Whether you’re breastfeeding, exclusively pumping or a little bit of both, your milk supply is likely to be weighing heavy on your mind.
Fortunately for nursing or pumping mamas, there are many things you can do to get your milk production up, and power pumping is one of the best ways to increase milk supply quickly.
What is power pumping?
Power pumping, or cluster pumping, is a way to quickly reverse a sudden decrease in milk supply by using a double electric breast pump several times in the period of one hour.
Here’s why power pumping works:
You may have already experienced a cluster feeding session brought on by your newborn’s recent growth spurt.
And during this cluster feeding session, when your baby was nursing a lot in a short amount of time, your body got the signal that it needed to produce more milk.
Power pumping works the same way cluster feeding does to increase your supply.
Your milk supply is dependent on the amount that your baby needs; in essence, the more your baby breastfeeds or the more you pump, the more milk your body makes.
This is exactly why breastfeeding associated with the principle of supply and demand.
How to power pump
You’ll need a good double electric breast pump, a hands-free pumping bra and about an hour to carry out the whole process.
To power pump, you’ll follow a simple schedule:
Power pumping schedule–double electric pump
As you can see, the power pumping schedule with a double electric pump takes an hour to complete.
Make sure you wear a hands-free bra to make this as easy on yourself as possible. If you don’t have a hands-free bra you can always create one by cutting small holes out of an old sports bra.
What about a pumping schedule for a single electric pump?
You will save time and energy by using a hands-free bra and double electric pump, but if you don’t have those things on hand, you can power pump using a single electric pump.
Here’s a sample schedule to follow:
- Pump right breast 20 minutes
- Pump left breast 20 minutes
- Pump right breast 10 minutes
- Pump left breast 10 minutes
- Pump right breast 10 minutes
- Pump left breast 10 minutes
One power pumping session with a double electric pump takes 60 minutes, with a single pump, you’ll need to reserve about 80 minutes to complete the process.
Related: Breastfeeding tips for new moms
When should you pump?
If you’re a breastfeeding mom, it’s advised that you power pump immediately after a feeding session.
Bear in mind that your milk supply dwindles towards the nighttime and is the most abundant in the morning, so try to power pump after the first feed of the day.
If you’re a mom that exclusively pumps, it’s recommended that you power pump during a typical pumping session and have a partner feed the baby.
If you’re pumping while at work, try to power pump during your first pump session of your work day.
If you attempt to power pump too close to your baby’s next feeding session you might not have enough milk to satisfy them, so try to power pump as quickly as possible immediately following that morning feeding.
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Reasons you might need to try power pumping to increase milk supply
Before you dive into several days of power pumping sessions, it’s best to understand why you might need to power pump.
If your milk supply is just fine, power pumping will likely cause an oversupply of milk— which sounds like a good thing, but it can be frustrating for a baby who’s not used to that, plus you’ll be more prone to engorgement and infection.
Here are some reasons why you might need to try power pumping
You’re experiencing low milk production
Power pumping is often used by moms who are worried about low milk output. If you’re not sure whether or not your milk supply is declining, here are some ways you can tell.
Common signs your milk supply is decreasing
- You’re not counting enough wet diapers. Your baby should have 5-6 wet diapers in a 24 hour period.
- Your baby isn’t gaining enough weight.
- Your baby seems overly tired and lethargic. If baby’s urine isn’t clear and is bright yellow, they’re likely dehydrated and not getting enough milk.
- You pump exclusively and are noticing that you are collecting less than what you typically do.
You’re pumping at work while away from your baby
Your baby is wildly efficient at emptying your breasts during a feeding session, much more so than your pump.
If you suddenly transition from breastfeeding all day to pumping several times a day, you may notice a dip in your supply. Power pumping for one of your pumping sessions at work can help to maintain your supply while you’re away from baby.
Related: Can you reheat breast milk?
You’re trying to build up a freezer stash
Whether you’re trying to stash a few bags of breastmilk away for an up-coming trip or attempting to build a freezer stash for when you return to work, power pumping may be an effective way to add to your supply.
If you don’t have time to devote to power pumping to build up a freezer stash, consider using the haakaa pump while you breastfeed your baby as an easy way to store away more milk for later.
How many times a day should I power pump? And when will I see results?
Most women try power pumping once a day in the morning. If you have time you can try to do 2 sessions per day.
Just make sure you aren’t power pumping instead of breastfeeding your baby, as your baby is going to drain your breasts much better than your pump.
You’ll typically see results after 3-7 days, but remember every woman is different.
Your body might not respond to power pumping as well as others, or you may respond very well.
Once you notice your supply is back up to normal, it’s best to switch back to the pumping/breastfeeding routine you had in place before you started power pumping.
Power pumping is an effective tool to be used when you notice supply is low, but should not be maintained as a regular practice, as you will likely develop an oversupply of milk.
Power pumping tips, plus how to increase milk supply when pumping
Start each cluster pumping session with a breast massage
Massaging or kneading your breast stimulates your nerve endings and prepares your body for letdown. Massage by starting at the armpit and working your way toward the nipple.
Perform breast compressions while pumping
To fully drain your breasts, while breastfeeding your baby will use a combination of compression and suction techniques. Unfortunately, your pump only uses suction to empty your breasts during a pumping session.
To perform breast compressions, form your hands in a “C” around the top of your breast and feel for areas of firmness. Compress firm areas while you’re pumping.
Finish each pumping session with hand expression
You’ll be amazed at how much your breast pump doesn’t get when you finish each power pumping session with hand expression. You can begin by massaging your breasts to encourage more milk flow and then move on to hand expression.
When you end each pumping session with hand expression you can be assured you’ve fully emptied each breast– signaling to your body to make more milk!
Listen to music
Did you know stress has a way of sabotaging your pumping or breastfeeding session? Oxytocin, commonly referred to as the cuddle hormone, is responsible for triggering your breastmilk letdown.
Telling a new mom to relax, especially when she’s worried about her milk supply is no easy feat. Try putting your nerves at ease by listening to music or guided relaxation.
But more than just good advice, listening to music or guided relaxation is actually proven to increase your milk output, as well as the fatty content of your milk.
Want even more of an effect? Listen to a combination of music and guided relaxation while you look at pictures of your baby and you’ll be amazed at the amount you pump.
Check out different breast shield sizes
If you feel your pump isn’t working as well as it should at expressing milk, try different breast shield sizes. If the standard size your breast pump comes with is too small or large, you won’t get enough milk.
Try doing more skin to skin to encourage milk production
Not only is skin to skin a great way to bond with your baby, but it’s also proven to improve milk flow. Holding your baby skin to skin fuels oxytocin, the hormone responsible for the milk ejection reflex!
Final thoughts on power pumping
Power pumping is a great way to increase milk supply in a relatively short amount of time. Maximize your power pumping efforts by eating foods that help milk projection, getting adequate rest and staying hydrated.
Other articles on breast pumping:
Learning how to use the haakaa to pump a freezer full of milk without even trying!
The best back to work pumping tips