Are you wondering, “Does power pumping work?” Find out how to power pump, establish an effective power pumping schedule, and learn the best times to power pump so you can decide if this quick method to increase your milk supply is right for you!
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One question I obsessed about when I started breastfeeding was, “How do I know she’s getting enough?” Even though she was gaining weight perfectly, having plenty of wet and poopy diapers, and content after eating, my new mom anxiety had me questioning everything.
To calm my anxiety, I pumped her a bottle to see how many ounces she was eating. (Plus, I wanted to build our freezer stash so my husband could feed her as well.)
She was only a few days old, but my breasts felt like bags of rocks so I figured I would be overflowing the bottles with milk like a chocolate fountain.
I sat down at my breastfeeding station for a nice, comfortable pumping session while she was asleep. I had watched a few YouTube videos and read the instructions that came with the pump so I was basically a pro.
Everything was hooked up properly and my very first pumping session began!
The entire time I was pumping I was staring at the bottles stunned at the nonexistent amount of milk I was getting.
Must know tip: Pumping is NOT an accurate measurement of your milk supply!
Mom anxiety overload.
“How is she even asleep right now she’s probably starving?” “OMG I need to get her to the doctor ASAP for a weight check!” “How am I going to build our freezer stash?”
In my panic, I did what any millennial mom would do during a medical crisis. I grabbed my phone and Googled, “how to fix low milk supply.”
This is when I was introduced to the concept of power pumping.
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What is power pumping?
Power pumping is a way of emptying the breasts to signal to your body that it needs to make more milk.
Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. When the breasts are emptied frequently your body will get the message that maybe it should produce more milk.
In the evenings, my daughter would be fussy and keep nursing, nursing, nursing. As a new mom, I thought that meant I had a low milk supply. In reality, this is called cluster feeding and it’s how babies naturally increase your milk supply.
Power pumping is a way to replicate cluster feeding. That’s why it’s also called cluster pumping.
Although your baby will be more effective at getting milk than a breast pump, this is still an effective method.
Power pumping isn’t a replacement for your normal pumping routine. Instead, replace one pumping session with a power pumping session.
One power pumping session = one regular pumping session.
Reasons to power pump
Common reasons to consider power pumping would be:
I added a power pumping session to my daily routine for about 3 days when I thought I had a low milk supply.
After only 48 hours I went from pumping 1-2 ounce bottles to pumping 5+ ounce bottles!
Suddenly, my daughter began choking every time I nursed her.
I had no idea I’d given myself an oversupply.
Adding a daily power pumping session when I didn’t need to created an unnecessary problem of my body producing too much milk.
So, if you want to power pump because you think you have a low milk supply, you should first check with an IBCLC to make sure you have a milk supply issue.
How to power pump with an electric breast pump
Try to find an hour where you can pump without interruptions. The mornings are best because that’s when your milk supply is likely the highest. But you could also pump in the evenings which is when babies normally cluster feed before they go to sleep.
Here’s a typical power pumping schedule:
The timing doesn’t have to be exact because a cluster feeding baby doesn’t nurse for these exact intervals. But make sure most of the hour is spent pumping.
Once you’ve finished power pumping, pump (or nurse) like you normally would throughout the rest of the day.
Success tip: If nothing is coming out when you’re pumping, keep going! You want to signal to your body to make more milk which is what the pump is trying to do.
How to power pump with a manual pump
Power pumping with a manual pump will be a bit more challenging because it’s more work, but it can still be done.
A typical manual pumping schedule may look like this:
Pumping manually for a solid hour may make your hand feel like a concrete slab. Take breaks as you need to but try to spend a majority of the hour pumping.
How often to power pump
Power pumping once a day is good to start with because you don’t want to produce too much milk and create an oversupply.
Power pumping more than twice a day can make you frustrated especially if you’re not seeing quick results. You may also get burned out and tired of pumping before it starts to work.
Is breastfeeding exhausting? Find out 7 nighttime tips for exhausted breastfeeding moms to get more sleep.
Results of power pumping
Power pump for at least a week to see results and determine if it’s working. Results are different for every mom.
You may make an extra ounce or 2 which could be the difference between a 1oz bottle and a 3oz bottle.
Once you’ve got your supply up you can continue to pump as normal. To maintain your increased supply, make sure you’re emptying your breasts so your body knows that the milk it’s producing is being used.
Power pumping tips for success
Pumping for an hour can get pretty boring. Here’s a few tips to help you be successful.
- Do something entertaining like watching Netflix or listening to an audiobook
- Try to relax- stress will decrease the amount of milk you produce
- Grab everything you need before you start- use your breastfeeding station
- Use a hands-free bra so you’re not holding your flanges the whole time
- Pump while someone is there to watch baby or during nap time
- Put pump parts in the fridge instead of washing them if you plan on using them again within 24 hours- coldness slows down the growth of bacteria
- Drink plenty of water (here’s my favorite water bottle)
- Look at a photo of your baby to encourage milk letdown
- Have your nipple cream ready
Breast pump tips for success
It’s important to know that if you have your suction too strong in order to get more milk, you can cause damage to the breast tissue and reduce your milk supply.
Here’s a few other breast pump tips to get the best results.
Famous last words…
Power pumping for an hour once a day is a great way to increase your milk supply.
If you’re power pumping to increase your milk supply because you think it’s low, check with an IBCLC first so you don’t give yourself an oversupply which can lead to mastitis.
Happy pumping mama!
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Welcome! I’m LaCresha…