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Niswonger Children's Hospital

What if there was a medicine for your baby that ...

  • Helps you and your baby to bond
  • Is free
  • Strengthens your baby's immune system to help fight infection
  • Can shorten your baby's hospital stay
  • Reduces the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a potentially
    life-threatening condition involving the bowel
  • Promotes brain and eye development and develops a higher IQ
  • Meets your baby's changing nutritional needs
  • Protects against common childhood diseases such as ear infection, colds, allergies and asthma
  • Increases bone density
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes later in your baby's life

... that medicine is breast milk!!

When and How Long to Pump 

Be sure to use a hospital-grade breast pump. Ask your nurse to help you get one to take home and use after you are discharged from the hospital.

Start pumping within 6 hours after birth.

Your breasts do not know how much milk to produce; your pumping schedule will determine this. The more you pump, the more milk your breasts will produce. It is important to establish a good milk supply early on.

As your milk volume increases:  Days 1-3

  • Pump every three hours for 15 minutes. This will help your milk come in.

  • You may go one 4-hour stretch at night between pumping sessions.

Establish a pumping routine: Days 4-7

  • Your breasts will feel heavier, bigger and full as your milk comes in.
  • Pump every 2 to 3 hours to keep the breasts soft.
  • Massage the hard areas in your breasts to help release more milk.
  • To avoid engorgement, do not skip a pumping during this phase.

Days 8 and beyond

Maintain an adequate milk supply for your baby:

  • Continue pumping every 3 hours.
  • At the end of each session, continue pumping for 2 minutes after milk stops flowing.
  • You may go one 4-hour stretch at night between pumping sessions.
  • Maintain this schedule to keep your milk supply up.
  • Practice nursing by putting the baby to the breast.
  • Give baby skin-to-skin contact as often as possible. 

Collecting & Storing

Hospital will provide:

  • Syringes and/or bottles to store milk in
  • Labels for your breast milk

Mom to do:

  • Label the milk with your baby's name and the date and time you pumped, and any medications you are taking.
  • While you are still in the hospital, ask a family member or nurse to get your milk to the NICU as soon as possible.

Storage Guidelines:

Fresh breast milk is best, but your baby may not be able to get your milk right away. Your milk can be stored and given to your baby later. Breast milk can be safely stored:

  • At room temperature for 4 hours (66-78°F)
  • In a cooler with ice packs for 24 hours (59°F)
  • In a refrigerator for 48 hours (39°F)
  • In the freezer for up to 6 months; 3 months is best (0-4°F)
  • Frozen breast milk should be
    thawed in the refrigerator and
    used within 24 hours.

Pumping Volumes

Your target for milk production will vary daily as your milk comes in and as you continue to pump. Here's what you might expect in the first two weeks:  

  • Day 1 - just drops (this is very normal and not a cause for concern)
  • Day 2 - just enough colostrum to cover the bottom of the bottle
  • Day 3 - 25 to 50 milliliters per day
  • Day 5 - 50 to 100 milliliters per day
  • Day 10 - 250 to 300 milliliters per day
  • Day 14 - 500 milliliters per day

Note: 30 milliliters = 1 ounce