How to Get Started: Breastfeeding & Pumping Schedules

Find a schedule that works for you!

We’re living in a modern, fast-paced, frenetic, non-stop, always-on world. We’re inundated with information – especially as new parents! We know you’ve already Googled it all: the best way to feed, how long to feed, when to feed, and why to feed – it can truly be exhausting.



There are many reasons moms choose to combine breastfeeding and pumping and the choice is personal. We’ve all heard the guidelines (six months to a year) and we all know that breastfeeding is great for our children. 



As much as you can make a plan for your feeding journey, the reality is… reality. So, sometimes you choose both. If you want to breastfeed and pump milk for your baby, here’s your Willow-approved toolkit to get it done.  

The Top Reasons Moms Choose to Breastfeed and Pump

“Something we hear often is that moms want to combine breastfeeding and pumping, but getting started, setting up a schedule, and diving in head first feels like a lot when you’re already dealing with new mom stress,” says Wendy Wright, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. “The first thing to know is that there are myriad reasons why a parent might choose to do both.” Here’s a few of them:  

  1. You’re concerned about your milk supply, so you want to try pumping to increase your production.
  2. You want to have greater flexibility in your life.
  3. You’re about to return to work or other obligations and need to be away from your baby for longer periods of time.
  4. You’d like to involve a partner in feeding.

There’s an underlying medical issue that prevents exclusive breastfeeding (i.e. tongue tie or a yeast infection) 

The Set Up: What You Need to Breastfeed & Pump

To get started, you’ll need to first make sure you have the right equipment to pump and breastfeed. Obviously, breastfeeding seems a bit more straightforward – after all, the equipment is, well, attached to you! However, there are a few tools that can make it a bit more comfortable. 

Getting Started: Breastfeeding Tips and Tricks

  1. Invest in a good nursing pillow: It will help support you and your baby so that focusing on getting a latch is easier. It also frees up your hands so you can multitask (or just relax). 
  2. Use nipple cream or coconut oil: Nipple cream helps prevent discomfort and chapped nipples from the get-go between breastfeeding sessions.
  3. Have a supply of nursing tops or bras: Nursing bras provide essential easy access for breastfeeding. Finding one that works right for you will pay off over the next weeks and months. 

Getting Started: Breast Pumps & Accessories 

For the pumping portion of your breastfeeding journey, the tools that you use matter. From selecting the right type of breast pump for your needs to learning about the different accessories that can help you establish a consistent pumping routine, Willow’s got you covered.

How To Choose A Breast Pump

Ah, the breast pump. With so many options on the market, it’s important to consider what will work best for you and your lifestyle. Here are the three most common options available to you. 

  • Electric breast pumps: Electric breast pumps have been the standard for years. You’ve seen them, your friends have used them, and they’re covered by (most) insurance companies. Yet, they’re noisy, bulky, have a ton of pump parts, and require you to be connected to the wall. Talk about a let-down. 
  • Wearable breast pumps: Wearable breast pumps, like the Willow 3.0 Pump or Willow Go Pump, are reinventing the standard and expectation moms have for pumping. They’re quiet, portable, fit inside your bra, and offer you complete freedom and mobility. 
  • Manual breast pumps: Manual breast pumps require no power. Instead, you use your hand to pump and express the milk. If you only foresee yourself pumping once or twice a week, the manual breast pump may be adequate. Many women also use them to relieve engorgement or to catch milk that’s expressed from the breast not occupied by their baby while they’re nursing. 

Willow Go™ Wearable Breast Pump

Willow Go™ Wearable Breast Pump

Next-level convenience—easy to learn, use, and clean—with a 100% comfort rating from moms.

Essential Pumping and Breastfeeding Accessories

The accessories you have on hand during your pumping and breastfeeding journey also matter. Whether you’re looking to stop pesky leaks or keep your pump and liquid gold safe as you return to the office, we have the accessories to make your day a little easier.

  • Cleaning wipes: While on the go, it’s easy to wipe down your pump with a quick wipe to ensure everything stays clean and germ-free. Try Dapple Baby’s Cleaning Kit (a Willow exclusive) to keep your pump clean and functioning as good as new.
  • Breast pads: Breast pads or nursing pads protect your clothes from any leaking that may occur before or after your pumping session. Willow’s reusable breast pads make it easy to stop breastmilk leaks, while also providing a comfortable barrier for sensitive nipples.

Milk coolers: It’s true that breast milk is okay at room temperature for up to four hours. Yet, if you’re out and about without a fridge, you’ll need something to keep your milk cool for longer. Willow’s Portable Breast Milk Cooler, with a gel ice pack, helps keep breast milk cool for up to 24 hours.

Getting The Most Out of Your Supply: How to Time Your Feeding & Pumping to Maximize Your Output

The best way to move forward with breastfeeding and pumping is to create a flexible routine that will fit into your varying schedule. This way, you can ensure you’re pumping enough milk for your baby. Pumping regularly will help prevent your milk supply from dwindling when you’re away from your baby.

“Breastfeeding, breast pumping, or the combination of the two are so individual and will most likely change from month to month throughout this new motherhood journey.  The practicalities of providing breast milk look different for every mom I work with yet, we all share the same goal of nourishing our infants.  There is no right way, there is your way; please consider this guidance and incorporate only what supports your journey right now,” says Wendy. 

Breastfeeding & Pumping: Willow Sample Schedule

Remember: This is just a sample schedule, so use it as a guideline, not as a directive. You will start to get into the groove once you start!

  • 6 AM – Breastfeed
  • 8 AM – Breastfeed at “drop off” or when a caregiver arrives
  • 10 AM – Pump
  • 1 PM – Pump
  • 4 PM – Pump
  • 6 PM – Breastfeed
  • Breastfeed at bedtime
  • 10:30 PM – Pump
  • 3:00 AM Breastfeed

LC Tip: The most common guideline for feeding your baby is every 2 to 3 hours which means you’ll need to pump at this same cadence while you’re away. If you’re not working outside of your home and still wish to build a milk supply, try pumping after or during each breastfeeding session for 10-15 minutes. Stick to this schedule for a few weeks – you’ll start to see patterns and habits develop which will make it easier. 

Ask an LC: Tips for Breastfeeding & Pumping

We know that breastfeeding and pumping come with a ton of questions. And unfortunately, it seems everyone has a different answer. Allow us to give you some much-needed clarity as you start this rewarding journey.

How Soon Should I Pump After Breastfeeding?

Pumping after you breastfeed is a great way to boost your supply. There is no need to wait before pumping, pump when it is most convenient for you. Just understand that immediately after a breastfeeding session, you’ll get less from your pumping session. That’s okay, it’s the empty breast and the stimulation of the nipple that tells the breast to make more milk. It’s more important that you pump (stimulate) than time each session perfectly for the greatest output. 

How Do I Increase My Milk Supply?

It is completely normal for moms to feel concerned about milk supply while breastfeeding or pumping – and Wendy has the answers. You can read more about her suggestions for how to increase your milk supply at our blog, with helpful tips that you can try on your own at home.

Encouraging letdowns is also a common issue for breastfeeding moms during a pumping or breastfeeding session. Our Find Your Flow Feeding Kit includes Hot & Cold Breast Therapy Pads that encourage letdown when warmed, getting your feeding session off to a better start.

How Long Should I Pump and Breastfeed?

The length of a breastfeeding session will depend on your baby. Younger babies feed longer, older babies are more efficient. Some babies will latch and finish within 10 minutes and others will require up to 30 minutes or longer. You should plan to spend around the same amount of time pumping, around 15 to 30 minutes.

You’ll begin to notice when your milk flow slows after a few pumping sessions. Once this occurs, you can stop.

Can You Pump and Breastfeed at the Same Time?

Yes. It will take some practice to get this right, however. You can let your baby nurse on one side and pump the other side simultaneously. Just remember to start your baby’s next nursing session on the side they didn’t nurse from previously as a breastfeeding baby is capable of emptying the breast more than any mechanical pump.

Will Breastfeeding & Pumping Together Confuse My Baby?

Some babies may develop nipple confusion when fed by both the bottle and the breast. This happens because the bottle nipple allows milk to flow more freely with less effort from the baby. Here are some suggestions for reducing nipple confusion or a fast flow preference: 

  1. Try to delay bottle feeding until your baby has established their breastfeeding technique and pattern, which occurs around 4 weeks. If you need to start pumping to build supply before then, do so and freeze the milk.
  2. Try slow-flow nipples when using a bottle. Using Stage 1 or Newborn nipples throughout the breastfeeding journey will also help slow the flow so the baby does not develop a preference for bottles. We love Comotomo bottles for breastfed babies!
  3. Pace feeds. Whenever your baby is offered a bottle, the feeding should be paced. A bottle feeding should take the same amount of time as a breastfeeding session. Keeping the bottle horizontal and allowing the baby the opportunity to succeed on the bottle nipple in between her suck/swallow/breathe pattern will extend the feeding, avoiding flow preference with the bottle. 
  4. Try to adapt to a schedule (like the one above) to allow you to have ample breastfeeding time and ensure that your baby is given both a bottle and breast daily.

Should I Be Worried If I Don’t Produce Much Milk While Pumping?

If you are breastfeeding and pumping, you shouldn’t be concerned about not pumping much during a session, especially if you pump right after a breastfeeding session. A full milk supply for babies 0 - 6 months is considered 24 - 26 ounces per 24 hours, so that's about an ounce per hour. If you pumped or breastfed at noon and then pumped at 3 pm, expect 3 ounces total. 

If you get less, you may need to pump more frequently. Small fluctuations are normal and letting down for a pump is more challenging than letting down for your adorable little one. Remember, you know your body best. If you’re concerned about your milk production, reach out to a lactation consultant for support.

Another factor to keep in mind when breastfeeding and providing pumped milk is the portion size in bottles. Just like our bodies produce about 24 - 26 ounces per day, babies should be fed only 24 - 26 ounces per day. If you are feeding more than that it may seem like you are not pumping enough when in reality you are overfeeding. 

If you are concerned about the amount you are feeding or you just feel you cannot keep up, your lactation consultant or pediatrician can offer support.

How to Store Your Breast Milk

If you’re pumping and storing your breast milk for future use, here are some tips! 

  • Keep bag ounces low: Once you thaw your milk, you can’t refreeze it. So, keep the number of ounces in each storage bag low and aligned with how much your baby needs per feeding. We recommend 4 ounces or less.
  • Date your milk storage bags: You’ll want to use the older bags of milk first. Make it easy by labeling your storage bags with the date using a permanent marker. Then, store your milk bags with the date facing towards you in a freezer-safe container for easy grab-and-go.

Don’t combine freshly expressed milk with frozen milk: Place freshly pumped milk into the fridge to chill before placing it into a freezer bag. Only combine milk when pumped on the same day, and never add liquid milk to frozen milk to prevent premature warming. This prevents the new milk from thawing the frozen.

Portable Breastmilk Milk Cooler

Portable Breastmilk Milk Cooler

Store up to 16 oz of milk at a safe temperature for up to 24 hours with our new patent-pending Portable Breastmilk Cooler. 
It's the breastmilk chiller you'll bring everywhere.

Establish Your Pumping and Breastfeeding Routine With Willow

Willow is a quiet, wearable breast pump that is perfect for making the transition to a new breastfeeding and pumping routine. Plus, with our line of breast care products and pumping essentials, you can start this new journey knowing you and your baby are well taken care of. 

Have more questions about either pumping or breastfeeding concerns? The Willow blog has your answers.


This article was written in partnership with International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Wendy Wright, who loves working side by side with moms and babies to find that secret sauce!

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of medical professionals. It should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions or problems. Please contact your healthcare provider with questions or concerns.
Which pump is right for you?
Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

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