How Long Should You Pump for Breast Milk?

Medically Reviewed on 5/18/2022
Breast pumping
Ideally, you should pump for at least 15-20 minutes from each breast.

Breast pumping is a great option for all women and, more so, a wonderful invention for working women. This technique helps women provide their children with breast milk when they cannot feed directly from their breasts.

Ideally, you should pump for at least 15-20 minutes from each breast. In the early days, it may take 30 minutes or more and that is fine unless your breasts do not pain on touch.

While pumping, the breast milk may take a few minutes to come out. Even after the breast milk stops coming after the pumping has finished, wait for at least 5 minutes and pump again to empty the breast fully. Incomplete emptying of the breasts can lead to conditions such as mastitis or inflammation of the breasts.

How often in a day should you pump?

The number of times you need to pump in a day depends on your baby’s age.

Table. The quantity of breast milk needed to be pumped for a baby
Age of babyQuantity of the breast milk/day (ounces)The average speed of pumping
2 weeks242-3 ounces every 2-3 hours
1 month24-323-4 ounces every 3-4 hours
6 months36-486-8 ounces every 4-6 hours

Tips for the breast pumping phase

The following tips may be helpful during the breast pumping phase:

  • De-stress yourself: Stress can hamper the production and flow of breast milk. Therefore, relax. Find a quiet place for pumping. You can listen to soothing music or look at your baby’s picture while you attempt pumping.
  • Pump often and frequently: The more number of times you pump, the more effective the stimulation of the breast milk and the more breast milk is pumped out. If you can, try pumping for 15 minutes several times a day.
  • Pump smart: If you do not get time for pumping several times in a day, make use of a double breast pump. This will reduce your time by half.
  • Limit caffeinated drinks: Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, can interfere with your baby’s sleep and cause them to become irritable. Their diuretic action (increasing urine output) can deplete you of fluids, causing dehydration. Dehydration can affect the production of milk.
  • Drink plenty of fluids: Prefer drinking water over any other fluid for staying hydrated. You can also drink juices, but make sure you prepare them at home. Outside juices may contain sugar and are low in fiber. Beverages, such as soda, also contain a lot of sugar and can reduce the amount of fluid that your body normally retains.
  • Keep a gap between alcoholic drinks and pumping: If you are craving alcoholic drinks, have only a glass of drink (only after you get a nod from your doctor), and that too occasionally. Avoid breastfeeding for 2 hours afterward.
  • Stay away from smoking: Smoking can change the taste of your breast milk and lower breast milk production. The smoke can also cause serious respiratory issues in your baby.
  • Take good care of yourself: Taking care of your newborn does not mean that you should ignore your health needs. Pay attention to what you eat. Consume a lot of fruits, vegetables, and nuts; stay away from junk food; and resume exercising when instructed by your doctor.
  • Consider your birth control options: You cannot rely completely on breastfeeding for birth control. Oral contraceptive pills can interfere with milk production. Consider using condoms or other methods of contraception.


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Medically Reviewed on 5/18/2022
Hill, D.L. "Bottle-Feeding Basics." American Academy of Pediatrics. <>.