How Long Should You Pump For?


Breast pumping is an essential part of a mother’s breastfeeding journey. It allows mothers to express milk and store it for later use, ensuring that their babies receive proper nutrition even when they are apart. However, many new mothers often wonder How Long Should You Pump For? each session.

The answer to this question varies from person to person and depends on several factors. In this article, we will discuss the different factors that can affect how long you should pump for and provide some general guidelines to help you determine your pumping duration.

How Long Should You Pump For?

Understanding Your Breast Pumping Goals

Before delving into the specifics of how long you should pump, it’s crucial to understand your personal goals and circumstances. Your reasons for pumping can vary greatly, from building a milk stash for future use to exclusively pumping due to work commitments. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Occasional Pumping

If you’re pumping occasionally to have a backup supply or for the occasional night out, you won’t need to pump as frequently as someone exclusively pumping.

  • Exclusive Pumping

For mothers exclusively pumping, the duration and frequency of pumping sessions become even more critical as it replaces direct breastfeeding entirely.

Baby’s Age and Needs


Newborns have smaller stomachs and feed more frequently. Hence, shorter, more frequent pumping sessions are often recommended.

For newborns, aim is to pump at least every 2-3 hours, including nights, to establish and maintain your milk supply.

Older Infants

As your baby grows, you can gradually reduce the frequency of pumping sessions to every 3-4 hours.their feeding patterns change, and you can adjust your pumping schedule accordingly.

Factors That Affect Pumping Duration that How Long Should You Pump For?

Baby’s Age

The age of your baby plays a significant role in determining how long you should pump for. Newborn babies require more frequent feedings and, therefore, shorter pumping sessions compared to older babies who can go longer between feedings.

Milk Supply

Mothers with an abundant milk supply may need to pump for a shorter duration than those with a low supply. This is because their bodies produce milk at a faster rate, and they may feel full or uncomfortable if they pump for too long.

Purpose of Pumping

The purpose of pumping also affects the duration. If you are exclusively pumping, you may need to pump for longer sessions to maintain your milk supply. However, if you are supplementing breastfeeding with pumped milk, shorter sessions may be sufficient.

Comfort Level

Pumping should not be painful or uncomfortable. If you experience any discomfort or pain, it may be a sign that you are pumping for too long. It is essential to listen to your body and adjust the duration accordingly.

General Guidelines for Pumping Duration

While the factors mentioned above play a significant role, here are some general guidelines on how long you should pump for:

 Pumping Duration per Session

15-20 Minutes

In most cases, pumping for 15-20 minutes per breast is sufficient to empty the milk ducts effectively.

Milk Supply


If you have an oversupply of milk, shorter pumping sessions may suffice to avoid engorgement.

 Low Supply

Mothers with lower milk supply may need longer pumping sessions or more frequent pumping to meet their baby’s needs.

 Pump Efficiency

 Double vs. Single Pumping

Using a double breast pump can significantly reduce pumping time compared to single pumping.

 Pump Strength

Adjust the pump’s suction strength to match your comfort level and maximize milk expression

Storage Goals

Building a Stash

If your goal is to build a freezer stash, consider pumping an additional session in the morning when milk supply is typically higher.

 Maintaining Supply

To maintain a consistent milk supply, follow a pumping routine that mimics your baby’s feeding pattern.

Remember that these are just guidelines, and you should always adjust the duration to fit your specific needs and situation. If you feel like you need to pump for longer or shorter periods, don’t be afraid to do so.

It is also essential to note that pumping output does not necessarily indicate milk supply. Some mothers may produce a large amount of milk in a short time, while others may need to pump for longer to get the same output.

Listening to Your Body

One of the most crucial aspects of determining how long you should pump for is listening to your body. Here’s what you should pay attention to;

  • Pain or Discomfort

If pumping becomes painful or uncomfortable, it’s a sign to stop or adjust your pump settings.

  • Slower Flow

When your milk flow slows down significantly during a session, it’s an indication that you may have emptied the breast.


In conclusion, there is no set duration on how long you should pump for. It varies from person to person and depends on several factors such as baby’s age, milk supply, purpose of pumping, and comfort level. As a general guideline, you can follow the recommended durations for different stages of your baby’s growth. However, always listen to your body and adjust accordingly. Remember that the most important thing is to ensure that your baby receives proper nutrition while maintaining your own well-being as a mother.


Q: Can I pump for too long?

A: Pumping excessively for extended periods may lead to discomfort and overstimulation. It’s essential to find a balance that works for you.

Q: How do I know if I’m pumping enough milk?

A: Monitoring your baby’s growth and weight gain, along with the number of wet diapers, can help you gauge if you’re pumping enough milk.

Q: Is it okay to pump while breastfeeding?

A: Pumping while breastfeeding can help increase milk supply and build a stash, but it’s essential to find the right timing to avoid overstimulation.

Q: Can I store breast milk from different pumping sessions together?

Yes, you can combine breast milk from different pumping sessions, but make sure to cool them to the same temperature before mixing.

Q: Should I follow a strict pumping schedule?

A: While consistency is important, flexibility is also key. Adapt your pumping schedule as needed to accommodate your and your baby’s changing needs.

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