Over the years, there's been a significant increase in the number of women who pump breast milk. This is partially due to the fact that the 2010 Affordable Care Act made it a law for businesses to provide their breastfeeding employees reasonable break times and places to pump. There's also been so much progress in the ways that electric pumps work, that it now only takes 10 minutes to pump milk hands-free. Some devices can even be tucked into your bra! So, it's no wonder that a study found that 85 percent of all breastfeeding women in the US had at some point expressed milk before their baby was 5 months old.
So, how often should you pump if you're breastfeeding? Molly Petersen, certified lactation consultant at Lansinoh, said it really depends on what your goal is and how much milk you're already producing. "If mom is heading back to work or other commitments after giving birth, then she will need to pump to maintain her supply and provide expressed breastmilk for her baby to eat," she told POPSUGAR. "The general rule of thumb is that mom should pump at the same times that her baby would normally feed. This will give her body the signals to keep making breastmilk based on the baby's needs."
If you're trying to build up a stash of breast milk, Petersen suggested adding a pumping session after your first feeding session of the morning. "You may not express much at first, but your body will quickly respond, and you'll be able to start storing milk." It's important to be consistent, though, because if you start pumping a few times a day to boost your milk supply, you can end up with plugged ducts.
For moms that are already pumping, Petersen suggested tracking your supply. "Babies are generally more efficient than a pump at getting milk out of the breast, so a new mom may find that her baby is eating more expressed breastmilk than she's pumping," she said. "If this happens, mom can add an extra pumping session during the day to give her supply a little boost."