Did you know that breastfeeding mothers produce more milk when they pump every four hours?
According to the World Health Organization and Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, a minimum of eight feedings with pumping in between for optimal milk supply is recommended.
Pumping is one way to help keep milk production up and support a baby’s growing belly, but it can feel overwhelming at times.
You might think that you’re overdoing it by pumping every four hours.
If you are wondering how often you should pump and for how long, we are here to help you.
This article will help you understand why pumping every 4 hours is essential and how to do it efficiently.
How Can You Effortlessly Achieve Pumping Every 4 Hours?
The best way to increase your breast milk supply is by eating well, getting lots of rest, sleeping on your back, and allowing your body to heal.
To effortlessly achieve pumping every 4 hours, there are several things that you need to do.
1. Establish a Routine
The first step is getting into a routine. So, once you know your baby’s feeding pattern, try to pump at least 15 minutes after your baby has fed from one of your breasts.
This way, all the foremilk has been drained, and only the hindmilk remains in your breast, making it much easier to remove.
2. When to Start Pumping
The second step is knowing when to start pumping. To make sure that you have enough milk for your next feed, it’s recommended that you start pumping 20 minutes before the next meal.
Simply put, if your baby typically starts a feed at 8:00 am, you will begin to pump at 7:40 am instead of 8:00 am so that the milk is ready by 8:00 am in time for your baby’s feed.
3. When to Stop Pumping
You also need to know when to stop pumping. I would recommend stopping 5 minutes before the end of each session to ensure that all the milk has been removed from both breasts.
Benefits of Pumping Every 4 Hours
So, after knowing how easily you can do pumping after every 4 hours, you also need to know the benefits associated with it.
Here are the significant benefits that a mother can achieve from this practice
1. It Helps the Baby Gain Weight Well
Frequent pumping helps to increase milk production, helping your baby gain weight.
Newborns eat about 8 to 12 times in 24 hours, so if your baby is only feeding about 4 or 5 times, you may need to pump at the times when your baby would typically take a meal.
Normally, you can produce milk ranging anywhere from 24 ounces to 30 ounces per day.
However, anything more than 30 ounces is typically considered an oversupply.
Once you’ve established a good milk supply and your freezer stash, you can gradually wean yourself off the pump by pumping less often but still maintaining a good breastmilk supply.
2. It Allows You to Rest
Pumping every 4 hours gives you enough time to relax and eat and take care of yourself, which is crucial for keeping up with your milk supply. You must listen to your body so you’ll know when you need more sleep or food. This comes in handy if your baby is in the NICU or you have a baby who needs more attention than you can give while pumping.
3. It Helps you Make More Milk
Several studies confirm that pumping every 4 hours is the optimal schedule to keep your milk supply going.
And if you stick to it, you’ll also have a better chance of building up enough of a stash to go back to work or school.
The reason pumping every 4 hours works so well is that it mimics your baby’s feeding schedule, and tells your body exactly how much milk to produce.
As long as you’re getting enough sleep, eating and drinking well, and taking care of yourself, you can maximize your milk production.
4. Helps to Remove Extra Milk
Pumping every 4 hours removes extra milk that would otherwise leak.
Every time you breastfeed your baby, your body is stimulated to produce more milk.
Your breasts are constantly making milk, and they need to be emptied regularly. Otherwise, they’ll get engorged and start leaking, making nursing more painful for you.
The best way to get your baby off to a good start with breastfeeding is to pump every 4 hours.
Doing this keeps your breasts fully emptied, triggering the production of a hormone called prolactin which helps keep your breast tissue healthy, makes breastfeeding more manageable, and even helps you produce more milk.
However, it all depends on what you need then and how often you’re able to pump.
Remember that every mom and baby is different, so what works for one may not work for another. Give it a try and see if it will work out for you and your little one.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Pump Every 4 Hours?
If you have a good milk supply and are pumping just to empty the breasts, then it’s okay to pump every 4 hours.
But if you’re trying to build or maintain your milk supply, then pumping every 4 hours isn’t enough.
To keep your supply, you need to be pumping at least every 2-3 hours during the day.
Pumping every 4 hours is a good rule of thumb for moms who exclusively pump for their babies.
How Often Should I Pump?
It depends on your baby’s age, appetite, and schedule. Most newborns eat every 2 to 3 hours or 8 to 12 times every 24 hours.
It is a good idea to pump on between sessions if you are with your baby and you want to increase the milk supply.
When pumping at work, you should do it every three to four hours for about 15 to 20 minutes.
If you’re exclusively pumping (meaning you don’t breastfeed), then try pumping at least every three hours during the daytime and at least once during the night if your baby is sleeping longer between feedings.
Is pumping four times a day enough?
Yes. The more you pump, the more milk you will produce. But other than that, there is no harm in not doing it.
Pumping 4 times a day is enough to maintain supply in most cases, especially if you have a good pump and can remove plenty of milk during each session.
Pumping more often than this is unlikely to provide much additional benefit unless you pump very little during those sessions.
Also read: How To Pump into Storage Bags
Iesha is a loving mother of 2 beautiful children. She’s an active parent who enjoys indoor and outdoor adventures with her family. Her mission is to share practical and realistic parenting advice to help the parenting community becoming stronger.