Do you hate your middle of the night pumping session? Waking up and setting yourself up to pump at 3AM isn’t most people’s idea of fun. It doesn’t have to be terrible, though. Here are some tips to make pumping at night easier.

woman pumping breast milk on a couch

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Here are three ideas to make middle of the night pumping sessions (sometimes referred to as MOTN pumps) less challenging.

1. Set yourself up to pump and go back to sleep

One option (if you’re pumping at night while baby sleeps) is to wake up, set yourself up to pump with a hands-free pumping bra, and see if you can go back to sleep.

Mom sleeping and pumping using a Boppy as a pillow
Image courtesy Shaina (@shainaleray). Used with permission.

A few tips for pumping and sleeping:

2. Pump in bed, waking up as little as possible

Here the goal is to stay awake for your pumping session, but to do so in a way that makes it easier for you to fall back asleep when you’re done pumping.

Here are some things you can do.

Go to bed with your pumping gear ready to go

Keep everything you need near your bed, ready to go, so that when you wake up to pump, your breast pump is right there, your pump parts are all put together and attached to the bottles you’re going to pump into, etc.

Keep the lights off or low

Not turning on bright lights will make it easier for you to go back to sleep when you’re done pumping.

To help you position your breast shield and see how much you’re pumping, you can try using a Lactalite or the light from your cell phone.

Listen to something to entertain yourself

One good option to entertain yourself while pumping at night is listening to a podcast or an audiobook, since looking at the light from your cell phone can shift your sleep schedule and make it harder to get REM sleep.

If you need to listen for your baby, use one earbud and leave the other out.

Keep your breast milk in your room

When you’re done pumping, disassemble your pump parts, put caps on the bottles, and – depending on what time it is – you might be able go back to sleep without heading to the kitchen to put your milk in the fridge.

Breast milk can sit out for about 4 hours at room temperature, so if it’s not really early in the night, you can keep the milk on your nightstand and feed it to your baby at his or her next feeding.

tiny fridge

If you do need to refrigerate your milk, you can get a tiny fridge like the one above and keep it in your room.

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3. Wake up completely, but do something you enjoy

In this scenario, you wake up completely, turn the lights on, etc. Maybe you’re also feeding the baby at this time, or you don’t like the idea of falling asleep while pumping or pumping in the dark.

If you’re going to wake yourself up completely, you should give yourself some kind of treat to look forward to when you pump so that it’s not such a slog.

Some things you can try:

  • Find a great show that you only watch during middle of the night pumping sessions (How to Get Away With Murder worked really well for this for me)
  • Play a time wasting game like Candy Crush that you only play in the middle of the night
  • Give yourself permission to do a little Amazon shopping (or window shop and just put some stuff on your wish list)
  • When you’re done pumping and ready to go back to bed, you’ll probably be hungry – reward yourself with a small treat (a lactation cookie, some chocolate, etc.) – you just burned a bunch of calories pumping.

What tips do you have to make middle of the night pumping sessions easier? Share your pumping at night tips in the comments!


  1. National Sleep Foundation. “Why Electronics May Stimulate You Before Bed”
woman pumping breast milk with text overlay how to make pumping at night easier

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