Why not have a schedule?

Here are some problems with pump schedules:

  1. Schedules can be unrealistic A 2 or 3-hour pump schedule (often required in the first few weeks to establish supply) can be tough to actually do. Many people find that the continuous pumping, feeding, settling, cleaning, and sleeping, especially without support, is too hard to sustain. 
  2. Schedules can stress you out Schedules can be rigid, and you can find yourself in a mental pump spiral (we made that term up) if you miss a pump, or don’t keep to time. Often if you’re on a schedule, you’re also logging the time, the volume for each breast, type of milk you fed the baby (expressed milk, supplement, milk directly from breast). For some people, this structure brings comfort, and it can be good to see numbers start to look the way you want. For others, this structure just introduces more stress, especially if you’re trending away from your goal.
  3. Babies don’t follow schedules Babies cluster-feed, have growth spurts and go through changes in their feeding patterns. This article from Emma Pickett IBCLC for UNICEF, talks you through all the reasons why schedules aren’t great to follow for breastfeeding a baby directly. It follows that pumping schedules may not be great to follow either.

If a schedule is not working for you, then you could simply pump when your baby gets hungry or when you’re feeding them. If you can stay one or two feeds ahead, you will have a bottle available of previously pumped milk to give them, and you can pump the next bottle while they’re feeding.

This method is much easier if you have help, so that someone else feeds your baby while you pump.