Pumping Packet 2017-08-08T14:18:19-06:00

Pumping Packet For mothers who are breast pumping for your baby in the NICU:

Pump 8-to-12 times in 24 hours for 15 minutes each time during the colostrum phase. Once your milk comes in, pump 2 minutes after the last drop of milk falls, but no longer than 30 minutes.

For Example:

7 a.m.

9 a.m.

11 a.m.

2 p.m.

5 p.m.

8 p.m.

11 p.m.

Sleep for 5 hours 4 a.m.

Guidelines for Pumping Mothers

Collection of Breastmilk

  • As you begin collecting your milk, the most important point to remember is that anything that comes in contact with your breast or your milk should be very clean.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water and scrub under your fingernails before each collection.
  • Rinse the nipple, then the breast with water and dry with a clean cloth or paper towels. Routine use of nipple ointments is not needed.
  • You should pump every 2-3 hours (8-12 times per day). Double pumping is the best method of pumping (both breasts at one time). Pump until your breasts are empty. To keep your milk supply, pumping must be done on a consistent basis. When you don’t, milk production tends to drop off at 4-6 weeks, and it can be hard to start again.
  • After pumping your milk, label the bottle using a preprinted label, (ask the nurse or the secretary for a supply of labels) and record the date and time of the pumping on the label.
  • Thoroughly wash the milk collection system following each use. Take apart the collection pieces and rinse them in cold water. Next, wash them in hot soapy water using dishwashing detergent. After that, rinse them in hot water. It is not necessary to clean breast pump tubing unless it comes in contact with breast milk. If you wash your tubing, make sure you hang it to air dry before attaching it to your breast pump. If small water drops (condensation) appear in the tubing after you have pumped, turn the pump on for a few minutes until the tubing is dry.
  • Once a day, your equipment will need to be sterilized. While you are in the hospital, you may use the Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bag. These are microwave steam bags designed to sterilize pump equipment. Be sure to follow the directions printed on the bag and handle it carefully to keep from burning yourself. After you are discharged, you may continue to use the steam bags or you can sterilize your pump equipment using boiling water. To do this, fill a pan with water and heat it to a boil. After the water begins to boil, remove the pan from the heat and put your pump pieces in the water. After 20 minutes, remove the pump pieces from the water and allow them to air dry. You may also wash your pump parts on the top rack of an automatic dishwasher. Consult our instruction manual to make sure pieces are dishwasher safe before you put them in the dishwasher.
  • Additional bottles, labels, and other breastfeeding supplies can be obtained from your nurse upon request. Charges for supplies are applied to your infant’s account for insurance and Medicaid coverage.

Storage of Breastmilk

  • Bottles and lids for the collection and storage of breastmilk can be obtained from the nurse. Please use these bottles as they provide the best protection of the milk during storage and lower the risk of milk contamination. Make sure you take enough bottles and labels with you when you leave the hospital. Ask your baby’s nurse for these. If you run out of bottles or labels before you return to the hospital, you may use breast milk storage bottles or bags you have purchased and use a marker to write on the bottle or bag.
  • When pumping at home (if your milk is not used within 4 hours), refrigerate your milk so you can get it to the NICU within 48 hours; otherwise freeze the milk. Store at the back of the refrigerator; DO NOT STORE IN THE DOOR. Freeze refrigerated milk within 48 hours. FRESH MILK IS BEST but if you cannot bring the hospital your milk within the 48 hours bring us your frozen milk. Bring your pump kit to the hospital to pump fresh milk for your baby’s feeds.
  • Store each collection in a separate bottle. Do not fill the bottles above the 60 cc line to avoid cracking during freezing. When double pumping, you can pour two bottles into one bottle before freezing.
  • Never add newly expressed milk to refrigerated or frozen stored milk.
  • Whatever milk you bring to the hospital, our milk lab will store for you.
  • Store breast milk at home in a deep freezer (for up to a year) or in the back of the freezer compartment of your refrigerator (for 3 months).

Transport of Breastmilk

  • When you arrive at the NICU, please tell your baby’s nurse immediately that you have milk for your baby and if your milk is frozen or pumped more than 48 hours ago. Our milk lab at UAMS is able to store your breastmilk for you.
  • Save all of the milk you have pumped for your baby!
  • When bringing your fresh or frozen milk to the hospital, it is important that it be kept very cold in order to avoid possible warming or thawing. The best way to make sure your milk is kept cold or frozen during transport is to pack the bottles in an insulated cooler and take them directly to the hospital. When traveling long distances, blue ice packs are another choice to keep the milk frozen. If milk thaws, it cannot be refrozen. Milk that thaws during transport must be used within 24 hours or thrown away. The frozen breast milk should be placed in a pillowcase or wrapped in a towel to avoid direct contact of the frozen milk with the ice.
  • If you need any additional information or instruction, feel free to ask the nurse. We are here to help you maintain your milk supply during your baby’s hospitalization and to help you begin breastfeeding when the baby is ready. We know that this is a stressful time for you, and we want to ease your worries as much as possible.


  • Electric breast pumps are available for use 24 hours at the hospital. You must bring your pumping equipment, including caps and tubing.
  • Fresh breast milk is safe in the refrigerator for 48 hours, your freezer for 6 months, and a deep freezer for one year.
  • Breastmilk that has been thawed and kept in the refrigerator is good for 24 hours. Do not refreeze milk that has been thawed.
  • If you have any questions or need more support, please contact the lactation staff (your baby’s nurse can page us).


Please Read About Milk Donation!

  • The gift of donating your milk is amazing, but please be sure to wait until you have a great milk supply. You also want to have plenty of milk stored in your own fridge/freezer before considering donating your milk. You and your baby are top priority!

Adapted from the Guidelines of the Human Milk Bank Association of North America.