How soon after my baby is born can I start pumping? Breastfeeding

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Breast pump
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You may already have a breast pump but you might not want to use it right after after baby's born. Here's what experts and moms say about when to start pumping.

It Depends

"When you have a newborn, you want the baby to be on the breast as much as possible. It's good for bonding and helps mom's milk come in. So for the first few days, if you have the luxury of having your baby with you, there's no need to pump. But one of the reasons to pump in the first few days would be if the baby goes to the NICU; then you'd want to pump to stimulate the milk to come in at times you can't have the baby on your breast. This will stimulate your nipples and eventually cause a...

"When you have a newborn, you want the baby to be on the breast as much as possible. It's good for bonding and helps mom's milk come in. So for the first few days, if you have the luxury of having your baby with you, there's no need to pump. But one of the reasons to pump in the first few days would be if the baby goes to the NICU; then you'd want to pump to stimulate the milk to come in at times you can't have the baby on your breast. This will stimulate your nipples and eventually cause a whole cascade of milk. At home, some moms get really nervous about the baby getting enough milk and like to pump to try to see how much the baby is getting. Ideally I would prefer they let the pediatrician worry about how much the baby's getting. Come into the office to have the baby weighed, and watch how many wet diapers there are. In the first week, baby should pee as many times in a 24-hour period as days old they are. After that, they should be making six to eight wet diapers a day." -- Lauren Levine, MD, pediatrician at ColumbiaDoctors and assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY

Immediately -- but You Probably Won't Need To

"You can start pumping immediately -- but in the first couple of days, you may have more luck with hand expressing. Some people start hand expressing in the last few weeks while still pregnant if there is risk that the baby may need extra milk -- for example, when there has been breast surgery or the mom has gestational diabetes. I do caution that typically there is no reason to start pumping right away unless the baby needs to be supplemented or if the mom and baby are separated." -- Leigh Anne O'Connor, IBCLC, lactation consultant in private practice, New York, NY

Wait Two Weeks

"I started breastfeeding the day my daughter was born. I began pumping after two weeks, when we'd established a good breastfeeding relationship."

Prep for Going Back to Work

"If you are going to school or work, I recommend pumping once every morning, working or not, during or after the first morning feeding. When the mother is away, she should pump every two to three hours."

Early, If Baby's in the NICU

"I had to pump pretty early because my baby was taken to the NICU and we had to use a syringe at first to feed her."

You Can Wait a Few Months

"I started breastfeeding instantly and started pumping after 3 months because there really was no need. We were always together before then."

Maybe Never

"Pumping never really worked for me. Fortunately I was able to feed all of my breastfed babies straight from the tap on demand."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.