How Often Should You Pump?

Updated on April 18, 2011
N.M. asks from Bell, CA
14 answers

I'm pumping every 3 hours. Is this too much or too little. It seems my supply is going down a little.


I pump at work and nurse at home. Child just turned 3 months.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all the input. I'm going to try all the suggestions and see what works the best. I seem to be producing enough to satisfy her on a normal day but if she is extra hungry it seems she gets frustrated because I have nothing extra to give her. I have no stored milk so it's like I'm living from paycheck to paycheck and she doesn't like formula. It's all so frustrating.

Thanks again for posting!!!

Featured Answers



answers from Philadelphia on

My pediatrician told me every 3 hrs also. I had to fly to florida for a family member who was passing. I started to dry up. Fortunately, i was home to breastfeed in 24 hrs. I think my biggest problem was not drinking enough water and stress.

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answers from Tampa on

Sounds good... just ensure you allow child full reign at home without ANY extras being given to the infant. Around 4 months your production will stabilize anyways and pumping may get harder. If you want to up it to every 2 hours to pump, that should be good.

Also, never assume your milk supply by what you can pump. The pump is like a crappy vacuum vs your infant being a brand new Dyson. Pumps get between 20-25% of your supply whereas the baby can get 100%.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pocatello on

Well pumping every 3 hours is good but no matter how good of a pump you have it just doesn't stimulate the breast and milk production they way a baby does. So it's not surprising that your milk is going down some. Can you not nurse your baby at all? Even nursing him/her some of the time and pumping the other would help boost your supply. Or you could try pumping a little more. Like do 2 hours then 3 hours then back to 2 hours etc.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Usually you'd want to pump as often as the baby would nurse. That doesn't sound like too much for that age. Also it is normal for supply to stabilize at some point, so you may have been in the position of making a lot of milk earlier and now it is moderating. So if it is, you may have higher expectations that what is "normal."

This is what kellymom has to say about avg pumping amts "Most moms who are nursing full-time are able to pump around 1/2 to 2 ounces total (for both breasts) per pumping session. Moms who pump more milk per session may have an oversupply of milk, or may respond better than average to the pump, or may have been able to increase pump output with practice. Many moms think that they should be able to pump 4-8 ounces per pumping session, but even 4 ounces is an unusually large pumping output."

Are you pumping enough today to leave for the baby tomorrow? If you are not, there are things to do to help. has lots of info for pumping at work (obviously!). You could also put a call in to a local La Leche League leader to troubleshoot your issues. If you go to you can find links to groups in your area.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

How old is your baby? My supply went down around three months and never went back up. I had a fantastic hospital grade pump, so I think it was me, not the pump's fault. If you're unable to breastfeed but can pump when your baby is around, give that a try. Hold your baby and cuddle while pumping (I know - somewhat difficult to do). Or cuddle with your baby and then immediately go pump. Your body somehow knows the baby is close by and will produce more milk.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I had a dip in production after returning to work too, but it has recovered. For 1 week I added an extra pumping session per day. Also, my lactation consultant advised me to try to pump 15 minutes after some of the feedings at home to stimulate more production.
The other thing I've found to be helpful is once I think I can't pump any more out, I switch my pump back to the "let down" cycle. I do that about 2 or 3 times during my pumping session & I get an extra 1/2 oz on each side. It seems to be helping make my sessions more efficient.
You may want to take a "breast feeding weekend", and just focus on breastfeeding & pumping. That might help too, to re-boost your supply.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

that sounds about accurate, it may help if you have a picture of the baby infront of you when you pump.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

How long are your pumping sessions? You should be pumping for at least 30 minutes each time. Make sure you are also using a good pump. Three hours is the recomended time between pumping sessions and works/has worked great for me. I exclusively pumped for 13 months for my oldest daughter, and have been pumping for my newborn. I have never needed to supplement, and pump an average of 50 ounces a day. The lactation specialists I saw all said that pumping was more efficient than direct feeding, and with the proper scheduling, you should maintain a large supply. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I successfully pumped and nursed my son for a year. It is a lot of work but your doing a good job! It is common to have your supply decrease when you are at work. I would pump every morning after I nursed and stored that milk and I also would always pump on the weekends too. As long as baby is happy after a feeding your getting enough. Sometimes while I was at work I would pump less than what my son was eating at home but when we were together and I nursed he was always content. You will produce what he needs. Hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I think every 3 hours is fine. If you do pump more often however, your body will respond and make more milk. supply and demand! be sure to drink lots of water and eat enough calories as well. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Hi N.

I had lots of milk and needed to pump every 2hours. My pumping schedule was 8am, 10am 12pm, 2pm or 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm each session lasting 10mins
I get off work at 4pm, I ready to nurse as soon as I get home or I pump. I took over the freezer for awhile. My daughter makes 11months this Saturday I only have a few oz of milk frozen so we're living "paycheck to paycheck" right now also. Now I pump twice at work sometimes 3 times.

Best of luck



answers from Seattle on

Every 3 hours should be good, given that it takes time to set everything up and stow it away it really isn't reasonable to be pumping any more often.
Remember that for most women (though I know some exceptions) just isn't as effective as your baby in getting milk. I pumped for a long time and never got more than 4 ounces total per session... it was nerve wracking, thinking my supply was low, but it was always enough for my daughter - I believe she just drank more when I nursed her, since she never really liked the bottle.
Good luck!



answers from Cumberland on

Drink lots of water-really hydrating water-like water produced by reverse osmosis.



answers from Washington DC on

I pumped 3x a day when she was that young and I was working, and nursed on demand the rest of the time. When she was older, I pumped once or twice a day, depending on need.

Are you pumping because someone else needs to feed your child or are you pumping exclusively and bottle feeding?

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