Exclusive Pumping Schedule For Newborn: How To Set Up The Right One 

 March 15, 2022

By  maipham

One of the most thing I felt most confused when I started my breastfeeding and pumping journey is a pumping schedule for newborn.

You know, when do you pump milk? How many times you have to pump a day? How long does it take to get a better milk supply? Does pumping impact your breast tissues? etc.

If you don't pump on time and don't pump until you are empty, you are left yourself with the risk of clogged milk ducts, and low milk supply. But if you pump too much, where is the time for you to rest and recover and be with your little one?

You are also a breastfeeding mom and are wondering about those questions? Don't worry, I've been there, done that. I think I can come to rescue.

Let's dive in your burning questions.

What is exclusive pumping?

Let's talk about exclusive pumping, to know what it means, and decide if it is suitable for you.

  • Is the process of delivering breast milk to a baby using a bottle, tube, or alternative feeding method.
  • It requires you to express or pump milk out of your breasts at regular intervals throughout the day.
  • Is a great idea if you can't or don't want to breastfeed but want your little one to enjoy breast milk.
exclusive pumping for newborn

Exclusive pumping vs. Pumping and breastfeeding

For most women, there usually comes a day (or night) they need to be away from their baby. Whether it’s for work, school, travel, or just out for an evening. Consider it the law of busy motherhood: your baby and breasts aren’t always at the same place at the same time. You still may nurse baby, say, in the mornings before work, and evenings and weekends when you’re home. But your baby still gets pumped breast milk for those times that you’re not around.

Some women, yet, have no choice but to pump only. Because, despite all their best efforts, they can’t nurse due to circumstances such as the baby having trouble latching. In this case, you may opt for exclusive pumping.

Pros and cons of exclusive pumping

The pros

  • Time with the entire family: Pumping allows your baby to feed without taking you away from your family.
  • Someone else can help: allows you to give charge of feeding to someone else while you rest or do other things.
  • Uninterrupted work:  You can work a demanding job and still manage to feed your baby on breast milk.
  • Protect your milk supply: If you are unable to nurse for a period, pumping helps to keep your milk levels in check.

The cons

  • Expensive: Most good pumps are a bit pricey.
  • A lot of extra cleaning: The extra tools used for pumping need regular cleaning to avoid germs.
  • Time-consuming: As opposed to breastfeeding, pumping involves more tasks. Like thawing frozen milk you stored in the freezer.
  • Lifestyle change: You have to follow a strict pumping schedule. Also, you may find it tiring to wake up every night to pump all by yourself.
exclusive pumping for newborn

Pros and cons of pumping and breastfeeding

The pros:

  • Increasing the amount of milk your breasts produce.
  • Extra expressed breast milk for periods of separation or if you become ill.
  • Encouraging your baby to accept bottle feeding and not rely solely on breastfeeding.
  • Relieving engorgement pressure and helping prevent clogged ducts

The cons

  • You need to rotate between pumping and breastfeeding, and many times, it means more frequent milking sessions. This is exhausting.
  • Your breasts/nipples may be more tender due to the longer amounts of suction.
pumping and breastfeeding for newborn

5 common situations that suggest exclusive pumping for you

You may decide that you'll pump exclusively before you have your newborn. There are many common situations to start the pumping schedule for newborn. They may:

  • If the baby was born prematurely or has a health issue. The No. 1 reason I’d suggest a new mom begin pumping breast milk. The baby is unable to breastfeed, was born premature, has a health issue, is in the NICU, or otherwise has to be separated from mom.
  • If the baby loses too much weight. The baby isn’t able to get enough milk from nursing at the breast, pumping will let mom bottle-feed baby with breast milk to drop continued weight loss.
  • If mom has to go back to work. I suggest that mom begin pumping and storing breast milk about three weeks before she returns to work. This will give her the time needed to store enough milk for her first few days back at work.
  • Find breastfeeding extremely painful, but tolerate pumping.
  • Simply do not want to breastfeed.

How to create the right exclusive pumping schedule for newborn

exclusive pumping schedule for newborn

If pumping is something you expect to do regularly, it’s understandable that you’d want to be able to create some kind of routine. This way you can structure your day and make sure you’re pumping the amount of milk you need to feed or store for your baby.

Breastfeeding parents pump their breast milk for many reasons. Your pumping schedule will actually depend on your reason for pumping.

For example:

If you’re pumping for a premature baby who can’t come to the breast, you’ll likely be pumping exclusively. This will mean pumping around the clock, including in the middle of the night.

You may want to build up your supply for a return to work, so you’ll be pumping between nursing sessions with your baby.

If you’re interested in pumping to increase your supply or to pump for an occasional date night, you may not need an exact schedule. But may want to follow some guidelines for the best times to pump.

Different needs need different schedules. And it’s important to keep your own personal pumping goals in mind as you build a schedule that works for you.

Sample exclusive pumping schedule for newborn

Pumping schedule for newborn

If you have a newborn, try to maintain this schedule of about 10-12 pumps per day for at least the first 4-6 weeks.

During the first few weeks, you will pump every 2 hours during the day and every 3-4 hours at night.

  1.  6 am
  2.  8 am
  3.  10 am
  4.  12 pm
  5.  2 pm
  6.  4 pm
  7.  6 pm
  8.  9 pm
  9.  12 am
  10.  4 am

This schedule allows you to have a 3 hour stretch of sleep from 9 pm to midnight, and a 4 hour stretch of sleep from midnight to 4 am.

When I was pumping so frequently during the day, I usually spent about 20 minutes per pumping session.

During the 4 am and 6 am pumping sessions I would typically extend the pumping sessions to 25 or 30 minutes.

This is because I was most engorged during that time and the longer sessions helped me to produce the most milk.

When pumping for a newborn, here are a few general guidelines to follow:

  • If you cannot keep up the pace of 10 pumping sessions per day, try to not drop below 8 pumping sessions.
  • Try not to go more than 4 hours between any pumping session, measured from the beginning of each session.
  • The hormones that help you to produce milk are at their peak during the middle of the night. So many moms are able to pump the most milk during pumping sessions between midnight and 5 am.

How often should you pump for a newborn?

How often should you pump for a newborn?

A newborn will take a bottle of breast milk approximately every 2 to 3 hours. So during the first few weeks, you should try to pump at least every 2 to 3 hours—about 8 to 12 times each day. It helps stimulate your body to produce a healthy milk supply.

As your baby gets older, they will take more at each feeding, but go longer between feedings. As long as your milk supply is plentiful, you may be able to go longer between pumping sessions, as well.

How long should you pump?

How long should you pump

Ideally, you should pump for at least 15-20 minutes from each breast.

In the early days, it may take 30 minutes or more and that is fine unless your breasts feel painful on touch.

While pumping, the breast milk may take a few minutes to come out. Even after the breast milk stops coming after the pumping has finished, wait for at least 5 minutes and again to empty the breast fully. Incomplete emptying of the breasts can lead to conditions such as mastitis or inflammation of the breasts.

When should you pump?

when should you pump?

If the baby is healthy and weight gain well, and no anticipated need for separation, you should wait some weeks for your body to adapt to the new changes. If you are breastfeeding and pumping, I recommend starting your pumping schedule for newborn is until your baby is 6 weeks old. Even if you are exclusively pumping, you should wait a few days. During this time, use hand expression to remove any excess milk.

Note, you shouldn't pump during pregnancy, it stimulates your body to produce hormones that can put you into labor.

Also, although the best time of day to pump is the time that works for you, first thing in the morning is when you'll express the most milk. And for moms with low milk supply, don't forget to apply my massage method during pumping to get faster and more let down.

How to store breast milk?

How to store breast milk?

Storing breast milk after pumping

After each pumping, you can:

Keep milk at room temperature 

Breastmilk is OK for up to 4 hours after pumping at room temperature (up to 77°F). Refrigerate it. Breastmilk is OK in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Place milk in the freezer

If you're not going to use refrigerated breastmilk within 4 days of pumping, freeze it right after pumping.

Use cooler packs

You can put breastmilk in a cooler or insulated cooler pack with frozen ice packs for up to 24 hours after pumping. After 24 hours in a cooler, the breastmilk should be refrigerated or frozen.

When storing breastmilk, use breastmilk storage bags to freeze human milk. You can also use clean glass or hard BPA-free plastic bottles with tight-fitting lids. Do not use disposable bottle liners or other plastic bags to store breastmilk.

Storage tips

  • Clearly label the breast milk with the date it was expressed.
  • Do not store breast milk in the door of the refrigerator or freezer. This will help protect the breast milk from temperature changes from the door opening and closing.
  • If you don’t think you will use freshly expressed breast milk within 4 days, freeze it right away. This will help to protect the quality of breast milk.
  • When freezing breast milk:
    • Store small amounts to avoid wasting milk that might not be finished. Store in 2 to 4 ounces or the amount offered at one feeding.
    • Leave about one inch of space at the top of the container because breast milk expands as it freezes.
  • If you deliver breast milk to a child care provider, clearly label the container with the child’s name. Talk to your child care provider about any other requirements for labeling and storing breast milk.
  • Breast milk can be stored in an insulated cooler with frozen ice packs for up to 24 hours when you are traveling. At your destination, use the milk right away, store it in the refrigerator, or freeze it.

How to clean your breast pump?

How to clean your breast pump?

If you’re anything like us, the thought of using a dirty pump makes you cringe. So be sure to read your pump’s manual for any specific cleaning instructions. While it isn’t always necessary to sterilize your pump, you should clean it after each use with warm, soapy water.

  • Begin by taking your pump apart. You should inspect the flanges, valves, membranes, connectors, and collection bottles for any damage. And can replace if necessary.
  • Rinse all pump parts that make contact with your breast milk. Simply run them under water to remove the milk.
  • To clean by hand, place your pump in some type of basin. Fill the basin with hot water and soap and then scrub everything with a clean brush. Rinse with fresh water and let everything air dry atop a clean dish towel or paper towel.
  • To clean in your dishwasher, place pump parts on the top rack of your machine in a mesh laundry bag or closed-top basket. Consider using your dishwasher’s hot or sanitize setting for the most germ-killing power. Then when the cycle is done, remove your pump and let it air dry atop a clean dish towel or paper towel.
  • You don’t need to clean the tubing of your pump unless it comes in contact with breast milk. You may see condensation in the tubing from time to time. To get rid of it, turn your pump on for a couple minutes until it’s dry.

Additionally, you may consider boiling pump parts to sanitize. You only need to do this once a day. Place pump parts in a pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and let the parts boil for 5 minutes. Then remove pump parts with clean tongs.


After how many pumps should you stop?

Aim to pump at least 8 times per day for an effective pumping schedule for newborn. Pump every 2 hours during the day and every 4 hours at night to maintain breast milk supply.

After the first week of delivery, you can pump about 50 - 80 ml every 2-3 hours, need to double this amount if you have twins and triple if you have triplets,... about a month, you will need about 80 to 110 ml every 3 - 4 hours, or about 700 to 900 ml per day. It may take some time to reach this goal but take it easy.

However, remember, every mom is different. When you feel that your breasts are soft and light after the pumping session, you can stop and rest.

How long should each pump last?

In the beginning, when you are producing small amounts at each pump session, the session lasts for 10-15 minutes. Continue the pumping after you have let down. The last droplets of milk contain the highest levels of fat, which provide the greatest calories.

Also, by emptying the breast more completely, the body will receive an important message to make more milk for the next pump session. If the breasts do not get emptied completely or often enough, the body begins to produce less milk.

In fact, the milk never stops flowing while they pump. Typically, you should not pump longer than 30 minutes, even if the milk is still flowing. Remember to check if you feel your breasts are light and soft, then you can stop pumping.

Which breast pump is the best today?

I have to say, the best machine is the one that works best for you. It depends on your needs, finances, and breast characteristics as well.

I've written some guides to select the right breast pump. Make sure you check them out.

How to use Haakaa - a manual breast pump.

Can I use a manual breast pump every day?

Electric breast pump vs manual breast pump: which one is better?

Final thought

It's hard to know an effective pumping plan if you don't have the right information, right? Right now, you don't need to worry about that anymore. With my experience in raising babies up to now, I have helped you map out specific and detailed directions.

Based on this, you can pump milk for your baby on the right pumping schedule for newborn without fear of lack of milk or not good.


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