Power pumping is often recommended to women that are trying to increase their milk supply. Some advantages of power pumping are that it doesn’t require using any new supplements or medications, there is little risk to trying it, and anyone can do it! Here is everything you need to know.
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What is power pumping? How can power pumping help me increase my milk supply?
Power pumping attempts to mimic cluster feeding, but with a breast pump. (Sometimes it’s also called “cluster pumping.”)
When a nursing baby cluster feeds, he stays at the breast, nursing on and off and trying to get more milk.
Often, this happens in the early evenings – both because that’s when babies start to tank up for a longer stretch of sleep, and because breastfeeding mothers tend to have lower milk supply at that time. It also happens when babies have a growth spurt and need more milk than they normally do.
Because breast milk production works as a supply and demand system – meaning that the more milk your body thinks your baby needs, the more it will make – the baby staying at the breast cluster feeding signals to the body that there is more demand. This often leads to a boost in milk production.
Power pumping breast milk is your pump staying at the breast and trying to get more milk, instead of your baby, to make your body recognize it needs to make more milk.
How do I power pump to increase supply?
In order to power pump, you’ll want to sit down and pump on and off at an interval for about an hour, like a cluster feeding baby would nurse.
You can choose the interval that works for you – you can do 20 minutes of pumping and then alternate 10 minutes of pumping or resting. Or you could do 12 minutes on and 8 off, 15 and 5, etc.
The amount of time doesn’t have to be exact – cluster feeding babies don’t nurse for exactly 15 minutes, take a 5 minute break, etc. All I would suggest is to get through your first letdown before you switch to resting, and if you’re pumping and in the middle of a letdown, I would keep pumping until it’s finished.
That’s pretty much all you have to do!
One power pumping session replaces one of your pumping sessions from your normal schedule, so you can just pump at your usual time, but for longer than you normally would and at intervals.
One thing to note is that if you’re power pumping and nothing is coming out, you should keep pumping! Your goal is to get another letdown, which will give you more milk.
How often should I power pump?
Once per day is great.
If you want to do twice and you can manage it, that’s fine, but make sure that you don’t pump so much that you get burned out and miserable. You are worth more to your baby than a few extra ounces of breast milk.
Is there a best time of day to do it?
Any time that you can dedicate an hour to pumping is fine.
Many women power pump in the early evening after putting their baby to bed, both because it’s easier to do it while baby is asleep and because babies often cluster feed around that time.
Can I power pump with a manual pump?
Yes. To use a manual pump when you cluster pump, you could pump each side for 12 minutes, and then switch back and forth on each side for 8 minutes. So instead of resting completely, each side takes a turn to rest.
If your hand gets tired, you can obviously take a few minutes to completely rest in between sides, too.
You can also try using a Haakaa on one side while manually pump on the other.
How can I make power pumping easier?
Do something that you enjoy while you power pump! Pick a time when you can sit and relax a little bit (just, you know … with your breast pump). Watch a show you love, read a book, spend time looking at cat gifs, whatever makes you happy.
Make sure that you have a pumping station set up with everything you need, since you’ll be there awhile and need to be comfortable.
A hands-free pumping bra is key – no one wants to spend an hour holding flanges up to their breasts.
If possible, don’t try to take care of your baby while power pumping. Ideally, save power pumping for when your baby is sleeping or you have help.
What are typical power pumping results? Does power pumping work?
You won’t see instant results from power pumping.
It takes a few days for your body’s supply to respond to the increased demand from your breast pump. Try to power pump for at least four days in a row (up to a week of “power pumping boot camp”) and then evaluate how it’s going.
I did an extremely non-scientific poll on Instagram, and about 62% of women who responded said that it helped them.
Good luck! If you’ve tried power pumping, please feel free to share your experience in the comments!
Stressed about establishing or increasing your milk supply while exclusively pumping? Always worried there is something else you should be trying? Check out my milk supply guide here (use code SUPPLY for 10% off)!
- Madden, Kate, IBCLC. “Empty Evening Boobs.” https://balancedbreastfeeding.com/empty-evening-boobs/
- Mlynek, Alex. “How to survive your newborn’s cluster feeding.” https://www.todaysparent.com/baby/breastfeeding/how-to-survive-your-newborns-cluster-feeding/