Q&A: Solving Pumping Problems?

I’m having a hard time pumping — how do I get the milk to come out? What’s the best time for me to do it?
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profile picture of Carole Arsenault
Updated March 2, 2017
Illustration of breast pump.
Image: Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

The best time to pump your breasts is early in the morning. This is because a breastfeeding mother’s milk supply peaks between 1 and 5 a.m. Breastfeed baby in the morning and then wait approximately 30 to 45 minutes before you begin pumping. It’s normal not to express large amounts of milk after a feeding session. By pumping your breasts at the same time each day you’re creating a routine for your breasts and, within a few days, your milk supply will increase.

It may take a few minutes of no milk coming out before your milk finally releases. If nothing is happening after a few minutes, you can turn the suction dial up an increment higher — give yourself a full few minutes at the higher suction before turning it higher again. You can also try turning the pump off and repositioning your breast. Remember to make sure the breast shield on the pump is the correct size — if your nipple rubs against the funnel of the shield, you may need to go up one size.

Pump both breasts for approximately 7 minutes, then turn the pump off, and massage your breasts for a minute or so (massage from the armpit down toward the nipple). This basically allows the breasts to reset. Continue pumping again another 5 minutes until the flow of milk has decreased.

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