Amanda Glenn

Exclusive Pumping - How Does it Change Over Time?

Written by Amanda Glenn, from HTTPS://EXCLUSIVEPUMPING.COM/

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When exclusively pumping, does the pumping regimen change over time or stay the same?

When you start exclusively pumping, most lactation consultants recommend that you pump the same number of times that your baby eats, which is about 8-12 times per day. Usually, each session is about 15 minutes.

Whether or not this changes as your baby gets older is completely up to you! There is no harm is keeping this schedule up as long as you continue to exclusively pump. However, most exclusive pumpers find pumping so often to be pretty exhausting and start to drop pumping sessions around the 6-8 week mark. (Here are some sample pumping schedules by age.)

When you drop pumping sessions, what you're really doing is consolidating your pumping time - you're pumping for the same amount of time per day, but just less often. So, for example, if you are pumping 8 times a day for 15 minutes, and you want to drop down to 7 times a day, you would add about 2 minutes to each of your 7 remaining sessions.

(Why drop pumping sessions if you're still going to have to pump for the same amount of time each day? It helps you avoid the hassle of stopping what you're doing, getting hooked up to the pump, and putting your breast milk away and washing your pump parts.)

Increasing the length of your sessions will help you maintain your supply; you'll pump less often, but get more milk at each session because you'll get multiple letdowns of milk.

Middle of the Night Pumping Sessions

The other thing that changes with regard to exclusive pumping schedule over time is overnight pumping. When your baby stops waking up in the middle of the night to eat, many women drop their middle of the night pumping sessions as well. 

This makes sense, as your pumping schedule should mimic your baby's feeding schedule (and also because you need to sleep). However, some women do decide to keep a middle of the night session if milk supply is an issue for them, because prolactin levels can be higher at night.

Managing Pumping with an Older Baby

Another thing that can change your pumping regiment as your baby gets older is how you manage to get your pumping sessions in. When your baby is a newborn, you may have family members or your partner home with you at times to help hold the baby when you need to pump, or you may be able to feed your baby a bottle while you pump with a hands-free pumping bra.

Older babies like to play with tubing and are mobile, so being tied to a pump can sometimes be more challenging. Luckily, their sleeping habits tend to be more predictable, so it's easier to schedule your pumping sessions for times when they are napping. (When this doesn't work, sitting next to baby in a high chair with some finger foods and/or toys is my best strategy for dealing with this.)

Going Back to Work

Another thing that might affect your pumping regiment over time is going back to work. In the United States, many new moms have to go back to work when their babies are 12 weeks old. The good news is that exclusively pumping moms are a bit ahead of the game - if you're an exclusive pumper, you are already very familiar with a breast pump, and you know your baby will take a bottle.

However, you do need to figure out how to fit your pumping sessions in with work. Women with office jobs may have an easier time with this, especially if they can work on a laptop with a hands-free pumping bra. If pumping at work for you is easy, it might make sense to do more pumping sessions at work so that you can spend the time that you do have at home with your baby.

Other moms, like teachers, have a harder time getting breaks from work to pump. If this is true for you, you might have to be creative with your pumping schedule in order to get your pumping sessions in, maybe by concentrating your pumping sessions at home before your baby gets up and after he goes to bed.

Breastfeeding After Exclusive Pumping

A few months ago, we sent out a Call for Breastfeeding Stories.  Our desire was to flood the Internet with beautiful breastfeeding and pumping stories of triumph, overcoming challenges and struggles, and positive outcomes, regardless of the total amount of milk a mom was producing.  We are thrilled to share these stories with you, our readers, and hope that they offer support and inspiration for you, wherever you are in your breastfeeding or pumping journey. 

Thank you to all of the mothers who submitted their stories!  If after you read these memoirs you are inspired to submit your story, feel free to send it to    

This memoir is from Amanda, from


When I was pregnant with my second child, I was planning to breastfeed her. I was also really nervous about it because of my experience with my first child.

After my son was born, we struggled with nursing while we were in the hospital. Each nurse suggested that I hold him a different way, and it always worked when they were standing right there. However, after they left and I tried to nurse again on my own, I could never get him to latch. I remember being so sleep deprived from labor that I couldn't really listen to what they were telling me and have it sink in.

Additionally, the hospital had a lactation consultant, but there had a been a huge snowstorm a few days earlier, and she "hadn't been seen since the blizzard." So that form of assistance wasn't available, unfortunately.

(After my nurse told me that, I had this mental image of the lactation consultant getting lost on her way to the hospital in a sleigh or something. Hopefully, she eventually made it back.)

After three weeks of struggling and my son still not being back up to his birth weight, I ended up deciding to exclusively pump for him. I had a lot of complicated emotions around this - guilt for not trying harder to nurse, inadequacy for not being able to make nursing work, pride in myself for managing to breastfeed by pumping only. As a Type A person, I became pretty obsessed with it - how much I was pumping, how much he was eating, how much my stash was, etc. Exclusively pumping became such a big part of my identity as a new mom that I started an entire website about it. 

So, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I wanted to make sure that she got breast milk, too, just like my son did. At the same time, I knew how hard it was to exclusively pump, and I was already terrified of having two kids under two years old. Exclusively pumping with a toddler and baby seemed impossible to me, and I wasn't sure if I could manage it again.

As soon as she was born, though, it was obvious that this baby had a completely different temperament than my son. While he had screamed for his entire first hour of life outside the womb, she just cried a little and then latched on like a champ.

There were definitely some bumps in the road over the first few days - again, I struggled a bit with latch in the hospital - but we moved past them pretty quickly, and she was back up to her birth weight after a little over week.


I have such great memories of nursing my daughter while on maternity leave. Some days (instead of going to Stroller Strides or trying to run errands) I would just decide to be lazy and spend the whole day on the couch with her - snuggling, switching to the other breast from time to time, and watching entire seasons of Game of Thrones.

I ended up nursing my daughter until she was 18 months old. I don't think I had much milk left at that point, and it was just part of her bedtime routine. When I ended up needing to go on a trip without her, my husband to put her to bed, and that was the end. I was sad to be done with nursing her, but it also felt like it was time.

Being able to nurse my daughter really helped me heal from the feelings of guilt and inadequacy I had felt after not being able to with my son. I'm so grateful for both breastfeeding relationships, though, because they taught me different things - my son taught me that I could figure things out as a mom even when things didn't go the way I'd planned, while my daughter taught me the importance of being in the moment and savoring time together.