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Complete Breast Pumping Guide: When To & How Often To Pump

Nutrition & Food / Last Updated on Apr 13, 2023 / Vetted by Dr Jasmin Rajesh, MBBS, MD (Ped.)
Pumping for better health

Time is a luxury that new moms may not always have. You may need to step out for work or other unavoidable errands. For such times, with a relevant breast pumping guide, you can pump optimally and store your breast milk in advance. So your baby can be fed your milk from a bottle or with a spoon and bowl.

When can I start pumping?

If you do not produce enough milk, you can start pumping soon after your baby is born to increase the supply of milk. If you are going back to work, you should begin pumping a few weeks beforehand with a proper breast pumping time schedule as per your convenience since you will need practice and time for the breastmilk to start flowing easily with a pump. Your baby will also need time to adapt to drinking milk from a bottle or with a spoon.

How Often Do You Need to Pump?

As a rule of thumb, pump as many times as your baby breastfeeds. This helps the body produce the quantity of milk your baby requires. The amount of milk required by every baby may be different, and it also changes as they grow. You may need to increase the number of times you pump milk if the baby needs more. To know how much your baby needs, simply pump and see how much your baby is able to consume; keep calibrating as the baby grows.

Types of Breast Pumps

There are two types of breastfeeding pumps available:
  • Hand-operated or manual pump: Although smaller, cheaper, and more discreet, this pump needs more effort and time to use; therefore, it may not be suitable for everyone.
  • Electric pump: It is louder, more expensive, and bulkier, but requires less effort and saves time as some models allow pumping of both breasts simultaneously.

Breast Pumping Safety Guidelines

Although breast milk is not sterile after it is pumped, bacteria do not grow in it easily due to its anti-infective properties. However, you should follow these breast pumping tips while handling pumped milk to avoid introducing any outside microorganisms into the breastmilk:

Hygiene Steps to Keep in Mind

Maintaining a clean pump is important, as any germs on the pump or the pumped milk can harm your baby. Here are a few breast pump hygiene steps to include in your routine:
  • Before you assemble it, wash your hands and inspect the pump thoroughly for any dirt or mould.
  • After you finish pumping milk, store the milk in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Then, take apart all the parts of the pump and clean them as explained in the manual.
  • For extra protection, sanitise all pump parts at least once daily by placing them in boiling water for five minutes. Any other equipment that does not get damaged at a high temperature, including the bottle and brush, can also be sanitised with the pump.
  • Allow all the pump parts to air dry completely, then reassemble the pump and store it in a clean place. 

How To Store and Feed Breast Milk After Pumping

Learning how to optimally store is a vital step in the process of breast pumping. You always want to provide your baby with the best. Take a look at the tips for optimal breast pumping milk storage:
  • Use only breastmilk storage bags or clean food-grade containers that have a well-fitted lid made of glass or plastic to store your breastmilk in small amounts sufficient for a single feed to prevent any wastage.
  • Keep a little empty space in the container as the breastmilk expands when frozen. Storing breastmilk in the door of the fridge or freezer will expose it to temperature variations and should be avoided.
  • You can store pumped milk for up to four hours at room temperature (25°C or below) and up to four days in the refrigerator. Breast milk stored in the freezer is best used within six months; however, up to a year is acceptable.
  • Frozen breast milk can be thawed by keeping it in the refrigerator overnight or in a pot of warm water for use straightaway. Do not thaw or heat the expressed milk in a microwave, as it destroys the nutrients and may burn your baby’s mouth.
  • Breastmilk should be used in 24 hours after it is thawed in the refrigerator. Once it is brought to room temperature, it should be used up in two hours.
  • You can feed your baby breastmilk at room temperature or cold. If you choose to warm it, you can place the breastmilk container in a pot of warm water or under running warm water for a few minutes. Swirl the milk gently to mix the separated fat.
  • Breastmilk that has been thawed should not be put back in the freezer.

Although initially bothersome, pumping allows you to provide your little one with breast milk when you are away. It also lets your partner and other family members feed your baby while you get a much-needed break.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pumping breast milk [2020]. 
  2. KidsHealth. Breastfeeding FAQs: pumping [2015]. 
  3. University of Rochester Medical Center. Using a breast pump 
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How to keep your breast pump kit clean: the essentials [2020]. 
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Proper storage and preparation of breast milk 

More Blogs on Breast Pumping

1. How To Use Manual Breast Pumps Step By Step

2. Best Breastfeeding Breast Pumps in India

3. Best Electric Breast Pumps Reviews


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