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    Home ›› When to express milk: how often should you pump?

    Home ›› When to express milk: how often should you pump?

    When to express milk: how often should you pump?


    Reading time: 5 mins.


    Wondering when to use a breast pump? If you go back to work while breastfeeding or are separated from your baby from time to time for other reasons, then another caregiver can bottle-feed your baby with expressed breast milk. You may also have chosen to feed your baby breast milk without breastfeeding.

    The great thing about pumping is that your baby doesn't have to miss out on precious breast milk even in your absence. How often should you express milk? If you’re wondering when to express milk, here you can find out everything you need to know about expressing and how often to pump breast milk.

    Dauer: 5 Min.

    How to use a breast pump 


    Before we delve into questions like how often should you pump, let’s focus on using a breast pump. It involves a few key steps:


    • Preparation: Make sure the pump is assembled correctly according to the instructions.
    • Attaching: Make sure the funnel only engages the nipple and as little of the areola as possible.
    • Cleaning: After pumping, take the pump apart and clean all individual parts with water and washing up liquid. Once a day boil them in hot water for five minutes. 
    • Storage: You can store expressed breast milk at room temperature for up to four hours, store in the fridge for up to five days (lower than 4°C), or freeze for up to six months. 


    Don't worry if you don't get it right the first time or if the process seems strange. Your body needs time to get used to it but, after a while, pumping will become straightforward.

    If you’re combining breastfeeding with bottle-feeding, it's a good idea to use a bottle that mimics the feeling of the breast so that the change is as gentle as possible for your baby. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle does just that, with a breast-like teat that allows a natural latch.

    A blonde woman wearing a beige sweater sits in a boho-themed lounge while using a manual breast pump.

    When to express milk


    The best time to express milk varies from person to person, but experts advise pumping immediately after a breastfeeding session. However, some mothers prefer to wait an hour before pumping. Try different times and you will notice when to use a breast pump to express the most milk most comfortably.

    It’s best to start with the second breastfed side. Babies usually drink more from the first breast before stopping when full, meaning there is still milk in the second that can be pumped.

    What you need

    How much milk should I express on a breast pumping schedule? 


    The amount of milk that can be collected per pumping session varies greatly from woman to woman. If you know that you’ll be bottle-feeding your baby, it makes sense to build up a supply of milk that you can draw on when you need it. You can mimic a breastfeeding schedule to draw up your own pumping schedule to increase milk supply.

    How often should you express milk if you aren’t breastfeeding?


    If you’re wondering “how often should I express milk?” the answer depends on how much milk you need. If you’re feeding your baby exclusively with expressed milk and aren’t breastfeeding, you should express as often as you would normally breastfeed your baby to maintain milk production (about eight times a day).

    How often should I express milk if I am breastfeeding?


    If you only feed your baby pumped milk from time to time, then pumping occasionally between feedings is enough. Are you wondering, “how many times a day should I pump while breastfeeding?” That depends on your feeding needs.


    If you plan to pump only occasionally, or want to pump on the go, you’ll find the manual model in the Philips Avent breast pump range is easy to assemble, lightweight and compact, making it especially convenient for when you're on the go.

    When can you start using a breast pump?


    You can start expressing soon after birth, but don't worry if you're not able to pump as much milk as you need right from the start. You can learn more about when can you start using a breast pump and how to express milk. You can also stimulate your milk production by breastfeeding more often and creating a breast pumping schedule. 

    In order for the milk to flow properly, the so-called milk-giving reflex must also be triggered. In addition to using a pumping schedule to increase milk supply, you can stimulate this reflex by warming up your breasts beforehand and by massaging them before and during pumping – some pumps can do this for you. The electric breast pump in the Philips Avent breast pump range has a gentle massage pad that initiates milk flow by gently stimulating the milk-giving reflex. 

    Now you know how often to pump breast milk you can learn more about how to bottle feed your baby. 

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