Exclusive Pumping: How Often Should I Pump?

Exclusive pumping is a breastfeeding technique where moms pump breast milk and feed their baby with it exclusively. However, many moms are unsure of how often they should be pumping to maintain their supply and provide enough milk for their little ones. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of exclusive pumping as well as how often you should be pumping to ensure that your supply doesn’t dry up!

How often should I pump milk for my baby

It depends on how old your baby is. You should be pumping for a minimum of 120 minutes a day. If your baby is under 3 months old, you should be pumping more often for shorter durations.

If your baby is older, you can go longer times in between pumping but longer sessions.

Pumping schedule for exclusive pumping

With younger babies that are under 3 months of age, you will need to pump 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. This will establish a good milk supply and stay on the same schedule as your baby feeds.

Example schedule:

6am, 8am, 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, 11pm, 2am, 4am

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For an older baby, you should pump at least 6 times a day. To maintain your milk supply, be sure to increase the time that you are pumping.

Example schedule:

7am, 11am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 11pm

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Benefits of exclusive pumping

There are many benefits to exclusively pumping. One of the biggest benefits is that you can pump anywhere. It gives moms time to relax and take care of themselves without having to worry about getting back home to feed their baby or find a private place to feed them.

You will know your baby’s milk intake as well as your milk production when you exclusively pump.

What are the drawbacks to exclusively pumping

There can be some drawbacks at times to exclusively pumping. It can be very time-consuming and may cause your life to revolve around pumping.

It also requires a lot of planning as you will need to bring pumps with you everywhere and make sure that there is access to power if your pump doesn’t have a battery.

A pumping schedule is important! If you don’t pump often enough or long enough, your supply will dwindle.

There are a lot of bottles and pump parts that have to be washed and sterilized.

Tips for successful exclusive pumping

Here are some tips for success to exclusively pumping.

  • It’s important to have a backup plan in case you are running late or need help.
  • Make sure that the area you are pumping in is private and free of distractions so you can focus on pumping at that time.
  • Be sure you have access to a fridge to store your milk or have a cooler to travel in.
  • Make sure you have your pump charged before you head out or know where there is an outlet to plug into.
  • Choose a double electric pump so you can pump both sides at the same time.
  • Hospital grade pumps will ensure the most efficient pumping session.
  • Be patient with yourself, it takes practice! Many moms struggle with being efficient at exclusive pumping but will eventually become successful.

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FAQs about Exclusive Pumping

Is it bad to exclusively pump?

It is not bad to exclusively pump. Some moms choose to be an exclusive pumper because they are unable to nurse their babies while they are away. Others have a hard time with the latch and prefer to pump.

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Whatever you choose, neither is right or wrong. Choose what works best for you and your family. You are still giving your baby breast milk which is nutritionally optimal for them.

Can I go back and forth between breastfeeding and exclusive pumping?

It’s possible to switch back and forth but many times, but it can be challenging at times if your baby starts to have a preference.

When can you start exclusively pumping?

You can start right away if that is what you choose. Many moms start exclusively pumping around the time they are returning to work or when their babies are three months old.

How much milk should I produce?

It’s very individualized how much milk each mom produces. It can depend on your baby’s age. You can read more on how much breast milk your baby needs here.

How many ounces should I pump in a session?

This depends on the age of your baby. It’s important to completely empty the breast during your pumping sessions to keep your milk supply strong and to prevent any clogged ducts.

How long does it take to increase your supply when pumping?

A lot of moms want to make more milk to build a stash or up their supply.

This can vary from person to person. If you are doing a lot of power pumping and taking care of yourself with rest, water, and a well-balanced diet, you can see improvements as soon as 1 day.

Your milk supply is reliant on supply and demand. If you exclusively pump on a schedule and do not skip any pumping sessions, then you should have a good supply.

Will pumping every 2 hours increase my supply?

Pumping breast milk can increase your milk supply. When you are exclusively pumping, the more consistent that you are, and the more often you use your breast pump, the more it will send your body a signal that it needs to increase the breast milk being made.

Does pumping count as exclusively breastfeeding?

Exclusive breastfeeding is when you are giving your baby only breast milk. This is for when you are nursing baby or bottle feeding expressed milk.

Is pumping easier than breastfeeding?

This comes down to preference. Some moms enjoy pumping and others prefer to nurse their babies.

Is it normal to have a lot of milk?

Some moms produce a large amount of breast milk so they may feel like this is abnormal for them. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are different definitions for having “a lot” or being “oversupplied” so it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider about what is normal for you.

How long does milk last in the freezer?

It depends on how cold of a temperature your fridge or freezer can get down to and where it is stored in the freezer.

In general, breast milk can last 3-6 months in a deep freezer and should be stored in the back of your freezer to avoid temperature fluctuations. You can read more on storing and thawing breast milk here.

Can you pump too much when exclusively pumping?

You can cause an oversupply if you are over-pumping. Another problem can be irritation from overstimulation.

If you are trying to add pumping sessions to increase your supply and are having some irritation, try taking it slow and using a nipple cream before you use your breast pump and a cold compress to help with the pain.

Can I produce enough milk by just pumping?

Yes, you can produce enough milk by using a pump exclusively. Many moms produce more than enough breast milk with a breast pump.


Exclusive pumping can be a great way for moms to get the benefits of breastfeeding without having to worry about maintaining their milk supply. You must take care of your body by getting rest and staying hydrated, while also taking care of yourself with a nutritious diet and exercise.

I hope these tips will help you on the exclusive pumping journey!

Be sure to read The Best Breastfeeding Clothes to help make pumping easier.

About the author

Lacy Reason is a highly experienced and compassionate lactation counselor, who has dedicated her career to educating and supporting new mothers on their breastfeeding journey.