When to Start Pumping Post-Baby

Everything a mother needs to know about getting started with pumping

Now that your baby is here and everyone is home, healthy and happy, you can officially start pumping (yay!). But when exactly is the right time to start pumping? Why is it a good idea to wait a few weeks after delivery? And why might a mom need to start pumping at the hospital or shortly after bringing baby home? Here’s our list of everything mothers need to know about perfectly timing that first pump.

Tips for starting a pumping relationship post-baby

It’s typically a good idea to wait about a month before pumping regularly.

During those first weeks, nursing on demand allows your baby to boost and establish your supply to match his or her needs. Then, when your supply has regulated a bit, you can start adding in pumping sessions.

Of course, there are instances when a mom will need to start pumping from day one or very early on.

For example, you may have to pump in the hospital if your baby can’t latch or isn’t latching well. This helps stimulate your milk production and allows baby to get breast milk through a bottle, syringe, feeding tube or other device.

It is also possible that you may have to start pumping during those very first days and weeks at home.

Pumping is helpful in lots of different situations, like if you need to keep track of intake (due to concerns with weight gain or other medical reasons), you have a very short maternity leave and need to build a stash, or you need an occasional bottle while you’re away or on the go. And while your supply is still regulating, you might battle a bit of engorgement. A short pump—just long enough to relieve some pressure—can help with that discomfort without causing overproduction issues.

Once you’ve established your supply, start adding in pumping sessions as needed.

Do this occasionally or once a day, while also continuing to nurse frequently. (Don’t need or want to pump? That’s cool too—nurse on!) If you’re able to pump at the same time each day, your body may respond and regulate to that higher volume output more quickly.

Good times to build in an extra pumping session include:

  • After the first morning feeding: Many moms find their supply to be higher after some rest at night.
  • When baby naps or sleeps a longer stretch: If he or she ends up waking soon after, you can offer the breast (your body will make more milk) or the bottle you just pumped.
  • Between feedings: Even if you only pump a small amount, that milk can be combined with milk from other pumping sessions to make a full feeding.

An IBCLC (International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant) is an amazing resource for any mom, no matter when you begin pumping. The team at Ashland Health can help you set up a consultation with an IBCLC who can create a pumping plan that fits your lifestyle and schedule. The key with pumping—as with all things motherhood-related—is to figure out what works for you!