Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Pumping breastmilk for infant on Shabbat

1 November, 2015


Hi, I have a three month old son who has had difficulties with nursing and he gets frustrated with it and refuses to nurse. I currently nurse him once a day, and pump milk out two times a day for him. I supplement the breastmilk with formula for the other feedings. I would like for him to still get the benefit of breastmilk which is why I pump milk out for him. The milk I pump for him is used that day. If I were to stop pumping for a full day, it would be very uncomfortable and could lead to infection. Can I pump on shabbat and yom tov using an electric timer? I feel that if I stop pumping for Shabbat, and especially the three day yom tovs coming up, then the breastmilk will likely dry up and I won’t be able to produce milk anymore. Let me know what is permissible given the circumstances.


Based on what you write, you indeed must continue to pump over Shabbat and yom tov to prevent your getting an infection. If you have an electric pump, this can be set up with a timer. To avoid halachic problems associated with its use, you should have the pump on your breast before the timer goes on.

Using the breastmilk that you pumped is a greater halachic problem. However, in light of the young age of your child and the rabbinic nature of the prohibition (if you pump as above), it would be permissible to give the milk to your son for the meals of that day.

We suggest that you consult a lacation specialist to try to get your baby back to full breastfeeding.

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