1. How often should I pump?
How often you should pump depends on whether you're also directly breastfeeding your baby. If you're feeding throughout the night, you may not need to pump at all. However, if you're exclusively expressing or if your baby isn't breastfeeding at night but you want to maintain your milk supply, it's important that you plan on breast pumping at night. In those early days you should pump every 3-5 hours until your milk supply is well established (usually around 10 weeks postpartum). Once that happens, you can try decreasing frequency of pumping sessions, but for now you should plan on pumping every 3-5 hours. So, how often should you pump at night? If you're pumping every 3-5 hours, you should plan on breast pumping 1-2 times each night.
How often should you breast pump at night? Plan on pumping one or two times each night.
2. Breast pump before bed and after you wake upIf you're pumping every 3-5 hours, you can actually time it so you only have to wake up one time during the night - that is, if baby doesn't wake up either! Try pumping right before you go to bed, then set an alarm for 3-5 hours later. After you're done pumping, set an alarm for another 3-5 hours and pump as soon as you wake up. Pumping only once means there's less fuss to deal with while pumping at night - and more time to focus on sleeping :)
3. Plug your pump in before you go to bed
Getting up to pump at night is never fun, but it's essential especially in the first 10 weeks or so as you're establishing your milk supply. You can make pumping at night easier by making sure your breast pump is plugged in before you go to bed. You don't want to have to stumble around in the dark to plug in your pump! If your breast pump has a rechargeable battery, make sure it's fully charged before you go to bed. If not - plug it into mains before going to bed.
4. Make sure your pump parts are washed and ready to goWhen pumping at night, make sure you've washed your pump parts and allowed for plenty of time for them to air dry. You don't want to wake up in the middle of the night to find you have to clean breast pump parts! Even better if you can assemble your breast pump collection kits before going to bed. If not, when you wash your breast pump parts, leave them out to air dry - they should be dry by the time you wake up to pump.
5. Setup your breast pumping station
Make sure you set up your breast pumping station with everything you need for pumping at night. Be sure to include your milk collection kits, any spare bottles or pumping parts you might need, a reading lamp or night light (unless your breast pump has a night light), snacks, water, towels, and even a blanket in case its cooler at night. Make sure you have everything you need to be comfortable while breast pumping at night. Plug in your pump ahead of time, and even set it up so your phone charger is already plugged in in case you run low on batteries.
To make things easier for breast pumping at night, try to set up your breast pumping station near your bed, maybe in the same room or just out the door. This shortens the trip and prevents you from having to worry about dressing for another part of the house that might be cold. The less you have to worry about while breast pumping at night, the better. Some mamas setup their breast pumping station right on their night stand so they can pump without having to leave the bed.
6. Prepare snacks and water for breast pumping at nightBefore you go to bed, set up your pumping station with a couple of snacks and a water bottle. This will make breast pumping at night all the more easier as you'll have everything you need ready to go and waiting for you. The less you have to worry about in the middle of the night, the better.
7. Label breastmilk storage bags ahead of time
If you normally transfer your milk into a storage container, like breastmilk storage bags that go into the freezer, consider labeling them with the date and time ahead of time. That way they're ready to go when you're done pumping at night, meaning you can get back to bed faster.
8. Set alarms for pumping at night ahead of timeIf your schedule looks the same each day, consider setting alarms on your phone or calendar ahead of time. You can even set daytime alarms to remind you to pump and keep you on schedule. We don't recommend watching the clock over zealously, but having reminders chiming on your phone can help you keep track of time without actually having to watch the clock. Anything you can automate like this is one less thing to worry about when you're pumping at night.
9. Have a bathrobe and slippers within reach
If you're getting in and out of bed throughout the night, whether breast pumping or just to check on the baby, having a bathrobe and slippers handy by your night stand can make things more comfortable for you - especially if you live in a cooler climate where it gets colder at night, making leaving the warmth of the bed even more awful.
To make breast pumping at night easier, focus on doing anything that will improve your comfort as well as anything you can do ahead of time or automate (or have someone else do for you). The key to successful breast pumping at night is making the process as simple as possible.
What are your tips for breast pumping at night? Tell us in the comments below!