How To Create A Schedule For Breastfeeding And Pumping: 10 Best Tips

Do you need help to create a seamless breastfeeding and pumping schedule that fits into your busy life as a new mom?

Imagine a routine where pumping and breastfeeding harmonize perfectly, offering you flexibility and peace of mind. Whether you’re a working mom or juggling the demands of home, mastering this balance is vital to maintaining a healthy milk supply and ensuring your baby gets the best nutrition.

Think about this: a schedule that adapts to your lifestyle, allowing you to nourish your baby quickly and confidently. With the right approach, combining breastfeeding and pumping can become an empowering part of your motherhood journey, not a stressful chore.

Read on as I guide you through practical, tried-and-tested strategies to create a pumping schedule that works for you.

Discover how to manage your time, maintain your milk supply, and enjoy the bonding experience with your baby while caring for yourself. 

1. Why Start a Combined Breastfeeding and Pumping Schedule?

Motherhood brings with it a spectrum of choices, especially when it comes to nourishing your little one. Among these choices is creating a breastfeeding schedule combined with pumping—a strategy that offers numerous benefits for mom and baby.

  • A combined breastfeeding and pumping schedule offers flexibility, enabling working moms or those with other responsibilities to ensure their baby is fed even in their absence. It also allows caregivers or partners to share feeding duties for rest or time management.
  • Regular breastfeeding and pumping are essential for maintaining and boosting milk supply, as they stimulate increased production in a supply-and-demand cycle, especially crucial in the early postpartum weeks.
  • Pumping allows you to create a stash of breast milk supply. This reserve is invaluable for unexpected situations like a medical emergency or planning to be away from your baby for some time.
  • Introducing a pump aids babies in adjusting to bottle feeding and direct breastfeeding, easing their transition to daycare or time with caregivers beyond the mother.
  • Blending breastfeeding and pumping empowers you with flexibility and assurance in meeting your baby’s dietary needs, even when you’re away.
  • Breast milk, whether fed directly or pumped, contains all the necessary nutrients and antibodies your baby needs.

2. Understanding Your Milk Supply: How Pumping and Breastfeeding Affect It

The world of breastfeeding and pumping can sometimes feel like a delicate dance, particularly when understanding and managing your milk supply. Knowing how your body responds to breastfeeding and pumping is crucial in maintaining a healthy supply for your little one.

The Science of Supply and Demand: At the heart of milk production is a simple rule – supply and demand. Your body is a remarkable system that adjusts milk production based on how frequently and efficiently milk is removed from the breasts. When you breastfeed or pump, you signal your body to produce more milk.

Impact of Regular Breastfeeding: Regular breastfeeding is vital in establishing and maintaining your milk supply. Each feeding session stimulates your breasts to produce more milk. It’s a natural and effective way to ensure your body meets your baby’s nutritional needs.

Boosting Supply with Pumping: Pumping, in addition to breastfeeding, can enhance this process, especially if you’re aiming to increase your supply. Establishing a milk supply is essential when pumping in the early stages of breastfeeding. Pumping after or between breastfeeding sessions can provide additional stimulation, encouraging your body to produce more milk.

Balancing Breastfeeding and Pumping: Finding the right balance between breastfeeding and pumping is vital. Overpumping can lead to an oversupply, which, while it sounds beneficial, can bring challenges like engorgement, discomfort, and a fussy baby due to a forceful milk let-down. Conversely, not pumping enough, especially if you’re separated from your baby frequently, can reduce your supply.

Responding to Your Baby’s Growth: Your baby’s feeding needs will change as they grow, and your milk supply will adjust accordingly. Growth spurts, for example, may require more frequent feedings and thus more milk production. Pumping can help meet these increased demands and ensure a steady supply.

Quality of Milk: It’s also crucial to understand that the makeup of breast milk varies during different times of the day and as your baby develops. Breastfeeding ensures that your baby gets this varied composition of their developmental needs. Pumping can help maintain this quality when direct breastfeeding isn’t possible.

Monitoring Your Supply: Keeping an eye on your baby’s growth and satisfaction after feedings can help you gauge if your supply is adequate. Signs of a good milk supply include steady weight gain in your baby, regular wet and soiled diapers, and general contentment after feedings.

Tailoring Your Approach: Every woman’s body and ability to produce milk differ. Some may find they have an abundant supply with minimal effort, while others might need to work harder to maintain their desired supply. Tailoring your breastfeeding and pumping routine to fit your body’s response and your baby’s needs is essential.

3. When to Start Pumping: Finding the Best Time for You and Your Baby

Introducing a breast pump into your breastfeeding routine requires considering your and your baby’s needs, and your circumstances.

It’s advised to start pumping after breastfeeding is well-established, usually between three to six weeks postpartum, to ensure a strong latch and a regulated milk supply.

Pumping too early can lead to oversupply, causing discomfort and feeding difficulties.

Exceptions exist, such as when a baby can’t latch properly or there are health issues requiring early pumping to maintain milk supply. Once breastfeeding is going well, integrate pumping, ideally in the morning or after nursing sessions, to increase milk production.

For those returning to work, begin pumping two to three weeks before to build a milk stash and familiarize your baby with bottle feeding.

Every mother-baby pair is different, and adjustments in pumping frequency might be needed.

The goal is a balance between sufficient milk production through both breastfeeding and pumping, avoiding oversupply, and ensuring your baby thrives on breast milk, regardless of the feeding method.

4. Creating a Balanced Breastfeeding and Pumping Schedule

Creating a harmonious breastfeeding and pumping schedule involves aligning it with your life’s rhythm and your baby’s needs. The aim is to ensure your baby is well-fed while comfortably fitting the routine into your daily life.

Start by observing your baby’s natural feeding patterns, as newborns feed every two to three hours. Pay attention to hunger cues like rooting or sucking fingers to determine breastfeeding frequency.

Integrate pumping into your routine consistently, preferably in the morning when the milk supply is usually highest.

Your schedule will change as your baby grows. For instance, a one-month-old may require feeding every few hours with additional pumping sessions for milk storage.


If you’re a working mom, you might breastfeed at home and pump during work to maintain supply.

Listen to your body when creating your schedule; some may need to pump frequently, while others less so. It’s essential to pump or breastfeed when you feel complete to maintain comfort.

Flexibility is crucial, as each day can bring new needs. Adjust your routine to suit your and your baby’s changing requirements. Communication with your partner, family, or caregiver is vital in supporting your breastfeeding and pumping goals.

Ultimately, with patience and observation, you’ll develop a schedule that supports your baby’s health and integrates smoothly into your life.

5. Sample Schedules: Breastfeeding and Pumping for Different Ages and Stages

Creating a schedule that works and aligns with your baby’s developmental stages is dynamic. Each stage of your baby’s growth brings new patterns and needs.

Here, we’ll explore a few sample breastfeeding and pumping schedules for various ages, helping you envision a plan that adapts to your baby’s evolving requirements.


These schedules are merely templates. Be prepared to adapt and change your schedule based on your baby’s growth, development, and changing needs.

A balanced breastfeeding and pumping schedule meet your baby’s nutritional needs while considering your well-being and lifestyle.

It’s a journey of adaptation, patience, and learning, and each stage brings joy and challenges. Embrace this journey confidently, knowing you provide the best care for your baby at every step.

6. Exclusive Pumping: When Direct Breastfeeding Isn’t an Option

Exclusive pumping is a commitment to providing breast milk to your baby without direct breastfeeding.

Choose this necessary approach for various reasons, including latch issues, health complications, personal preference, or a baby’s inability to breastfeed. Whatever the reason, exclusive pumping is a valid and commendable way to nourish your baby.

Understanding Exclusive Pumping: Exclusive pumping means expressing milk through a breast pump to feed your baby exclusively with breast milk. It requires dedication, as you must pump frequently to maintain your milk supply and meet your baby’s nutritional needs.

Establishing and Maintaining Milk Supply: To mimic a baby’s natural feeding rhythm, aim to pump every 2-3 hours in the early weeks, totaling 8-12 pumping sessions in 24 hours. Each session should last about 15-20 minutes or until your milk flow stops. Consistency is vital in building and maintaining a healthy milk supply.

Creating an Exclusive Pumping Schedule: Here’s a sample schedule for exclusive pumping, particularly useful in the early months:

  • Morning (6 AM – 9 AM): Pump every 2-3 hours. Many mothers find their milk supply is highest in the morning, making it an excellent time to stockpile extra milk.
  • Daytime (9 AM – 6 PM): Pump every 2-3 hours. If you work or have other commitments, plan your schedule to accommodate regular pumping breaks.
  • Evening (6 PM – Midnight): Maintain the 2-3 hour pumping schedule. These sessions are crucial for keeping up your supply.
  • Overnight (Midnight – 6 AM): Try to pump at least once, though some mothers opt to pump more frequently depending on their milk supply and personal comfort.

The Role of Pump Quality: I recommend a high-quality, double-electric pump for exclusive pumpers. It saves time and ensures efficient milk extraction.

Managing the Emotional Aspect: Exclusive pumping can be emotionally taxing. It is essential to build a support system, whether it’s your partner, family, friends, or online communities. Sharing experiences and getting encouragement can make a significant difference.

Exclusive pumping is a noble and sometimes necessary path for feeding your baby.

It requires dedication, organization, and resilience. You are providing your baby with the best possible start in life, and that’s something to be incredibly proud of.

Embrace your exclusive pumping journey confidently, knowing you’re doing a fantastic job.

7. Tips for Successfully Combining Breastfeeding and Pumping

Combining breastfeeding and pumping is like mastering a fine art—it requires patience, practice, and a good dose of practical wisdom.

Here are some tips to help you confidently in this journey, ensuring you and your baby reap the benefits of your hard work.

1. Choose the Right Pump: Selecting a suitable breast pump is crucial. For occasional pumping, a manual pump might suffice. However, if you combine regular breastfeeding with pumping or return to work, invest in a good-quality electric or double electric pump. It’s more efficient and saves time.

2. Create a Comfortable Pumping Space: Ensure your pumping area is comfortable. It could be a cozy corner in your home or a private workplace space. Comfort while pumping can positively impact your milk flow.

3. Maintain a Consistent Schedule: Try to pump around the exact daily times. Consistency helps regulate your milk supply and aligns with your baby’s feeding routine. If you miss a breastfeeding session, replace it with a pumping session to maintain supply.


4. Store Milk Safely: Know the basics of breast milk storage. Use clean containers, and follow guidelines for refrigerating and freezing breast milk. Proper storage ensures the milk retains its nutritional and immunological properties.

5. Stay Hydrated and Eat Well: Your body needs extra hydration and nutrition to produce milk. Ensure you stay well-hydrated and follow a nutritious and balanced diet. Think of food as your fuel – it impacts both the quantity and quality of your milk.

6. Relax and Stay Calm: Stress can negatively affect your milk supply. Find ways to relax before and during pumping. Deep breathing, listening to calming music, or looking at pictures of your baby can help.

7. Use Hands-on Pumping: Hands-on pumping, where you massage and compress your breasts while pumping, can increase the amount of milk you express. This technique helps empty the breasts more effectively, potentially boosting your supply.


8. Don’t Overlook Breast Care: Regular pumping can sometimes lead to sore nipples or dry skin. Use a safe, nipple-friendly moisturizer and ensure your pump’s flanges are the correct size. Good breast care is essential for a comfortable pumping experience.

9. Monitor Your Baby’s Response: Keep an eye on how your baby reacts to the bottle and the breast. Some babies need time to adjust between the two. Patience is key.

10. Seek Support When Needed: Don’t hesitate to seek support. It can be from lactation consultants, breastfeeding support groups, or healthcare professionals. Sharing experiences and getting advice can be incredibly helpful.

11. Be Flexible and Patient: Your routine might need tweaking as you go. Be open to changing your schedule based on your baby’s needs and your own. Remember, what works one week might need adjustment the next.


8. Storing Breast Milk Safely: Guidelines for Pumping Parents

For many pumping parents, understanding how to store breast milk safely is as important as the pumping itself.

Proper storage ensures that the milk retains its nutritional quality and is safe for your baby.

Here’s a comprehensive guide from the CDC on safely pumping and storing breast milk:

1. Clean and Sterilize Storage Containers: Always use clean and sterilized bottles or breast milk storage bags. Bacteria from unclean containers can contaminate the milk. Choose BPA-free containers specifically designed for breast milk storage.

2. Immediate Cooling: Cool breast milk as soon as possible after pumping. Recently pumped breast milk can remain at room temperature (no higher than 77°F or 25°C) for roughly 4 hours, though it is advisable to refrigerate or freeze it as soon as possible.

3. Refrigeration Guidelines: Store breast milk in the back, where the temperature is most consistent. Store for up to four days. Make sure not to place it in the door area, as the temperature there can vary with regular opening and closing.

4. Freezing Breast Milk: If you’re not planning to use the refrigerated milk within four days, freeze it. Breast milk stored in a regular freezer remains suitable for up to six months, while in a deep freezer, it can last for as long as 12 months. Be mindful to leave some room at the top of your storage container since liquids expand upon freezing.

5. Thawing and Warming Milk: Thaw frozen milk in the refrigerator overnight or by holding the container under warm running water. Avoid using a microwave to thaw or heat breastmilk, leading to uneven heating and potentially scalding your baby’s mouth with hot spots. Once thawed, use the milk within 24 hours and never refreeze it.

6. Labeling is Key: Tag your breast milk containers with the specific date and time of expression. This practice helps you use the oldest milk first and keeps track of your stock.

7. Transporting Breast Milk: If you need to transport breast milk, use an insulated cooler with ice packs. It can safely stay in the cooler for about 24 hours. Once you reach your destination, refrigerate or freeze the milk immediately.

8. Mixing Milk from Different Pumping Sessions: It’s safe to combine milk from different pumping sessions, but cool the freshly pumped milk before adding it to previously chilled or frozen milk.

9. Discard Unused Milk: Discard the remaining milk if your baby doesn’t finish a bottle. Reusing milk can risk bacterial contamination.

10. Wash Hands Before Handling: Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling breast milk. It reduces the risk of contaminating the milk with bacteria.

11. Trust Your Senses: If breast milk smells or tastes sour, it’s best to discard it. Trust your senses; they are often the best indicators of whether the milk is still good.

Each drop of breast milk holds immense value, and your dedication to pumping and securely storing it is crucial in nurturing your baby’s health and overall well-being.

9. Overcoming Challenges: Dealing with Low Supply and Other Issues

In the journey of breastfeeding and pumping, it’s not uncommon to encounter challenges such as low milk supply, nipple discomfort, or difficulties in scheduling. Addressing these issues with informed strategies can help you overcome them effectively.

Let’s dive into some common challenges and how to navigate them.

Low Milk Supply

1. Frequency is Key: If you’re concerned about low milk supply, the first strategy is to increase the frequency of breastfeeding and pumping. The principle of supply and demand governs breast milk production; thus, increased frequency in nursing or pumping can lead to higher milk production.

2. Check Pump Efficiency: Ensure your breast pump is working correctly. A pump that doesn’t effectively mimic a baby’s sucking can be less effective at removing milk, leading to a decreased supply.

3. Hydrate and Nourish Your Body: Your body needs plenty of fluids and a balanced diet to produce milk. Drink water regularly and eat nutrient-rich foods. Sometimes, specific lactation teas or foods known as galactagogues can help increase supply.

4. Power Pumping: Power pumping – pumping for 10 minutes, resting for 10 minutes, and repeating for an hour – can help stimulate more milk production. It’s meant to mimic cluster feeding (when babies feed more frequently at certain times).

5. Skin-to-Skin Contact: Skin-to-skin contact with your baby can increase the levels of hormones that help produce milk. It’s also beneficial for bonding.

6. Consult a Lactation Expert: If you’re struggling with low milk supply, consider consulting a lactation consultant. They can offer personalized advice and solutions.

Nipple Discomfort and Soreness

1. Correct Pump Flange Size: Using the correct size of pump flanges (the part that fits over your nipple) can prevent discomfort. The wrong length can cause chafing or inefficient pumping.

2. Use Nipple Cream: Safe, nipple-friendly creams or lanolin can soothe sore nipples. Ensure any product you use is safe for your baby.

3. Adjust Suction Settings: If the pump’s suction is too high, it can cause discomfort. Experiment with lower settings that are comfortable yet effective.

Balancing Pumping with Life’s Other Demands

1. Establish a Routine: Create a routine that integrates pumping into your daily schedule. Consistency can reduce stress and make pumping more manageable.

2. Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to ask for help from your partner, family, or friends. Support can be in baby care, household tasks, or just being there to offer encouragement.

3. Use a Hands-Free Pumping Bra: A hands-free pumping bra allows you to pump while keeping your hands free, making it easier to multitask or relax during pumping sessions.

4. Be Kind to Yourself: It’s okay if things don’t go perfectly. Be kind to yourself and recognize the effort you’re putting in.

It often requires a combination of practical strategies, support, and, sometimes, professional advice.

These challenges are a standard part of the nursing journey and don’t define your success as a mother. 

10. The Emotional Aspect: Balancing Bonding and Practicality

When embarking on the journey of combining breastfeeding and pumping, it’s vital to recognize the emotional dimensions of this experience.

This journey is not just about milk production or schedules; it’s also about nurturing a deep, emotional bond with your baby and managing your emotional well-being.

Let’s explore balancing these emotional aspects while maintaining the practical side of breastfeeding and pumping.


Regularly take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate what you’re doing. Providing breast milk, whether through breastfeeding or pumping, is an incredible gift to your baby. Recognize your effort, dedication, and the love you’re pouring into this journey.

Wrapping Up Your Breastfeeding and Pumping Journey

In closing, the journey of combining breastfeeding and pumping is a deeply personal and rewarding experience.

It’s about creating a rhythm that works for you and your baby, meeting their nutritional needs while accommodating your schedule and lifestyle. The key to a successful breastfeeding and pumping routine lies in flexibility, understanding your body’s and baby’s needs, and being gentle with yourself through the process.

Cherish the moments of connection with your baby, embrace the empowerment of managing your milk supply, and take pride in your incredible job.

With patience, perseverance, and a touch of creativity, you’ll find that this journey is filled with moments of joy and fulfillment, though sometimes challenging.

Here’s to your journey – filled with love, health, and happiness for you and your little one.

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