How Often to Pump at Work: What Happens when you can’t pump every three hours

If you pump or breastfeed every 3 hours starting at midnight, you will need to pump at 3:00 a.m. 6:00 a.m. 9:00 a.m. noon 3:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. sticking to that schedule as a working mom with a baby is tough. That would mean feeding or pumping eight times a day.So what happens when you can’t meet that mark?.

Incorporating pumping into your work routine

Depending on your work schedule you would need to pump two to three times while at the office. Typical pumping times would be when you first arrive at work, around lunch time, and at the end of the day before you leave.

If you have been pumping every 3 hours prior to returning to work, and you go longer than 3hrs between pumping you may become full and uncomfortable.

One pumping mama gave me some advice. She said frequency is more important than duration. So if you were planning to pump for 15 minutes but can only pump for 5 minutes, that is better than completely skipping the pumping session.

also if you need to pump a little sooner to accommodate a meeting or other work activity, that is better than skipping the pumping session altogether.

If there are other mamas who are pumping you all maybe trying to pump around the same time. It can be difficult coordinating pumping schedules. At my office there were a few other mothers who were pumping and some were not comfortable with sharing the space.

Trying to manage a pumping schedule became a challenge. I had meetings to attend, and needed more flexibility with pumping. I eventually found an empty office and used that if the pumping room was not available.

You can keep breastfeeding even if you stop pumping

I truly enjoyed breastfeeding my son. I breastfed him until he was 2 years old. I did not like pumping, it made me miss my son. It was getting stressful trying to pump frequently at work.

If you don’t pump every 3 hours, your supply may decrease. However, this does not mean you have to stop breastfeeding your baby. Breastfeeding is not an all or nothing situation. If you are finding it difficult to pump every 3 hours at work, you can supplement with formula.

If you decide to stop pumping but continue breastfeeding your baby, you should drop the pumping sessions gradually. This will prevent you from producing too much milk and becoming uncomfortable.

If pumping is becoming cumbersome, you can breastfeed your baby while you’re together. Supplement with formula when they are with a different caregiver.

I was finding difficult to pump every 3 hours at work. Eventually I stopped sticking to a rigorous pumping schedule at work. I would pump what I could when I could. The amount of milk I pumped at work definitely decrease, but my son was still satisfied when I nursed him at home.

I was still able to nurse my baby before and after work and all day on the weekends.

Solid foods and sleeping through the night

I did not pump in the middle of the night. I was far too exhausted to wake up in the middle of the night just to pump. If my son woke up to nurse I fed him and put him back to sleep, but I simply did not have the energy to pump and store milk in the middle of the night.

Once your baby starts to eat solids they will gradually nurse less often. What’s your baby starts solids you may find that you only need to pump once or twice at work.

Mimi D.

Mimi D is the creator of Dream Plan Smile. An NYC native, she is a wife and mom with a passion for crafting. She holds a Bachelor's in Engineering and a Master's in Project Management. In her current role as a working wife and mom, she is getting a crash course in budgeting, planning, & organization.

Recent Posts