In theory, you can start collecting milk any time. In practice though, most health professionals recommend that you establish your breastfeeding routine first before using a breast pump.
If you are very uncomfortable with a very full feeling in your breasts in the first few weeks after your baby is born, you may want to relieve engorgement with an occasional pumping session. This should only be a short session though, simply serving to give you relief.
If you imagine pumping is like placing an order with the milkman, each time you do it you’re telling your body that it needs to deliver the same amount of milk again tomorrow. Placing too many orders in the early weeks will just make your body think you had triplets and you’ll end up with a huge supply. Easy does it!
Once you are ready to start pumping, then try to pump at the same time of day and after a feed. The time of day you choose really depends on the reason behind you pumping breast milk. For example:
Pump in the morning, as it is the most productive time because your milk-producing hormones have been doing their stuff at night.
Giving them milk that you have pumped in the evening is perfect, as it contains all those lovely sleep-inducing hormones. It’s worth noting on the container when it’s night-time milk. Want to boost your milk supply? Pump after each daytime feed to increase the order with the milkman!
Pump little and often, as you need relief.
Each time you pump you are tricking your body into thinking that your baby has really taken that 10am feed! Even if you pump and no milk comes out at all, you're placing the order for milk to be made later.