Try to do this around the time when you seem to have the most milk.
For many women, this is in the morning. Perhaps your breasts feel fuller or heavier in the morning, or baby only feeds from one breast rather than their typical two. You are more likely to get a higher yield if you pump at this time than if you pump at a time when your breasts feel more empty after breastfeeding, such as in the evening.
Pump within about 15 minutes of finishing breastfeeding. You don’t want to wait too much longer than 15 minutes before you pump because you will start to cut into the milk that is refilling for your baby’s next breastfeeding.
Don’t worry about how much you get out. You may get one ounce total or four ounces total or some other amount; that means nothing about how much your baby is getting to eat from the breast and has everything to do with how much is left over when baby is done. Actually, it makes sense that you would get very little out when pumping because your body isn’t used to making milk for the pump; it is used to making milk for the baby!
Your baby will need a two to three ounce bottle to replace a missed breastfeeding session, so don’t be surprised if you have to pump for a few days to get that amount. After pumping for a few days, you will notice an increase in the amount you are pumping out. That is because you increased the demand on your body and it takes about three to five days for your body to respond by increasing supply. (Look out! The first day you don’t feel like pumping, you may become uncomfortably full, since your body was expecting the pump).
So, how do we make the most out of this lovely three- to four-hour block of freedom you just pumped for yourself? I know you don’t want to bring that pump with you on a date and you don’t want to wake up to pump in the middle of the night. Don’t! Here’s how this works.
In 24 hours: Number of baby feedings (breast or bottle) must equal the number of total breast stimulations (breastfeeding or pumping)
But, those feedings & stimulations don’t need to be at the same time! Only rule? Try not to go longer than about five to six hours without pumping if baby is eating during that time. That means, don’t skip more than one breastfeeding without pumping.
Note: If baby is sleeping longer stretches at night, you should be sleeping those stretches, too. If your boobs wake you up before the baby, just pump to take the edge off so you can go back to sleep. Your boobs need to learn not to make so much at night if baby isn’t drinking it. (Don’t worry, that milk will move over to daytime.)