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How Often Should I Pump And Breastfeed? A Quick Guide For New Moms 

May 24, 2024

May 24, 2024

This guide is here to be your breastfeeding support system, empowering you to understand your baby’s cues and establish a feeding routine that works for both of you.

Whether you decide to breastfeed or pump, this guide is here to be your breastfeeding support system, empowering you to understand your baby’s cues and establish a feeding routine that works for both of you.

Breastfeeding african american woman

Understanding Your Baby’s Needs

Babies have ways of telling you when they’re hungry. Here’s how to decipher their early signals and establish a feeding rhythm.

Early Hunger Cues

One of the earliest signs is rooting, where your baby turns their head and searches for the breast with their mouth. Fussiness is another indicator—your baby may become restless or cry. Additionally, sucking on their hands is a strong sign that your baby is hungry.

Establishing Breastfeeding

Frequent feeding in the early days (every 1-3 hours, or even more often) is crucial. This helps your body understand the demand for milk and kickstarts your milk production. The more your baby nurses, the more milk your body makes.

Cluster Feeding

Don’t be surprised if your newborn goes through periods of cluster feeding, where they feed frequently for short bursts. During these times, a single electric breast pump can be handy to ensure you have enough milk stored for when you need a break or are away.

Growth Spurts

As your little one grows, they might experience growth spurts, leading to a temporary increase in feeding frequency. This is just your baby’s way of catching up on their growth needs.

Responsive Feeding

Ditch the rigid schedules and feed your baby on demand. This ensures your baby gets the nourishment they need while fostering a strong emotional bond.

Frequency of Breastfeeding

Understanding how often to breastfeed can help ensure your baby is getting enough nutrition. Here are some important considerations:

General Guidelines

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. This means your baby will get all their nutrients from your breast milk.

Age-Specific Ranges

Newborns tend to breastfeed more frequently, sometimes every 1-3 hours, while older babies may go 3-4 hours between feedings. However, every baby is unique. Some may be more efficient eaters and breastfeed less often, while others might be comfort feeders and nurse more frequently.

Individualized Needs

Breastfeeding frequency can vary depending on your baby’s needs and feeding style.

Signs of a Satisfied Baby

How do you know when your baby has had enough? Look for these signs:

  • Weight Gain – Steady weight gain is a good indicator of healthy feeding.
  • Wet Diapers – At least 6-8 wet diapers per day is a good sign.
  • Fewer Spit-Ups – Less frequent spit-ups indicate a full tummy.

Even short breastfeeding sessions are beneficial, as they provide colostrum (the first milk produced) in the early days and then mature milk with essential nutrients and antibodies.

Pumping Basics

Pumping breast milk can be an essential part of your breastfeeding experience. Here are major points to keep in mind:

Purpose of Pumping

There are many reasons why moms choose to pump breast milk. Common reasons include building a stash for later feedings, returning to work, or supplementing breastfeeding if your baby needs extra nourishment.

When to Start Pumping

Getting an early start with pumping helps establish your milk supply and lets you get comfortable with the proper technique. This makes it easier if you need to start pumping regularly later on.

Pumping Techniques

Using a breast pump that fits you well is crucial for comfort and efficiency. Additionally, consider double pumping to express milk from both breasts simultaneously.

Pumping Frequency

Pumping frequency generally mimics your baby’s nursing frequency. This helps maintain a good breast milk supply. However, every new mom and baby is unique. There’s no set pumping schedule—listen to your body and your baby’s needs.

Electric breast pump and bottles for breasting milk in a wicker basket on a wooden table

Balancing Breastfeeding and Pumping

Effectively balancing breastfeeding and pumping ensures your baby gets the best of both worlds. Here’s how to achieve a harmonious routine:

Prioritizing Breastfeeding

Whenever possible, prioritize direct breastfeeding for optimal bonding and milk production.

Pumping After Breastfeeding

Pumping after breastfeeding can help express any remaining milk and ensure complete emptying of your breasts. This can also help signal your body to produce more milk.

Scheduled Pumping

For working moms or those who need to supplement breastfeeding, incorporating scheduled pumping sessions throughout the day is essential. This can help maintain your milk supply and ensure you have a stash of breast milk.

Gradual Introduction of Pumping

If you’re new to pumping, it’s best to introduce pumping sessions gradually to avoid disrupting your breastfeeding rhythm. Start with short pumping sessions a few times a day and gradually increase the duration and frequency as needed.

Maintaining Milk Supply

Here are some tips for maintaining a good milk supply while pumping:

  • Power Pumping – Strategically timed pumping sessions can stimulate milk production.
  • Staying Hydrated – Drink plenty of fluids. Aim for 8-10 glasses of water daily.
  • Healthy Diet – Eating a balanced and nutritious diet provides your body with the nutrients it needs to produce milk.

Last Thoughts

When it comes to breastfeeding, trust that you’ve got this! Understanding your baby’s hunger cues, being flexible with feedings, and tailoring pumping to your situation—that’s the recipe for success. Don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way.

With some trial and error, you’ll establish a nurturing routine that keeps your little one happy and thriving. Above all, don’t forget to soak in all those precious bonding moments. This special season goes by in a blur, so savor the snuggles!


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