Young mother expressing breast milk with a breast pump.
Petri Oeschger

How Long It Takes To Increase Milk Supply By Pumping Exclusively

by Mishal Ali Zafar
Originally Published: 

I'm sure that every breastfeeding mom wishes their body came with an instruction manual because breastfeeding often leads to an abundance of questions. One of the most common challenges breastfeeding moms face is increasing their milk supply to make sure they're providing enough nutrition to their babies. If you are pumping, and are looking to gain some momentum on your milk supply, you may want to know how long you will have to wait. How long does it take to increase milk supply when exclusively pumping?

Romper spoke with Tori Sproat, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), who says that routine plays a key part in increasing your milk supply if you are exclusively pumping. "If you're pumping the same time every day, making sure your pump parts are up to date and well cared for, and everything fits right, you'll see increases within three days of a regular routine," she says. She recommends wearing a blanket that smells like your baby while you pump to trick your brain into thinking you are breastfeeding. (This will also help you avoid watching yourself pump so you don't become stressed by the amount of milk you're seeing.)

“Parents who are exclusively pumping should aim to pump around 8-12 times per day for about 20 minutes each pumping session,” Krystal Nicole Duhaney, RN, IBCLC, tells Romper. “Pumping routinely and effectively is vital to maintaining your milk supply. It can be helpful to pump whenever your baby eats or shows signs of hunger. This allows you to adjust your pumping schedule to match your baby eating patterns, especially during periods of cluster-feeding.”


It can also be helpful to get in the habit of doing other things that can support your their milk supply, like drinking plenty of water, eating protein every two hours, and incorporating galactagogues. And while it’s difficult to avoid stress all together, you may find it helpful to have some stress-relieving practices in place, like breathwork, yoga, napping, or whatever works for you. “Stress is the [number one] killer of breastmilk supply, especially in the first few weeks after delivery," reported UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Between lack of sleep and adjusting to the baby’s schedule, rising levels of certain hormones such as cortisol can dramatically reduce your milk supply." Other ways to help promote milk flow while pumping are meditation, relaxation, and listening to music, Duhaney tells Romper, adding that studies show listening to guided imagery audio can increase milk supply.

It can take patience and persistence, but if you are exclusively pumping while following a power pumping routine and using supportive measures, you may see your milk supply increase within a few days.


Krystal Nicole Duhaney, RN, IBCLC, and founder of Milky Mama

Tori Sproat, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Tiny Tummies Lactation Services

Studies Referenced:

Feher S, et al. (1989). Increasing Breast Milk Production for Premature Infants With A Relaxation/Imagery Audiotape. Pediatrics.

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