Breast Pumping Schedule


I was fortunate enough to get a full four months of (Paid) maternity leave with my first baby. That’s almost unheard of in the US.

I felt comfortable about breastfeeding by that point. 

I felt like we had hit our stride and were killing it.

But as my return date to work approached, I become more and more uncertain about how to make pumping and working a success. 

I had a very stressful job that required long hours. How was I supposed to find the time to pump?

I didn’t pump a lot during my maternity leave (only when I need to try and build a freezer stash of milk) so I wasn’t all that comfortable using my pump.

I also had no idea how much I needed to pump in order to keep up with my baby’s demand while I was away from him.

When do you pump? How long do you pump? How the heck do you find the time?! What does a breast pumping schedule look like?

If you are reading this right now, and you feel like I’m describing your life, then this article is for you.

I am writing this for all the moms who are panicking like I was before returning to work (or who are going to be exclusively pumping).

It took a lot of trial and error, but I found a schedule that worked for us so I am sharing that with you!

Before jumping into the sample breast pumping schedule, let me share a few quick tips and reading recommendations with you.

  1. Read this article on Pumping Basics to understand supply and demand and how pumping works.
  2. DO NOT skip pumping sessions. This is just going to set you up for low milk supply.
  3. If you do miss a pumping session, add another one at some point in the day.
  4. It is best to Pump for at least 20 minutes if you can.
  5. Read my Tips for Pumping at Work Article to get more timesaving tips to make pumping at work faster and easier.
  6. Get educated on Reverse Cycling. It is common for a breastfed baby to wait for mom for their feedings.


Sample Breast Pumping Schedule

8-Hour Shift Sample Breast Pumping Schedule

working-and-breastfeeding5:30 am – Wake up & Get ready for the day & Pump

Get Ready. Nurse baby once she wakes, gather daycare items, 20-30 minutes before leaving the house- pump (even if you just nursed).

7 am – Leave for work

7:30 am – Drop baby off at daycare

(optional to add another nursing session here or pump) Click here to read about Pumping and Driving.

8 am – Arrive at work

10 am – Pump during morning break

12:30 pm – Pump during lunch break

It’s best to pack a lunch so you can eat while pumping.

3:30 pm – Pump during afternoon break

5 pm – Leave work and head to daycare to pick up baby

5:30 pm  – Pick up baby

Nurse baby before you leave (often times you can discuss with your provider to wait for you to feed the baby so they don’t feed her right before you arrive).

If you are going to be delayed for some reason, you should call to advise them to feed the baby.

If they do feed your baby, then you would need to pump to replace that feeding.)

6 pm – Arrive home, have dinner, follow bedtime routine for baby

7:30 pm – Nurse baby and put to bed

8:30 pm – Get all daycare items ready for the next day, wash pump parts

9:30 pm – Pump before Bed

Pump before going to bed or if the baby is still waking at night you can wait for baby to wake to feed her.

12-Hour Shift Sample Breast Pumping Schedule

sample-breast-pumping-scheduleA common concern from moms who work 12-hours shifts is how and when do I pump?

This can be compound by the fact that positions commonly associated with 12-hour shifts, like nurses, are not covered by the ACA for protection for breastfeeding mothers.

Click here to read who is covered by the ACA!

So how can you keep your supply up while working 12-hour shifts?

What does a typical day look like? Try this sample schedule that can be used for both day and nighttime shifts!

4:30 am – Wake up & Get ready for the day & Pump

Wake up, pump first thing for 15 mins, Get ready for the day.

If taking your baby to daycare, get baby ready and gather daycare items (bottles etc).

Nurse your baby before leaving.

6:00 am – Leave for work

6:30 am – Pump while driving/commuting. 

Click here to read about Pumping and Driving.

7 am – Start work shift

10 am – Pump during morning break 

1 pm – Pump during lunch break

(It’s best to pack a lunch so you can eat while pumping)

5 pm – Pump during afternoon break

7 pm – Leave work and head to daycare to pick up baby – Pump While Driving

7:30 pm  – Pick up baby

8 pm – Arrive home, have dinner, follow bedtime routine for baby

8:30 pm – Nurse baby and put to bed

9 pm – Get all daycare items ready for the next day, wash pump parts

9:30 pm – Pump

Pump before going to bed or if the baby is still waking at night you can wait for baby to wake to feed her.

**Note: If you are still struggling to maintain a supply, one tip is to set an alarm during the night to pump. This extra session can help a lot. 

Another way to store those extra ounces if you work 12-hour shifts is to be sure you are getting 2-3 pumping sessions in on your days off. Read this article on how to build a freezer stash to see how to accomplish that!

Tips for Making Pumping Faster and Easier:

Not all mothers are blessed to have a job where they can take breaks at their leisure or have unlimited time to pump.

Ok, none of us have that!

So here are some quick tips to help make pumping faster and easier whether you work 12 hours, 8 hours or just every now and again:

1 – Invest in a Strong, Double Electric Pump


Spectra S1 Breast Pump

Hospital Grade pumps are best as they pull down more milk faster but even if you don’t go the hospital grade route, make sure you get a double electric. 

You will pump more milk and have more letdowns when double pumping.

I suggest you look into the Spectra S1 or Spectra S2 which are both affordable and powerful hospital grade pumps! Perfect for working moms.

To see more Breast Pump Reviews – Click Here!

2 – On Limited Breaks, Pump for Only 10 Minutes

Typically you should try and pump for 15 minutes or more (20  is ideal) but on a 10 to 15-minute break, that may not be possible.

So try to get at least 10 minutes of pumping in. It is difficult to achieve multiple letdowns in less time than that which equals less milk pumped.

3 – Have Multiple Pump Parts on Hand

 I would suggest you have 4-5 sets of pump attachments (breast shields, valves, membranes) so you can quickly pump and throw them in a bag to take home and wash.

You can be in and out of a pumping session in less than 15 mins.

4 – Store Pump Parts in the Refrigerator

Another option for pump parts is to store them in a clean, sterile bag and put them in a refrigerator after using them. 

Being refrigerated keeps the milk on them fresh and allows them to be reused without washing them after each pumping session that day. (You do need to wash them at the end of the day, however, and sterilize them periodically) 

So if you have limited parts, this might be an option.

Sarah Wells makes an amazing Wet Bag to compliment her Pump Bag.

This article features a list of patterns that she offers. These are amazing if you want a wet bag to store your parts in!

5 – Have Pump Accessories All Set-Up


Milk Genie Assembled

This will work best if you have multiple attachments.

Have the milk collection bottles or all-in-one collection bag already attached to the tubing so you just connect the breast shields to your breasts and pump away! No time wasted!

6 – Get a Really Good Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Don’t fuss with having to hold the breast shields in place.

Do yourself a favor and invest in a good pumping bra. It is worth it!

I highly recommend the Clip and Pump. You can wear it with any nursing bra. It clips right in and is super easy and quick to put on. 

If you don’t wear nursing bras while working, my next choice would be the Simple Wishes hands-free bustier. 

Both of those hands-free pumping bras are amazing and will make your pumping life 100 times easier!

7 – Find and Take a Good Lactation Supplement

Herbs can be a huge help in maintaining your milk supply

Some of the best are Fenugreek and Goat’s Rue. Both are very powerful in helping increase your milk supply.

Motherlove makes a great supplement, which in my opinion works amazingly well.

Click here to read about Motherlove More Milk Special Blend.

There are also lactation teas, cookies, and smoothies that you can make/buy to add to your daily routine. If you are looking for a quick boost, this is a good place to start!

Have some time-saving tips for pumping? Share them here by leaving a comment!

Related Articles – 


Read: Need Parts or Accessories for your Pump? Click Here to Find Everything You Need!

sarah wells-annie-breast-pump-bag

Read: Find Out Why All Moms Need This Sarah Wells Pumping Bag!


Read: 8 Tips for Pumping at Work – Make Working and Breastfeeding a Success!









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  1. Jen says:

    It was great to read your article on pumping schedules! As a momma who pumps at work, it’s so nice to read other people’s experiences. I’m curious about the Motherslove supplement, for my next little one I’ll have to give it a try! Fenugreek made my little one too gassy, but I wish it would have worked for me.

    • Heather Grace says:

      Hi! I appreciate the feedback and I agree, it is so helpful to hear what other moms do at work. I have learned a lot by getting tips from other working moms. I really like the Motherlove supplement! I have heard other moms complain about Fenugreek making them gassy as well. Perhaps a little Fennel tea will counteract that but that is not a fun or pleasant side effect! I never found straight Fenugreek to work for me. I always did better with a blend like Motherlove. Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Lena says:

    Very informative article especially for working moms! Having the right schedule is necessary not only with keep breastfeeding for longer but with organizing your day to lessen the stress. I think many women quit breastfeeding because either they couldn’t find time at work or didn’t have a good schedule. I love the suggestion for the breast pump, and I agree that it’s better to invest in a good pump as this would make it much easier and pleasant e. I was never a fan of manual pumps:)

    • Heather Grace says:

      I think finding the time and having the proper environment is a huge factor in being successful at breastfeeding while working. I was never a fan of manual pumps either and would rather spend the money for a quality double electric! So worth it! Thank you for stopping by!

  3. RenO says:

    Hi! Thank you for your thorough article on pumping schedule! This will give me a lot of benefits sometimes when I have kids, children. All those things seem really complicated tough. And taking care of your baby along with working seems super complicated! Thank you for sharing! This article really gives me some nice information.

    • Heather Grace says:

      Working when you have a small child is a challenge! I will say though that once you get into a routine, it become second nature. The first few weeks after I returned to work with my first baby were a learning experience but once we got the hang of it, it was just the way things were. We didn’t miss a beat!

  4. tatihden says:

    You have suggested a good schedule for pumping. This schedule will work if mom has all those breaks when at work. Some jobs offer extra breaks to nursing moms but others do not.
    I had a hard time at work because I only had two breaks, one of which was only 15 minutes.
    Using and electric pump can be helpful along with a pumping bra since you can eat while you pump.
    I like what your site is all about.

    • Heather Grace says:

      It can be so difficult when you only get short breaks. Thankfully now the ACA has amended the labor laws concerning breastfeeding mothers and as long as you are covered under the ACA, then you are entiteled to time specifically to pump. Our Working and Pump page has more info on what the law says and what our rights are as breastfeeding employees. Hope that helps!

  5. Ben Bristow says:

    Your website is amazing. My wife would have loved it before we had a baby. So much information. Seems to cover a lot of issues associated with breast feeding. Knowing about all of the problems that could arise when pumping or breast feeding can be a big help when you are ready to give in and quit.

    • Heather Grace says:

      Information can be powerful that is for sure! I know many mothers who quit breastfeeding because of an issue and if they had been equipped with the right information, it may have made a difference. Thank you for your comment!

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