How Long Do I Use a Breast Pump?
Pumping breast milk is a reality for many women because there isn’t always time to breastfeed. Breast pumps can help stock pile milk so that there is more on hand and the milk has benefits for growing babies that formula mixes don’t provide. It is up to the woman using the breast pump on how long to use it. She should base the length of use on comfort, productivity and the feeding schedule of her baby.
Vacuum-based electric breast pumps can cause discomfort to the woman using them. Once the plastic shield is applied and the pump turned on, the woman should only use it as long as she is comfortable. If any pain is experienced during pumping because of the amount of suction, check the instructions on the pump or talk to a lactation consultant for help. Manual breast pumps can also cause discomfort but not as much because they work more slowly than the electric version.
Use the pump(s) for as long as you are comfortable. It is best to completely empty each breast before switching or before stopping. It takes a minimum of 10 minutes for the pump to empty the breast.
Depending on the efficiency of the pump, and your level of sensitivity, you can be finished pumping in 10 to 15 minutes. Using a double pump can increase productivity and expedite pumping time. La Leche League International (LLLI) reports that “A mother who lets down easily with a good pump can be finished in as little as 10 minutes rather than at least twice that time for pumping one breast at a time.” Productivity depends on the amount of suction so if the pump is not providing enough suction, it can take longer than the estimated 10 to 15 minutes.
The length of time for pumping can also depend on your feeding schedule. Pumping after feeding, if the baby didn’t empty the breast, can be much quicker than the estimated time given by LLLI. If you are pumping between feedings, then give it at least 15 minutes to pump or allow it to empty the breast. This really depends on how often you feed your baby and how quickly your milk is produced. If you only breastfeed once or twice per day, then pump as often and for as long as necessary to empty the breasts. Be sure any time breast milk is expressed to follow correct storage instructions.