Figuring out exactly when to pump and when to nurse can be pretty complicated for a new mom. After I had Olive, I didn’t want to pump too close to a feeding to make sure that I’d have enough milk when she nursed, so I’d either pump only on one side, or pump both sides after she nursed. I also wanted to pump as often as possible to increase my milk supply, so it was a lot of trial and error just figuring out when I could squeeze in a pumping session. The frequency with which you pump is also going to vary depending on how much milk you produce, how many bottles you need per day, how much of a stash you’re trying to build up, how much time you have, etc.

Bottle feeding daily is important for us because Olive is not a fan of the bottle, so even going a couple of days without giving her one is asking for a screaming fight. Now that I’ve been in a set pumping, freezing, and defrosting rhythm for awhile, I thought I’d share what works for me.


My milk eventually takes on a blue tint when it’s been sitting there for a little while.

Pumping Schedule

I pump 4-5 times a day at approximately 9am, 12pm, 3pm, and 5:30pm. Depending on whether or not Olive wakes up after she goes down for the night at 6:30pm and I need to nurse her, I might pump once more around 11pm. I currently produce enough for Olive to have 4, 4oz bottles each day, which is less than what I produced with Charlie, but it’s probably because I’m more tired this time around.

Lately Olive has increased her intake to 5oz/bottle, so I’ve had to dip into my small frozen stash. Starting from tomorrow I need to add an additional pumping session to produce 20 oz/day, which means I’ll now be pumping 5-6 times a day at 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5:30pm, and possibly again around 11pm. It’s a pretty grueling schedule and I can’t wait to quit!

In order to save time on washing parts, I store my pump parts in the fridge after I use them, and reuse the same set throughout the entire day. If I didn’t do that, I’d have to have multiple pumping sets or wash them after each use. Reusing one set definitely saves me a lot of time.

Nursing

Any time Olive wakes up between 6:30pm – 8:00am, I’ll usually nurse her one side, and rarely on both sides. Her sleep is completely unpredictable lately, and she can wake up twice, or she can wake up 10 times. When she starts sleeping through the night, I’ll definitely have to pump just before bedtime, but I’m not going to wake up in the middle of the night to pump!

From Friday night to Monday morning, I nurse exclusively and don’t pump at all. Even though I could probably squeeze a session in after Olive goes to sleep, I’m so wiped from being with two kids all day, the last thing I want to do is pump.

Freezing and Defrosting Milk

Every Friday evening, I freeze any leftover milk from that day. Come Sunday evening, I defrost two bags of my oldest frozen milk in the fridge for the next day. I do this because I want to cycle through my frozen milk before it gets too old. Breastmilk also gets fattier as your baby gets older to meet their nutritional needs, so I want to use up my oldest, least nutritionally dense milk first. Luckily I don’t have a problem with excess lipase, which can cause your milk to take on a soapy taste, so I’ve never had a problem with Charlie or Olive drinking defrosted milk. But because my defrosted milk is usually 3 months old, I mix it with half fresh milk so that Olive is still getting some of my current day nutritionally appropriate milk in a bottle.

As of now, I have exactly 18 bags of frozen milk in 4 oz portions, or 72 oz total. It was so much work just to build up that much, one bag at a time, but it’d only take Olive 3 days to go through it all if she were exclusively bottle fed!

How often do you pump, and how do you cycle through your frozen milk?