If you're pumping exclusively (not also breastfeeding), it's important to wait until after the first month so your milk supply is well-calibrated before reducing the number of times you pump.

After the first month, it's generally possible to reduce the number of pumping sessions without reducing the overall milk yield, but keep in mind that everyone is different and responds differently, so your mileage may vary (YMMV).

Reducing the number of pumping sessions should be done very slowly to avoid the risk of plugged ducts, mastitis, or reducing your supply.  

Start by gradually eliminating the least-helpful sessions by moving the ones before and after by 15 minutes every three days.  

For example, the first one that can usually go is the session around dinnertime when your milk supply is at its lowest of the day.  
  1. Let's say it's at 6pm and you normally pump at 3pm and 9pm.  
  2. So begin by pumping at 3:15pm and 8:45pm for three days.  
  3. Then 3:30pm and 8:30pm for three days.  
  4. Then 3:45pm and 8:15 for three days.  
  5. Then 4pm and 8pm for three days.  
  6. Then 4:15pm and 7:45pm for three days.  
  7. Then 4:30pm and 7:30pm.  
  8. At this point, you can now completely eliminate the 6pm session and the remaining sessions can be spaced more evenly during the day.  

To eliminate another session (which might be one of the middle-of-the-night sessions), just follow the same strategy.  The times are just suggestions — be flexible and trust your instinct about what your body needs.

Reviewed by Diana West, IBCLC

June 15, 2021