When To Start Pumping

When Should I Start Pumping? Advice From a Lactation Consultant

When To Start Pumping“I’ve just had my baby, and I need to build a stash. When do I start pumping?”

This is such a common concern for parents! And rightfully so – in the US our society makes us believe we won’t make enough or we must return to work soon because we don’t have paid parental leave. Whatever the reason for why you want to make a stash, every parent wants to avoid disrupting breastfeeding but doesn’t want to have their baby refuse bottles either.

So when is the “sweet spot”?

Generally speaking, if baby is healthy and there are no health concerns warranting supplementation, you should avoid bottles & pumping before 6 weeks. This is because lactation moves from endocrine controlled (hormones) to autocrine controlled (supply/demand) during this sensitive 6 week postpartum period.

If you are returning to work, the process is as follows:

  1. Begin pumping 2 weeks before returning to work
  2. Pump 1-2x/day (after morning/bedtime feeds seem to work well)
  3. Store milk in fridge and combine when same temp, if desired, before freezing – mark with oldest time
  4. Give baby 1 2-3oz bottle per day (preferably another person giving bottle and be sure they are paced bottle feeding)

Inserting some math – If you pump 2x/day for 14 days and net 2oz each day, that’s 28oz – which is a whole day’s worth of milk! (back to work pumping/amounts to leave are for another post…)

If supply=demand at the end of the 6 weeks, wouldn’t pumping be a GOOD thing? It would make more milk!

While yes, more stimulation would equal more milk, it causes oversupply. Oversupply can really interfere in a breastfeeding relationship via pain, torn/bleeding nipples, frustrating feeds, clogs, mastitis, lots of laundry (spit up from eating too quickly), and painful engorgement. Having had it – wouldn’t recommend it.

It is imparative that the first 6 weeks are spent getting down the mechanics of breastfeeding for you and your baby!

This newborn period is fraught with many growth spurts which mean lots of feeds, light on sleep, and not a lot of alone time (here’s a great graphic of what that feels like). You’re already going to be doing a lot of work – why add to it if you don’t need to?

My photographer wants me to pump and bottle feed for our newborn photos – should I do this?

Absolutely not. No photo is worth disrupting your breastfeeding relationship.

Photo Credit: Flash Photo Studios

Photo Credit: Flash Photo Studios


If baby is laying on their back and given a bottle – it’s a choking hazard. Not only that, but many times thisbaby will end up overeating because they ate too quickly – meaning spit up city which your photographer will have to edit out later.


Any professional photographer will absolutely break for you to breastfeed your baby!

Newborn shoots are long by nature because of the work that goes into it. Newborn photographers are patient! This is exactly why they will be patient with you and let you break to feed your little one.

If you get preparation information from your photographer and they encourage pumping/bottle feeding, please send them this post.
If they still discourage breastfeeding – hire another photographer.

There’s absolutely no reason you can’t have your adorable baby photos and feed them too.

Photo Credit: Flash Photo Studios

Photo Credit: Flash Photo Studios

Until next time, be well!


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