Pumping Tips

Whether you had planned to breastfeed or not, your baby’s doctor will want you to provide breast milk for your baby.  Pumping in the NICU is challenging and even small amounts of breast milk can benefit your baby. 

  • It is better to pump more often for shorter amounts such as 15 minutes rather than to pump less frequently for a long time such as 45 minutes.
  • Pump at least 8-10 times a day.
  • Stay hydrated and drink water.
  • Allow your body to rest and recover.  Just as your baby needs time to rest, taking time to allow your body to heal will help your milk production.
  • When you can, pump with your feet up.  You may want to keep your mind busy while watching television, reading a magazine, or talking on the phone to a good friend.
  • Understand that your milk production may fluctuate depending on your baby’s condition.  Sometimes if the baby is not having a good day, your milk may be affected.
  • Try looking at pictures of your baby while pumping.

How Can I Support My Wife or Partner?

Understand that pumping is hard work emotionally as well as physically.  Your wife or partner will need to eat and drink more than usual, and she will need time in her schedule to be able to pump.  Also, remember to provide her with encouraging words such as, “Thank you for everything you are doing.”

What if I am Unable to Provide Breast Milk?

Talk to your hospital’s lactation consultant if you are concerned about your milk supply.  You are not alone and lactation consultants can help you establish and maintain your supply.  If you are too sick to pump or unable to pump for medical reasons, you may want to ask your hospital about their policy regarding donor milk.

Milk Donations

Many NICU mother graduates and mothers of full-term babies donate their breast milk to a milk bank after a very intense screening.

Lactation Consultants

Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington (
La Leche League (