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How do I know when to pump?

I feed my one month old purely breast milk, but from a bottle. I pump then give it to him from a bottle. He drinks about two and a half ounces at a feeding. But when I pump I produce around five ounces every two hours.

My question is can I start pumping every four hours instead as long as I make sure I completely empty each breast every time? Will this lower my milk production?

Christine Tracy | Other Provider

Christine Tracy

Generally a mother makes more milk than her baby needs for the first 4-6 weeks. From then on, her body will adjust to the demand for breastmilk. If you desire to pump every 4 hours, including at night, that is your decision. 

You are pumping every 2 hours now, so make your transition to an every 4 hour schedule gradually (over a period of at least a week). This will give your body time to adjust and avoid milk stasis which can lead to mastitis. 

Full milk production is 25-35 ounces per baby per day. If this is what you pump over a 24-hour period no matter if you pump every 2 hours or every 4, you have a full milk supply. It is a good idea to keep tabs on how much you pump in a day so if you notice your supply dwindling, you can always increase the number of pumpings in a day and this will help your supply rebound.  
Remember, "drained breasts make milk faster" so pumping less often during the day may potentially decrease your supply, but since your baby is over 1 month and your supply is well established, you may not have an issue.

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