How to Create a Pumping Schedule for Your NICU Baby

By on November 7, 2023

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When you’re already dealing with the emotional and logistical challenges of having a baby in the NICU, finding the time and energy to pump can feel overwhelming. But a regulated pumping schedule can make a world of difference for your precious preemie. Not only does it help maintain your milk supply, but it also ensures that your baby receives the nutrients they need for growth and development.

Today’s post includes tips to help you create a pumping schedule that syncs with your little warrior’s needs.

Why a Pumping Schedule is Essential for NICU Moms

A regulated pumping schedule is critical for stimulating adequate milk production. The more consistently you pump, the more likely you are to produce enough milk for your NICU baby.

How Often Should You Pump for a NICU Baby?

Experts recommend pumping every 2-3 hours to mimic your baby’s natural feeding cycle. If you’re working or away from the hospital, try to maintain this pumping schedule. Be sure to store your expressed breast milk safely until you can get it to the NICU.

Coordinate Pumping with NICU Visits

If possible, aim to pump while visiting the NICU. The sights and sounds of your baby can stimulate milk production and improve pumping outcomes. If you need a place to store your pumped breast milk, ask the NICU staff if they can assist you. Not all NICUs have room for extra breast milk, so consider bringing your own portable cooler like The Cool Commuter.

Address Nighttime Pumping Challenges

Try your best to maintain at least one nighttime pumping session, even if it feels exhausting. Nighttime pumping is essential to keeping your milk supply up, and the hormones produced overnight can enhance the quality of your milk. One Milk Stork mama said that she used her Cool Commuter as bedside storage to save herself a midnight walk to the refrigerator after her nighttime pumping session!

Using Technology to Track Your Pumping Schedule

There are several apps designed to help you track your pumping sessions, ounces of breast milk pumped, and other details. Use these insights to empower your pumping journey and figure out the best pumping routine for you.

Consulting NICU Lactation Experts for Personalized Plans

Before setting a firm schedule, or if you’re struggling with pumping in any way, consult with NICU lactation experts to tailor a pumping plan that suits both you and your baby’s unique needs. You might want to try getting a nutritional analysis of your breast milk like one NICU mama did for her own feeding journey.

The Benefits of a Synced Pumping Schedule

We know it’s hard, mama. Pumping breast milk can feel like a daunting for anyone, let alone someone in the throes of the NICU journey. Just remember that creating a pumping schedule aligned with your NICU baby’s needs offers numerous benefits. It ensures a steady milk supply and a consistent source of nutrition for your baby. And most importantly: It doesn’t have to be perfect! Every drop counts, and remember that you’re doing the best that you can for your baby.

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