What Breastfeeding Schedule Should You Follow? How Many Times a Day Do You Need to Pump Milk and When?

Following a proper breastfeeding schedule is beneficial for your baby’s healthy development and growth. 

In the first couple of weeks after birth, your baby will eat more often as breast milk is digested faster compared to infant formula. As a rule of thumb, you should nurse her 8-9 times a day.  

Take into account that with young babies, the time gap between breastfeeding sessions is flexible and tends to change quite often.  Therefore, you should be attentive to your baby’s signs of hunger rather than the clock. 

As the baby grows up, breastfeeding schedule becomes more fixed. Some of the babies eat at intervals of 3 hours while others will eat more often every 1.5 – 2 hours. At night, you can wait a little longer between feeding times. 

What you need to know about pumping schedule 

Pumping schedule is important for preserving your milk supply. Here are some basic guidelines you should follow: 

How many times a day do you need to pump? 

The amount of daily pumping is based on your baby’s feeding needs and so it should go hand in hand with your breastfeeding schedule: 8 times a day and no less than 7 during the first months after birth (see table below). 

How long should you pump each time? 

To make sure your milk supply is not depleted and to prevent your milk duct from clogging, you have to pump both of your breasts until you empty them completely. When you get only a few drops or no milk at all and when your breast is soft and feels much less full, you can stop.  

For some women, it takes 10 minutes to empty their breasts; other women require more time. Broadly speaking, your pumping schedule should ideally consists of 10 – 15 minutes 8-9 times a day (all in all, 1.5 – 2.25 hours). Don’t do more than that; you do not want to exhaust yourself or injure your nipples. 

The baby’s age affects your pumping routine 

As your baby grows older, your pumping schedule and time change accordingly. This is because she becomes less and less dependent on your breast milk for feeding and more on solid food. Your milk supply also decreases. Refer to the following table for general guidelines: 

Baby’s age Number of pumping per day Pumping time  
0-3 months 8-9 15 minutes 
3-4 months 7-8 15 – 20 minutes 
5-6 months 6 20 minutes 
7-8 months 5 20-25 minutes 
9 months 4 20-30 minutes 
10 months 3 30-40 minutes 9 (with a break in the middle) 
11 months 2 30-45 minutes (with a break in the middle) 
12 months 1 40-50 minutes (with one or two breaks in the middle) 

 

A final word 

The pumping or breastfeeding schedule presented in this article is only a recommendation. Each woman’s body behaves differently. If you can’t follow this schedule exactly, there is no need for alarm. Remember, the most important thing is that your baby gets what she needs and both of you experience the fun of breastfeeding.