this does not always happen for every nursing, many moms report that the baby will only take from one side at a particular feeding.
  • Place the pump device into the single sided position (if applicable) and only pump the side that the baby did not nurse on. Remember you are always going to pump and pool the milk, so you are always getting the best nutritional composition of milk for the baby.


Looking for additional help with pumping your breast milk? Tell us about the challenges you’re facing and one of our lactation consultants can provide personalized suggestions for you.

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