Exclusively Pumping can be tough, but the right schedule can make all the difference. Learn how to create a pumping schedule that you can stick to!
Since I’m due with baby #2 soon, I’ve been going back and forth about whether I’m going to pump exclusively again, or if I’ll mix it up and attempt to breastfeed instead.
I’ve just about got my mind made up, but if you’ve read my exclusively pumping journey, then you know that I have a soft spot for exclusively pumping mamas.
Choosing to pump exclusively is no small commitment, and isn’t any easier that exclusively breastfeeding.
While, it was difficult to get the hang of in the beginning, once I found my groove, I began to actually enjoy pumping.
That said, one of the most difficult things about exclusively pumping was figuring out a schedule.
Some pumping schedules that I found were just too unrealistic for me to actually stick to.
So instead of driving myself crazy trying to stick to every schedule that I found on Pinterest, I decided to create my own – and today I want to share it with you!
Before we dive into it, understand that no two pumping schedules will look the same.
While certain principles remain consistent, we all have different lifestyles and have to do what works best for us.
Also, if you haven’t already, check out my exclusively pumping must-haves to find out everything you need to ensure that your pumping journey goes as smooth as possible!
Newborn To 3 Months
Many schedules you come across will advise you to pump 8 to 12 times a day since that’s how often a newborn baby will breastfeed.
In my experience, once my milk came in, I made a lot more than what my baby needed at the time.
While it’s true that you should pump frequently in order to ensure that you establish your milk supply, I found that pumping every two hours was a bit overkill for me.
Although I managed to have a let down each time, I found that by stretching it out and pumping every 3hrs, I was getting more milk.
So instead of filling up the bottles half way every two hours, I was filling them completely by pumping every 3 hours.
I know some mama’s that were even able to stretch this out to every 4 hours!
That said, every woman is different, however, in the first three months, I’d recommend pumping at least 8 times a day for at least 20 minutes.
That sounds like a LOT, but it does get easier!
3 Months To 6 Months
Once you hit the 3 month mark, you should have a pretty established supply.
As a result, you can start dropping sessions & hopefully getting more sleep.
While the advice varies about how many times you should pump during this period, one thing that many neglect to consider is building a freezer stash.
I knew early on that I wanted to build a freezer stash full of milk for times when my supply was low (i.e. that time of the month), and for when we were out and about.
So while it’s safe to drop as low as 5 pumping sessions a day, I continued to pump 8 times a day – sometimes pumping as little as 6 times a day if we were super busy.
Was I exhausted?
Was it worth it?
By continuing to pump frequently, I was able to build a pretty nice freezer stash.
Having a freezer stash gave me such peace of mind, and helped me not to stress about having milk ready if things didn’t go according to plan that day.
6 Months To 12 Months
The 6 month mark was when things finally started getting easier for me.
My son had officially started solids so I was able to go from 6-8 times a down to 4-5 times a day.
If you read my exclusive pumping journey, you know that I, unfortunately, had to end my pumping journey at 8 months.
At the 7 month mark, after that time of the month, my supply didn’t pick back up like it had in the past, so I had to call it quits.
No matter what I tried, my supply continued to dwindle.
Luckily, my freezer stash was pretty stocked so that was my saving grace for a while.
In retrospect, since my supply always took a huge hit when aunt flo was in town, I probably should’ve focused more on power pumping to sustain it.
12 Months & Beyond
Once you hit the 12-month mark, it’s up to you as to whether you decide to wean, or if you’d like to continue pumping liquid gold.
Many moms continue past the 12-month mark, but many opt to wean and transition to a different type of milk for their little one.
If you are considering pumping past 12 months, you shouldn’t need more than 1 pumping session a day.
Exclusively pumping is hard, and definitely takes a lot of time and dedication.
However, having the opportunity to provide your little one with your breast milk is beyond worth it!
Finding a schedule that works for you can be tricky, but remember, every mama is different.
What may have worked for one mom may not work for you.
Compare and contrast sample schedules, and continue to tweak them until you find what works best for you and your little one!