BHealthy Blog

Your Guide to Pumping & Storing While Breastfeeding

At Baptist Health, we know that breastfeeding offers many benefits for both you and your baby. We also recognize that there is a learning curve for both mom and baby when it comes to breastfeeding, and want to ensure you have all of the information you need to make breastfeeding as easy as possible.

In most cases, you will begin breastfeeding immediately after birth. Physicians recommend that mothers who are able to breastfeed should continue with six months of exclusive breastfeeding, then gradually introduce solid foods through 12 months, and wean whenever mom and baby are ready after 12 months.

Why Pump Breast Milk?

If you’re breastfeeding, we understand that you can’t always be there to feed your baby twenty-four hours a day. Whether you decide to pump because you’re returning to work or because it is a better fit for your lifestyle, Baptist Health has advice and resources to help you.

Moms can choose to pump for several reasons, including:

  • Having milk available when away from the baby. Through pumping, husbands, partners, family, friends and other caregivers can feed the baby. This can be very helpful when mom is working or not available
  • Baby is experiencing difficulty latching or feeding from the breast
  • To give breast milk without feeding from the breast. Some moms choose to exclusively pump to provide their baby with their breast milk

Returning to Work

We recommend that women who plan to breastfeed take as much leave from work as possible. If you’re planning to pump because you’re returning to work, we recommend that you begin pumping a few weeks in advance to create a freezer stash of milk to be used when you return to work. Once returning to work, a gradual return, possibly part-time, for a few weeks will give you more time to adjust. 

It’s important to find private areas at your workplace where you feel comfortable and can safely pump milk. Moms who return to work full time will need to pump 2-3 times during their workday to maintain a full milk supply.

How to Choose a Breast Pump

To help stimulate milk production, it is important to use a hospital-grade, double-electric pump and empty both breasts at the same time. Our lactation consultants recommend the Medela Symphony or Medela Pump In Style Advanced breast pumps. If you have a battery-operated or manual breast pump, these can be used after you have reached a full milk supply. 

A rental program is available for your needs through Baptist Health Expressly For You. You can also fill out our convenient form to order a Medela breast pump that may be covered by your insurance. We recommend first checking with your insurance provider to ensure that they will cover the cost of your breast pump. They may also provide you with a pump.

When You First Start to Pump

In the beginning, you may not be able to pump a lot of milk. As you begin to pump regularly, the amount that you pump will increase because milk supply is driven by frequent, effective removal of milk. The more you pump, the more milk your breasts will produce. It is also important to stay hydrated.

A pumping session will take 15-20 minutes ideally pumping both breasts at the same time. Full milk production is about 25-35 oz. per 24 hours.

Tips for Pumping Breast Milk:

  • Pump in the morning. The majority of new mothers get the most milk early in the day
  • Plan to pump at least 8-10 times in a 24-hour period (if exclusively pumping)
  • You can pump in-between, or immediately after, breastfeeding
  • Make sure the pump flanges are the right size. You can get fitted by appointment at Baptist Health Expressly For You

How Long Should I Pump?

In the beginning, when you are producing small amounts at each pump session, the session lasts for 10-15 minutes. Later, after your milk has “come in” abundantly, you should continue pumping past when the milk stops to flow for one to two minutes. The last droplets of milk contain the highest levels of fat, which provides the greatest calories. 

Also, by emptying the breast more completely, the body will receive an important message to make more milk for the next pump session. If the breasts do not get emptied completely or often enough, the body begins to produce less milk.

Some mothers say the milk never stops flowing while they pump. Typically, you should not pump longer than 30 minutes, even if the milk is still flowing.

What Amount of Milk Should I Expect?

It is a common concern of mothers to wonder if they are producing “enough” milk. There are many factors that can affect the amount of milk produced, particularly in the first few days after delivery. 

A slower onset of milk production does not mean that a mother will not make enough milk for her baby. The target is to be pumping 750-1,000 ml of milk each day by the end of two weeks. This is generally the amount your baby will need each day following discharge from the hospital.

How Should I Store My Milk?

Beginning with your hospital stay for delivery, you will pump milk either into bottles or bags provided by Baptist Health. It is important to label your milk with your baby’s name, date and time it was pumped. You can store all the milk from a single pump session into one container but do not add new milk to a previous collection. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer clear guidelines on milk storage for optimum safety, including storage location and temperature depending upon whether the milk is fresh, thawed from freezing, or leftover.


At Baptist Health, we want to provide you with all the resources you need to ensure that you feel ready to breastfeed. Baptist Health Expressly For You is a Medela Certified Nursing Center staffed by International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) and Registered Nurses, and is our number one recommendation for breastfeeding advice and products needed to achieve successful breastfeeding.