Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Pumping: Your Greatest Commitment

Pumping, pumping, pumping.  As soon as you have your preemie baby, if you are planning to feed your baby breastmilk, you will begin pumping.  It will feel like that’s all you do is pump.  Pump, pump, pump.  The nurses and OTs will tell you that you should pump for 10-15 minutes every 3 hours, and if you do it faithfully then that really IS all that you do.  Pretty much.  With the time it takes to get everything set up for pumping, to do the pumping, and then to store the milk properly, label the milk with name, date, and time, and clean the bottles, it takes at least 30 minutes, and longer if you’re not trying to hurry.  But you are supposed to schedule your pumping by when you started pumping last, so by the time you finish you only have 2 and 1/2 hours left before you have to start again.  If you’re in the NICU and trying to pack up your pumping supplies and bottles into a shoulder bag every time you finish then you probably spend time drying the supplies, too.  See what I mean about commitment?

Phew!  That made me exhausted just talking about it.  The OTs will encourage you to pump so often so that your milk supply keeps up with your baby’s needs.  If you don’t pump enough then your milk supply will decrease to fill only what you are demanding of it.  Also, I was told that a woman’s milk supply stays strong for about the first 10-14 days and then it drops to where it only supplies what you require of it.  There will no longer be excess, and it will take extra time and effort to increase your supply if you need to.

The hospital where you deliver will probably provide you with a hand pump and a few supplies, but the NICU can also give you attachments to the nice electric pumps they will have stationed around the unit in parent rooms, pumping rooms, and some of the patient rooms.  Be sure to take advantage of the up-to-date electric pumps they have in the unit, because lugging your own pump around is exhausting and the less you have to carry around the hospital with you the better.  There should be parent lockers available, though, if you do have to carry your own pump with you.

Related Posts:  OTs: My Very Best Friends, Breastfeeding – the Prerequisites

Afton Mower About Afton Mower

After Mower (UT) lost her firstborn son at 21 weeks.  Her daughter was born a year and a half later at 27 weeks.  The NICU was overwhelming and isolating and it was through those two experiences she was led to found this social hub for parents to find the support they needed. Afton also gave birth to another daughter, born two days overdue after four months of strict bedrest. She believes it is a tender experience to hold a special baby in your arms when his spirit returns to his heavenly home, a miracle to watch tiny babies survive the risks of prematurity and a blessing to hold a healthy full-term baby after months of difficulty and sacrifices.


  1. angelaphora says:

    my nicu has a pumping room and also allows you to pump near baby. This has help tremendous with increasing my supply.

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